The unique trauma rape victims endured, the horrors, impacts them to this day. While a massacre affects all survivors, consequences for Rwandan women is compounded through lasting impact of sexual violence.
Politicians and government leaders often excuse their inaction on Syria with words like "complicated." And we know that many government leaders once felt the same way about Rwanda.
As we remember the Rwandan genocide of 20 years ago, my hope is that we will look next door to the Democratic Republic of Congo and the everyday emergency that is bringing a people to its knees.
Billions of the poorest people throughout the developing world know in a terrible and personal way the same truth the Rwanda genocide taught me: Violence has the power to destroy everything -- and is unstopped by our other responses to poverty.
The world is marking the 20th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide with events, statements and speeches. But I have a better idea. Let's act.
There is much still to learn and understand about how and why the genocide happened -- to prevent future genocides. But one thing was clear today: Rwandans are proud of thinking big -- and they should be.
Rwanda had to create something virtually unique in Africa: government that was corruption-free, a plan to turn away foreign aid as soon as possible, and a reliance on business standards to encourage competition and efficiency.
"What good is that if our babies and mothers are dying? They must be the priority."
The international community cannot claim to care about atrocity crimes and then shrink from the commitment of resources and will required to actually prevent them. Global leaders should do more to prevent the preventable, and to counter the cruelty taking place before our eyes.
They are 5,250 miles apart, one in Asia, the other in Africa. But in each, huge piles of human skulls bear mute witness to the genocidal horrors of the last quarter of the 20th century when the world should already have learned better from the enormity of the Nazi Holocaust. Once the Chao Ponhea Yat High School, Pol Pot turned it into Security Prison 21 (S-21), where of the nearly 20,000 who passed through its satanic doors only a dozen survived. It was just one of scores of such hellholes where prisoners were beaten, tortured with electric shocks, burned with searing hot metal and water-boarded among other torments.
After the genocide was over, I did not return to Rwanda for 18 years, but I have always kept an eye on what was happening from afar. Once you have been part of a seismic event in a country's history, you always feel connected.
When asked about his childhood, Jean Bosco Ngwabije, 33, remembers two things -- fighting and running.
This April Rwandans will remember the 20th anniversary of a genocide the world did nothing to stop.
We smelled the bodies before we saw them. We approached on a dirt track muddy from two weeks of the rainy season. Trees and high shrubs obscured all but the tip of a roof, but a cross told us St. Francis Catholic Church at Karubamba was just around the corner.
While it appears that no amount of remembrance can possibly stop the next genocide from occurring, we must keep trying and we must remain ever vigilant to the signs of impending action such as those that have scarred our past.
The Rwanda genocide may seem like a black hole in history, forever beyond human understanding from which no light can ever escape. But historical events can be meaningfully explained and Rwanda is no exception.