Press Release: United Nations, March 13th, 2004

Prepared By: The Rwanda Project
Contact: Jenifer Howard 203-273-4246

For Immediate Release

In Memory of the Rwandan Genocide of 1994
Exhibition - March 17 - April 15, 2004; Reception & Commemoration - April 7, 2004

(NEW YORK, N.Y., March 17, 2004) -- Through the Eyes of Children: The Rwanda Project, an exhibition of photography taken by orphans of the Rwandan genocide, is being featured at a special exhibition at The United Nations in memory of the 10th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. The exhibition will run from Wednesday, March 17, through Thursday, April 15, 2004, with a private reception and commemoration on The International Day of Reflection, Wednesday, April 7, 2004, from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. The United Nations General Assembly has declared April 7, 2004, as an International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda. The reception is by invitation only. Those interested in attending the reception should contact The Rwanda Project via e-mail at by April 4, 2004. The exhibition is open to the public daily from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. in the Visitor's Lobby of The United Nations, located at East 46th Street and First Avenue, New York, N.Y.

Through the Eyes of Children is unique in that the pictures are the culmination of four years of photographic workshops for the children living at the Imbabazi Orphanage in Gisenyi, Rwanda. Many of the children, both Hutu and Tutsi, were injured and orphaned by the 1994 genocide. The Imbabazi Orphanage in Gisenyi is on the border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo and was once the main crossing for both the exodus and re-entry of Rwandans during and after the genocide. The slaughter of civilians by civilians occurred at a rate of 3 to 4 times that of the Holocaust, and caused the flight of two million internally displaced persons and two million refugees. The genocide took an enormous toll on the country, particularly the children who suffered tremendous loss and trauma. More than 60 percent of children interviewed by UNICEF said that they did not care whether they ever grew up; nearly 96 percent of children were reported to have witnessed violence during the genocide; and nearly 80 percent lost at least one family member. Many abroad witnessed the horror in Rwanda, after it was too late. Images continue to play a key part in our memory of the injustices that occurred. Not only has photography served as a major strategy for documenting the atrocity of the genocide, but it has also been used as a way to reunite children with their families. However, the power of the camera has rarely been in the hands of those affected the most.

The Rwanda Project "Through the Eyes of Children" was conceived by photographer David Jiranek and began as a photographic workshop in 2000 that was inspired by and centered on the importance of the children’s perspective and experience. Given disposable cameras, the children, ranging in ages from eight to eighteen, began photographing themselves and their community. Initially, the pictures were developed locally, displayed on the orphanage walls and put into photo albums by the children. A year later, the children were invited by the U.S. Embassy to exhibit and sell their work in the capital, Kigali, with all proceeds going towards their education. A photograph by 8-year-old Jacqueline entitled "Gadi" won "First Prize - Portraiture" in the 2001 Camera Arts Magazine Photo Contest (in the adult category) and Honorable Mention in an international competition featuring professional and nonprofessional photographers from around the world. Today, the children’s work is traveling around the U.S. and abroad in this exhibition that provides a unique look at Rwanda and at the lives of the children affected by the genocide, ten years later. The goal of this project is share with the world the perspective of the children, to provide an opportunity to reflect on the tragedy of the genocide by observing life today through the eyes of Rwanda’s children. Additionally, the project aims to demonstrate to the children of the Imbabazi Orphanage that they have something to share with the world that is meaningful. Through the sale of their photographs, the children receive that message, as well as the means to continue their photography and their education.

To learn more about The Rwanda Project and to see examples of the children's work that will be on display at The United Nations, visit The exhibition is sponsored, curated and produced by Through the Eyes of Children and PixelPress.