Sister Milgitha

Sister Milgitha braved the genocide in Kaduha, and saved hundreds of people, mainly children.

The story of the genocide that happened in Rwanda in 1994 revealed the exceptional courage of some men and women, who put their lives in danger to save others. Sister Milgitha is part of those people whose name deserves to be engraved in gold letters in the history of humanity.

Form the diocese of Munster in Germany, Sister Milgitha arrived in Rwanda in September 1973 and she settled in Kaduha, in the prefecture of Gikongoro, in the southeast of the country. She built a health centre where she welcomed and treated everyone, without distinction. The people from Kaduha warmly welcomed her into their families, shared with her weddings and mourning. They taught her Kinyarwanda, their mother tongue, as well as their proverbs, such as Imana yirirwa ahandi igataha i Rwanda (“God spends his day somewhere, but at night, he comes back to Rwanda”).

Sister Milgitha soon forged important friendship and neighbouring links that link Rwandan communities. She saw the Hutu and Tutsi dance, pray and sing together, visit each other’s homes and help each other. For instance, Hutu women will spontaneously ask their Tutsi neighbour for fire, and vice versa: that fire is neither Tutsi nor Hutu.

In 1994, when the country sank into the horror of the genocide, the subprefecture1 of Kaduha wasn’t spared. Thousands of Tutsi took refuge in the church looking for protection. Unfortunately, they were slaughtered by a crowd of killers, essentially composed of extremist Hutu civilians, former neighbours of the victims. Faced with this massacre and inhuman cruelty, Sister Milgitha didn’t let despair get her down. Accompanied by her sister in the same order, Quirina, and some of her Hutu employees, she looked, among all the bodies of the victims inside and outside the church, for those who are still breathing. She hid and treated them in her centre. Thanks to her courageous and heroic actions, she managed to save hundreds of people, essentially orphans.


1 The administrative structure of Rwanda before 1994 was composed of prefectures governed by prefect and cut into subprefectures with at their heads deputy prefect. The subprefectures were split into communes headed by the burgomasters and each commune was divided into areas and the areas into cellules.