On the thick fingers of his large left hand, Protais Segatabazi began counting the ways his life has been shattered by the civil war in his native Rwanda.
"They killed my mother, my grandmother, my two sisters, my two stepsisters," he said this week.Segatabazi ran out of fingers before he got to the two brothers-in-law and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins who also were victims of the tribal savagery in his homeland.
"For me, really there is nothing left in Rwanda," said Segatabazi, a Tutsi. "It's almost like my whole family is gone."
Segatabazi, 30, plans to seek out the little family he has left. A brother and sister live in Kenya, and another brother lives in Uganda. His father died in 1991 when a doctor from the rival Hutu tribe refused to treat his urinary infection.
Segatabazi, one of about 50 Rwandans living in southwestern Michigan and northern Indiana, plans to visit his sister and brothers later this month.
"Those of us who are left have to make our families again," Segatabazi said. "That's why I am going back, to be close to them."
Boniface Gahigi, another Tutsi, left for Rwanda Wednesday to find the two brothers, age 9 and 11, he believes are safe in an orphanage. His two sisters are missing.
"It will be a tough job, but I have to do it anyway," Gahigi, 26, said by telephone from Kalamazoo, Mich., where he has been living with a cousin. He has sold most of his belongings and dropped out of Southwestern Michigan College in Dowagiac.
Gahigi learned in May that his parents and older brother were among the 500,000 or more slaughtered in the civil war.
"When I first heard, it was terrible for me," Gahigi said. "But now, because everybody has lost his family, it kind of feels familiar. It's not just you, it's everybody."
Gahigi believes the country is safe after Tutsis routed the Hutus last month. But he is not sure what kind of life he and his family can expect if they stay in Rwanda.
If the family home in central Rwanda is intact and secure, Ga-hi-gi says they will try to settle there. If not, they will be forced to join hundreds of thousands who have fled to neighboring countries.
Gahigi said his father was killed by a Hutu soldier who attended the same primary school as Gahigi.
Because the soldier knew Gahigi's father, a convenience store owner in his 70s, he was allowed to choose his method of death: bullets or machete.
"He gave them money, so they shot him," Gahigi said. "He was lucky. If you don't have money, they cut you to pieces."
Segatabazi's two sisters and their families were shot in their living rooms by Hutu gunmen. They were killed in April, one month before Segatabazi earned a bachelor's degree in public administration at Indiana University at South Bend.
A nephew from each family - a 7-year-old shot four times and a 12-year-old shot twice - survived.
The stories of gruesome genocide often seem unimaginable, even to Rwandans familiar with the long history of tension between Tutsis and the Hutu majority, who came to power in 1959 after another bloody civil war.
"They're dead, but it's not like it's real," Segatabazi said. "I want to go and see it for myself, to feel like it was before, to feel home. Then I can go on with my life."