Healing from Genocide in Rwanda,Rugerero Suvivors Village, an Artist Book

Healing from Genocide in Rwanda demonstrates the power of art in the service of healing, and

is a testimony to responsive community process in a highly sensitive environment. The work

immerses readers in the stories of two Rwandans who as small children experienced the 1994

Genocide. It tells of the horrific tragedy each survived, the courage necessary for surviving, and

the humanity they embody. Their stories are framed by two chapters chronicling the

transformation, in the Rugerero Survivors’ Village, of a concrete burial slab into a powerful

Genocide Memorial with its bone chamber, designed by artist Lily Yeh and built by the villagers.

An essential theme of the book is the importance of the dead for the living, of honoring the dead,

of remembrance.

The book is not limited to the literature of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, but belongs to the world

as part of the collective human experience. Healing from Genocide in Rwanda is not a

conventional book—it evokes its world through images (photographs, drawings, paintings,

pattern, and color) as well as words; the text itself is visually choreographed.

The material in the book stems from Lily Yeh’s multifaceted Rwandan Healing Project under the

auspices of Barefoot Artists. That project included, among other things, drawing and storytelling

workshops, from which the book draws. Susan Viguers conceived and designed the book,

incorporating drawings and paintings by Lily Yeh.


Lily Yeh is an internationally celebrated artist who, as founder and executive director of the

Village of Arts and Humanities in North Philadelphia from 1968 to 2004, helped create a national

model in creative placemaking and participatory community building through the arts. In 2002,

Yeh pursued her work internationally, founding Barefoot Artists, Inc, to bring transformative

artmaking to impoverished communities in multiple countries (including Kenya, Ivory Coast,

Ghana, Rwanda, China, Taiwan, Ecuador, Syria, Republic of Georgia, Haiti, Germany, Palestine,

and the United States. Lily is the author of Awakening Creativity (New Village Press, 2011).

Susan Viguers has taught literature, directed the University of the Arts in Philadelphia Writing

Program, and published scholarly articles, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Her discovery of

printmaking and book structure took her from the Liberal Arts Division to the university’s College of

Art and Design. For nine years she directed the university’s MFA Book Arts /Printmaking program.

Her artist books are part of special collections in more than 50 public institutions.

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