Rwanda genocide survivor Immaculée Ilibagiza to speak here tomorrow
Immaculée Ilibagiza, a Rwandan woman who survived the 1994 genocide in her country by hiding in a pastor's cramped bathroom for three months, will speak on "Faith, Hope and Forgiveness" at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11, in the auditorium of O'Shaughnessy Educational Center on the St. Paul campus of the University of St. Thomas.
Her talk, free and open to the public, is sponsored by St. Thomas' University Lectures Committee. A reception in the atrium outside the auditorium will follow the talk.
Ilibagiza, who told her story in a best-selling book, Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust (Hay House, 2006), had spoken last May at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis and at a St. Thomas conference, where she also received an honorary doctorate.
Publisher's Weekly described Ilibagiza's book in March 2006:
"In 1994, Rwandan native Ilibagiza was 22 years old and home from college to spend Easter with her devout Catholic family, when the death of Rwanda's Hutu president sparked a three-month slaughter of nearly one million ethnic Tutsis in the country. She survived by hiding in a Hutu pastor's tiny bathroom with seven other starving women for 91 cramped, terrifying days.
"This searing firsthand account of Ilibagiza's experience cuts two ways: her description of the evil that was perpetrated, including the brutal murders of her family members, is soul-numbingly devastating, yet the story of her unquenchable faith and connection to God throughout the ordeal uplifts and inspires. Her account of the miracles that protected her is simple and vivid. Her Catholic faith shines through, but the book will speak on a deep level to any person of faith.
"Ilibagiza's remarkable path to forgiving the perpetrators and releasing her anger is a beacon to others who have suffered injustice. She brings the battlefield between good and evil out of the genocide around her and into her own heart, mind and soul. This book is a precious addition to the literature that tries to make sense of humankind's seemingly bottomless depravity and counterbalancing hope in an all-powerful, loving God."
Left to Tell has sold more than 250,000 copies worldwide and has been made into a documentary. Ilibagiza’s Left to Tell Charitable Fund has raised more than $150,000 for the orphans of Rwanda. She has received numerous humanitarian awards, including the 2007 Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Reconciliation and Peace.