Rwanda is a beautiful country of lush, hillside forests, majestic mountains, and Lake Kivu, one of the African Great Lakes. It's picturesque terrain has earned it the name "Pays des Mille Collines," the "Country of a Thousand Hills."
But the small landlocked East African country, about the size of Maryland, has a troubled recent past. More than 1 million people there died in a genocidal war in 1994 that the outside world was unwilling or unable to stop.
[Editor's note: The original version of this post misstated the date of the genocide in Rwanda.]
To publicize a new short film on Rwanda, both its horrific history and its bright future, the nonprofit group Explore is asking individuals to "like" the film on Facebook. The documentary is called "Raindrops Over Rwanda" and a trailer can be viewed here.
For every "like," which acts as a promise to watch the film when it premieres online July 18, Explore will donate $1 to benefit Rwanda’s Kigali Genocide Memorial Center, up to $50,000.
To "like" the Rwanda movie premiere, go to http://www.facebook.com/exploreRwanda.
The Christian Science Monitor expects to be one of many websites hosting the July 18th world premiere of "Raindrop Over Rwanda."
The Facebook community page is being run by a Rwandan genocide survivor, Honoré Gatera, who also serves as a tour guide at the genocide memorial center in Kigali, Rwanda's capital and largest city.
The center, which opened in 2004, 10 years after the genocide that left 1,050,000 people dead in Rwanda, was made possible by the British charity Aegis Trust. It includes a burial ground for about 250,000 of the genocide victims, as well as exhibitions and the National Genocide Documentation Center. Among its highlights, according the center's website, are two 'Windows of Hope' – stained-glass windows designed by the son of a Jewish holocaust survivor that depict the Rwandan genocide "and steps leading into the future."
The steps lead up to windows, to the light, text on the website explains. "This indicates that the genocide was not inevitable. Warnings could have been heeded and action taken. But the world chose not to go up that path to the light....
"The second window sends a shaft of light down into a section immediately after the exhibit describing the genocide. This section describes the heroes of the genocide: people who rescued and resisted. But again, they were not enough. Despite their great acts, and the gratitude of those that were saved, the heroes were too few...."
Explore.org, a division of the Annenberg Foundation, creates documentaries about people around the world who devote their lives to extraordinary causes and selfless acts. Its library contains more than 250 original films and 30,000 photographs on topics from animal rights and the environment to education and health care.