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The Friar's Involvement with the People
Written by fra Ivica Perić

fra George GashugiIn the beginning Friars worked and lived among the people of Kivumu and Rwanda in a very simple way. For example they would go to dig, carry water and firewood with them. The people slowly began appreciating this Franciscan way of doing things. The Friars especially Vjeko tried many ways of helping people to help themselves by creating ways of getting jobs and food by organizing them into groups and associations and groups like; bread baking, storing beans, sorghum, peas, and opening shops for groups etc.

1st October 1990 was the beginning of the war in Rwanda.

6th of April 1994 the plane of the President was shot and the war escalates. All Friars, except Vjeko, left Rwanda. In the course of leaving Rwanda Friar George Gashugi was killed. Friar Vjeko was involved in the evacuation of the friars.

During the war Vjeko was staying in Kivumu and didn’t leave for the love of the people and from time to time he would go to Bujumbura - Burundi to bring some food for his people. Also involved in this was Aimable Gatete who was now stationed in Bujumbura after being rescued from Rwanda by Padri Vjeko. He would buy the food and Vjeko would collect it.

After the war, Padri Vjeko became the head of Caritas Organization and at the same time economo of Kabgayi diocese. He was also involved in the reconstruction of houses for the resettling of the people who had been displaced by war.

It was up to this moment that he met his fatal death through his assailants who shot him eight times next to his heart on 31st January 1998.

Before the massacre and his death Vjeko had a plan of building a Secondary school for the youths in Kivumu. The land had already been given by the diocese. However, the massacre started and he was unable to fulfill the plan. After the genocide, many Rwandans who had been living outside Rwanda as Refugees came back and Vjeko gave them that land allocated for the building of the school for their settlement. He no longer had land to build a school any more.

In memory of Padri Vjeko Curic, the Franciscans and the people he helped have built a school of which he desired when he was alive. We have another community of our friars in another part of Rwanda called Butare-Mbazi. They also work in the same way as we do.

Father Vjeko Center

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