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MBABARIRA. I'm Sorry, Forgive Me - Phase I Funding
$5,550 raised
79% of $7k goal
47 contributors
2 Years running
Please help send Thabo to Rwanda to begin filming "Mbabarira." We've been granted unprecedented access to document confessions of prisoners who committed the 1994 genocide as well as the potential reconciliation with and forgiveness of victims' families.


I am a filmmaker from South Africa, living in Los Angeles, and I am trying to make the first shooting phase of a very important documentary happen in Rwanda. I need your help!

Back in in October 2011, I travelled to Rwanda to document work being done by my dad’s NGO, The Word for All Nations. I knew that my dad had found renewed purpose at the age of 62, but I did not comprehend it until I saw him interacting with perpetrators and victims of the 1994 genocide. Past transgressions as a former racist in South Africa clearly helped my dad relate to killers and rapists in a way that I could not. 

My first trip to Rwanda also introduced me to Pastor Deo, a man who has made it his life's work to forgive the people who killed 45 members of his family. I spent most of my time filming a dance troupe that was living in one of the Villages of Reconciliation that Pastor Deo’s organization had built. Through this project, I got to know men who committed mass murders as well as the women and families who were victimized by them. I could not quite wrap my head around the idea that these former enemies were peacefully sharing a community; the dramatic ancient volcanic terrain stained by a history of genocide.


Prior to 1994, Rwandans already plagued by mass killings, took sanctuary in the churches. But during the Genocide, it was different. The Interahamwe (Hutu militia) factored the churches into their plans. They conspired with pastors to lock up their own congregations and then tip off the militia when their flocks were captive inside. Pastor X (witholding his name until we have clearance from the Rwanda Prison Authorities) not only locked the doors to his full church and called the Interhawme, but he wielded the machete himself. When it was all over, more than 500 members of his congregation had been murdered.

This year Pastor Deo’s organization, Prison Fellowship Rwanda, and Rev. Gerrit’s organization, The Word for All Nations, received permission from the Rwandan government to launch Project Ubumwe. This initiative encourages genocide perpetrators, like Pastor X, to finally confess their horrific crimes to victims’ families – seeking reconciliation and helping to heal the still open wounds of genocide.

Project Ubumwe is a long, rigorous journey that begins when perpetrators commit to the reconciliation process. Many have been in prison for more than twenty years and have received countless hours of counseling and ministry. After a full and verified confession, prisoners may be accepted into Project Ubumwe. At that time, chaplains and prison authorities arrange face-to-face meetings for the prisoners to confess and ask forgiveness from the victims’ families. This can involve showing families where their loved ones’ bodies were buried and disclosing the details of their deaths – many of which had previously been unknown.


Phase 1 of Mbabarira will document the Word For All Nations and Prison Fellowship Rwanda’s initial rollout of Project Ubumwe for two weeks in late October 2015. This will include prisoner confessions, victim testimonies, forensic investigation of burial sites and other supporting evidence, as well as the meetings of prisoners with the families of their victims.

By focusing on genocide perpetrators’ repentance, reconciliation & reintegration into the community, Project Ubumwe directly challenges the western concept of justice. At a time when Americans are increasingly dissatisfied with mass incarceration aimed at punitive justice, the Rwandan model presents a striking alternative based on restorative justice and significantly lower rates of recidivism.

The film will explore how the teachings of Christianity are a driving force behind the post-genocide reconciliation movement in Rwanda. As a fly on the wall, our lens will bear witness to the testimonies of the perpetrators and the reactions of the victims’ families. Are the confessions sincere? Can forgiveness ever exist when the crimes were so heinous?

As the story unfolds, Rev. Gerrit, Pastor Deo, and their chaplains will guide us, and the confessed prisoners, through the challenging mission of Project Ubumwe.


The doors of opportunity have opened rather suddenly, with the Rwandan prison Authority authorizing access for us to film and take part in the confession and reconciliation process - where no other documentarians or journalists have ever been allowed.

We need help financing the basics of Phase 1. The filmmakers have already purchased a plane ticket for Thabo as well as provided him with most of the equipment. The trip to Rwanda is a "go!" However, to make the project a success our immediate financial need is for:

1) $2500 for Accomodation, Transportation, Meals for crew and their hosts.

2) $1500 for a Sound Mixer and Equipment for two weeks.

3) $1500 for additional Camera Operator for two weeks.

4) $1300 for additional Camera, Lighting, and Editorial equipment.

5) $800 for director's expenses.

We would love to exceed our goal so that we can dive right into Phase 2. Thank you for generously helping out!

Thabo, Ken, and Melanie



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$100 USD
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Donations $100 and above will receive a "Thank You" credit in our feature film.
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$10,000 USD
Executive Producer
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Any donors making $10,000+ contributions on this phase of the documentary film will receive Executive Producer credits. Only two credits available!
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