The brother sun of all Rwandan

With his three Franciscan brothers, Vjeko settles in the diocese of Kabgayi, in the centre of Rwanda. He will relentlessly help the parishioners, before, during and after the genocide.
Speaking in the beginning only basic Kinyarwanda – that he will master perfectly later on 

Brother Vjeko is more and more invested in local life, and firmly intends to participate in the development of the region. He will for instance help build several schools, as well as a health centre.

With his Franciscan brothers, Vjeko looks after the poor and the sick, and welcomes numerous orphans. He also supports some pupils by paying their tuition fees. He encourages the population to regroup in cooperative associations, each with different objectives, for example agriculture or bakery. For instance, Vjeko buys all the agricultural equipment. The crops are then stocked and sold at an affordable price, to help the population of Kivumu.

Vjeko is from then on known and appreciated by all, especially because he doesn’t distinguish between the ethnical groups. He helps and loves everybody, as much Hutu as Tutsi. Furthermore, he demonstrates no political penchant, preferring to believe in God rather than an ideology. The political drifts will unfortunately profoundly brand Rwanda.

The night of the 6th of April 1994, the sky above Rwanda darkened. Nevertheless, “Brother Fire”1 doesn’t switch off. During the three months of the genocide, Vjeko will struggle to help all those who are in need, whether Hutu or Tutsi. Unlike other foreigners, Vjeko decides to stay next to the Rwandans. Known for his good deeds in Kivumo for ten years, all know that they’ll find in Vjeko a protector. Indeed, when the massacres start in Kivumu, the people flow from all the communes. Vjeko welcomes them all. Receiving some financial aid from Europe, they hire domestics so that each refugee can eat their fill. Every day, he brings supplies. His parish then welcomes around a hundred people.


1 The expression “brother sun” was used by the founder of the Franciscans, Saint Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), in his Canticle of the Creatures, considered as the first gem of budding Italian literature.