The Story

Rwanda: Hope Rises is a documentary exploring how Rwanda is healing and rebuilding in the years following the 1994 genocide. In Rwanda: Hope Rises you will meet some of the inspiring men & women who have made it their task to rebuild a nation.

The story focuses on a young couple - Elsie and Nicholas Hitimana - on either side of the conflict that would eventually flare into genocide. When the genocide rips across Rwanda in April 1994, Nicholas, a Hutu, must discover how to protect his new wife Elsie, a Tutsi, from the Interhamwe militias. Together, they embark on a dangerous journey toward the Congo and safety. When they finally make good their escape, they realize their journey is just beginning.

Through the eyes of Nicholas and Elsie, we see the struggle to forgive between Hutu and Tutsi, how a nation is wrestling to heal and how a husband and wife can face their past together.


In April 1994, years of tension between divided Hutus and Tutsis erupted into violence. A pre-meditated plan for the extermination of Tutsis and Hutu moderates was undertaken over the course of 100 days. As many as 1,000,000 men, women and children were brutally murdered. Many were killed using blunt objects and machetes. Many endured nights of anguish as they watched entire stadiums of people being systematically chopped to death, awaiting their turn, subjugated to rape, or forced to kill their family members before being killed themselves.

The human anguish and torturous, malicious evil of those who carried out the killings is beyond understanding. An equal travesty was the failure of western nations to intervene. In all, humanity's obligation to 'love thy neighbour' failed in every possible way.


Reconciliation & rebuilding after such a slaughter is not a simple or short process. Rwanda is going through a remarkable, though sometimes painful recovery. Many people still await trial. Those who have served their terms face reintegrating into communities where the relatives of those they murdered still live. Extremist militias who escaped after the genocide still carry out horrific acts inside the Democratic Republic of Congo. And on top of all this, Rwanda remains one of the poorest nations in Africa.

The road to a better future is not easy, but it is possible. Rwanda stands to be a beacon of hope in East Africa by rebuilding their nation from the ground up, tackling the problems of justice, opportunity and above all inspiring leaders to take up the challenge. Beyond rebuilding the tatters of infrastructure, education, health care and economy, a change in the hearts of people has been taking place. People are picking up the pieces, reconciling with each other, and beginning a new life together.


Nicholas and Elsie narrowly escaped death at the hands of the Interhamwe militias. Though they vowed never to return, Nicholas & his family came back to Rwanda after he earned his PhD in Scotland. He is now working to develop a sustainable community-based program in essential oils, a lucrative international market supplying perfume & herbal manufacturers.

Antoine Rutayisere adopted twelve children after the genocide. He doesn't consider himself a hero. He did what needed to be done. And he continues to lead his peers by aiding in peace & reconciliation.

Arthur Karuletwa is a young Rwandan with a passion for coffee. He's opened Kigali's first coffee shop, and is importing premium Rwandan beans to North America.


Rwanda: Hope Rises is a one-hour documentary shot over three years beginning in 2005.

It begins amidst growing Hutu-Tutsi tension in Rwanda, as a couple meet and fall in love.

When genocide explodes in 1994, Nicholas, a Hutu, must discover how to protect his wife Elsie - a Tutsi - from the murderous Hutu militias. Elsie assumes a false identity, and the two begin a dangerous journey to flee the country. When they finally cross into neighbouring Congo, Nicholas and Elsie discover their journey has only just begun.

After such evil, how can Hutu and Tutsi forgive one another? How can a nation heal? How can husband and wife face their past, forgive, and rebuild their family?

© cinesketch media group