The Aegis Trust is deeply saddened that Jacqueline Uwantege, our Psychological Support Officer in Rwanda, has passed away after a long battle with cancer.
Jacqueline provided immense support to the Kigali Genocide Memorial when it first opened in 2004 and officially began working at the memorial in 2008. Affectionately known as Mama Jacky, she provided counselling support to individuals and groups visiting the memorial and treated cases of psychological trauma. She also gave support to Aegis Trust staff by organising relaxation and stress management sessions. Her tireless efforts helped many survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi in some of their darkest hours. The Aegis Trust’s team in Rwanda have no doubt that Jacky saved the lives of many people struggling with the consequences of the Genocide.
Dr James Smith, founder and Chief Executive of the Aegis Trust, said:
“It is a rare, special, person who will listen and share in the pain of others. Jacky opened her big heart to some the most traumatised people on this earth, who just needed someone to be there for them; and Jacky was so often there at the right time, expressing her genuine concern. We in the Aegis family were blessed to have Jacky among us. We mourn today that she left us far too early, and share in the grief of her dear family. Jacky helped to bring dignity for survivors at the Kigali Genocide Memorial. We will not forget that she showed us how a place of bitter and tragic memories can also be a place of love. Today we are filled with sadness as we say goodbye to a dear friend. Yet we also know that Jacky gave so much love and care that part of her lives on in the hearts of those she touched.”
Kigali Genocide Memorial Manager, Honore Gatera, said:
“No words can describe the loss we feel now that Mama Jacky is gone. For more than a decade, she gave selflessly to others and always made sure they were ok. From cases of genocide related trauma to simple advice, Jacqui was always there for all of us. Her kindness, compassion, love and care for every person who visited the memorial and for everyone she treated has left a legacy that will never be forgotten. We not only lost a colleague, but also a best friend and a mother to many of us. Rest in peace Mama Jacky.”
The thoughts of our whole team are with Jacqueline’s family at this difficult time.
Messages of remembrance from current and former staff and friends
“Kind, warm, always there for others, with a smile. Your memory and love will forever stay in all the people you have touched. Until we meet again, Rest in eternal peace Maman Jacky Uwantege.” – Claver Irakoze
“Mama Jacky Uwantege, I am trying so hard to accept that you have left us. From the first day we met, you had such radiant smile on your face that made it always easy to smile back. I am struggling with this heartbreaking news because deep in my heart I don’t want to let you go. You were my counselor who pushed me as much as needed even when I was making everything difficult for you, you never abandoned me whenever my dark days were upon me, you protected me selflessly from a lot of things that I could’ve not been able to handle and you always made sure that I was okay. Without you, I would be in denial until today. You changed my life in an indescribable way and you had an impact on me and my little family. You were my friend, my confidant, and I will miss you greatly.” – Yvonne Umugwaneza
“She was iconic in healing. Loved by everyone, for her beautiful soul. You are here into our memories.” – Serge Rwigamba
“Que la terre te soit légère Maman Jacky.” – Jessica Umwamahoro
“Go well Mama Jacky. My thoughts are with her family. She was extremely kind to us and stayed with my young one for an hour who had been overwhelmed. May she Rest In Peace.” – Caroline Kere
“I am very sorry to hear of Jacky’s passing. Such a difficult time for all her family including her Kigali Genocide Memorial family! May she rest in peace.” – Karen Bronk Froming
“Niyigendere ntakundi, urupfu ntiturugiraho amahitamo, ariko ntacyo yabayeho ubuzima bikwiye umuntu nyamuntu, urugero rwiza adusigiye cyane twe ababanye kandi bagakorana na we ruzatubera urwibutso ruhoraho. Imana ihagarare mu cyuho asize mu muryango. Tuzongera kumubona igihe urupfu ruzaba rutakiriho!” – Ruhumuriza Ndahimana Jean Nepo
“I can’t believe you will never be part of us again Maman Jacky! I can’t stop listening to your sweet cheerful voice. I can’t stop watching your beautiful smile in front of me! You were an angel Tantine! I am sure the heavenly angels have welcomed you with joyful songs! Thank you for loving us, thank you for taking care of us in an exceptional way. Thank you for that big heart. Thank you for being that kind of a woman who was a role model to all of us! Maman Jacky forever in our hearts dearest. Until we meet again! RIP.” – Lydie Mutesi
“Je décide de te dédier ce message dans une langue que tu aimais beaucoup. J’arrive pas à croire que tu nous quittes pour toujours, qu’on entendra plus ta douce voix, qu’on ne croisera plus ton sourire. Je n’oublierai qu’à chaque début de la commémoration, tu nous demandais de rester forts, mais surtout de ne jamais oublier que tu étais là pour nous. Tu nous laisses un grand vide au travail que personne ne pourra combler. Que les anges t’accueillent et célèbrent ta rentrée dans la vie céleste.” – Aline Umugwaneza