September 25, 2014
Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers hosted an exhibition in Rwanda in August to allow Japanese and Rwandans to learn from each other's histories of war, trauma and recovery.
On Aug. 6, 2014, the 69th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, a ceremony was held in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, to mark the beginning of the exhibition “Rwanda & Japan Peace Exhibition — Let's learn from our history.”
The exhibition lasted through Aug. 10 and taught about the history of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and their subsequent recoveries.
The first such exhibition was held in Nicaragua in 2004, when there happened to be four Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers from Hiroshima Prefecture dispatched to the country. They gave an "atomic bomb exhibition."
During the subsequent 10 years, JOCV began voluntarily hosting the exhibitions around the world, and today they have been hosted some 120 times in over 60 countries.
In 2004, a civil war had just ended in Nicaragua, and people felt hopeless. So Norimi Osaka, an elementary school teacher and JOCV, and three other JOCV from Hiroshima Prefecture were inspired to plan the first atomic bomb exhibition because they wanted Nicaraguans see how Hiroshima had recovered from the bombings and gain hope for the future.
Similarly, many Rwandans may lack hope because of their experience in the Rwandan genocide in 1994, in which an estimated 500,000 to 1 million people died in an ethnic slaughter.
In the Kigali exhibition venue, posters and a DVD provided by the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum were shown, along with an actual-size model of Little Boy, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. A workshop on how to fold paper cranes was also held. JOCV served as guides to attendees. Rwanda and Hiroshima were connected by Skype and survivors of the bombing and of the genocide held a public discussion of their experiences. Japanese and Rwandan high school students also held a dialogue. Combined, the exhibition and a peace and reconciliation music festival held Aug. 15 attracted some 800 people.