Africa’s Oscar Schindler

In January the Franciscan family in Rwanda marked the 15th anniversary of the death of Vjeko Curic, OFM. He was murdered, aged 41, on 31st January 1998 in the capital Kigali. From Croatia, Fr Vjeko answered the call to go to Africa. Assigned to Rwanda in 1983, he worked in the parish of Kivumu, about forty kilometres from Kigali, together with other friars.

Everything that exists today in Kivumu exists thanks to him for he built a church, a dispensary, a convent for sisters, etc. Because of his hard work and resourcefulness there has developed a large parish of 35,000 people.

During the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, which killed about a million people, he stayed in Kivumu, managing to save from certain death thousands of men,women and children. For this reason he was well known throughout the country. The film, Shooting Dogs, was inspired by his story and the director, David Belton, described Vjeko as “Africa’s Oscar Schindler”.

The friars currently live and work in Kivumu carrying on his mission. A dream of Fr Vjeko’s, the construction of a school, became a fact in 1999. The school, bearing his name, teaches various trades such as construction and sewing; it helps the young people of Kivumu to develop their talents and acquire the skills necessary to support themselves and their families

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