Marie Goretti’s life was spared during the Rwanda genocide, but she lost two of her children and her husband through unspeakable violence that rocked the East African nation in 1994. In expressing how she felt after knowing she was safe, Marie said, “We were happy to feel saved even though we had nothing really — we were really tired and we were looking forward to dying. We were just tired of being in this life.”

What gave Marie a reason to live in the years after the genocide is taking care of orphans. As one of the “Mamas” at the Agahozo Shalom Youth Village (ASYV), a holistic village with 30 family homes designed around caring for and educating orphans, Marie cares for a group of 16-24 children. She is now on her 8th year at ASYV.

Marie Goretti , Rwanda genocide, genocide, black excellence
CNN

“The gift I could give to my family that died was raising other children, any child that would come to me,” Marie says. She is one of 28 “Mamas” that care for a total of 520 orphans and disadvantaged teenagers who live and study at the village. Most of the women working there are widows and have lost at least one child to the genocide and other violence that followed.

Watch a video on Marie’s incredible story and learn more about her work here. 

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