Learn about the 1994 Rwandan Genocide during this free, virtual program.
April 13, 2021 [St. Petersburg, FL] — The Florida Holocaust Museum invites you to join us on Facebook Live on Thursday, April 29th at 1:00 p.m. for our free, virtual program, The Pardoll Family Lecture Series Presents: Rwanda’s Pathway Back to Trust.
This discussion will feature the voices and perspectives of Carl Wilkens, humanitarian aid worker and now leader of the World Outside My Shoes organization, and Damas Gisimba of Gisimba Memorial Center. Carl Wilkens was the only American who stayed in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. Among the people he helped at the time were the residents of an orphanage led by Damas Gisimba.
This conversation is part of The FHM’s Genocide and Human Rights Awareness Movement (GHRAM).
About the Speakers:
Carl WilkensFor over a decade, Carl Wilkens has been sharing stories around the globe to inspire and equip people to “enter the world of The Other.” He was the only American who chose to stay in Kigali, Rwanda throughout the 1994 genocide. Venturing out each day into streets crackling with mortars and gunfire, he worked his way through roadblocks of angry, bloodstained soldiers and civilians armed with machetes and assault rifles in order to bring food, water and medicine to groups of orphans trapped around the city. Working with Rwandan colleagues, they helped save the lives of hundreds. His harrowing yet hopeful journey weaves together stories of tremendous risk and fierce compassion in the midst of senseless slaughter. In 2011, Carl completed a book detailing these days titled I’m Not Leaving. A 40 minute documentary by the same title has since been released. Carl’s storytelling does not stop with Rwanda’s tragic history, but moves forward to the powerful and inspiring recovery process. Among the many lessons he shares from his experience is the transformative belief that we don’t have to be defined by what we lost or our worst choices. We can be defined by what we do with what remains – what we do next after terrible choices. Each year he returns to Rwanda with students and educators to see for themselves how people are working together to rebuild their country and rebuild trust. Rwanda’s story is a powerful platform to launch meaningful conversations under the broad umbrella of learning to live together. We explore stories of the genocide and how respect leads to empathy, resulting in inclusion (REI).
Damas GisimbaDamas Gisimba has been the legal representative of the Gisimba Memorial Center since 1986, working with orphans, abandoned children, and families in distress. He was born in 1959 in Goma, Congo Kinshasa. He attended Ecole Industrielle de Goma in mechanical engineering. Gisimba Orphanage was founded by Peter and Dancilla Gisimba in the 1980’s. They took orphans into their home from the local community, until there were too many to house and they transferred to a larger location. It was renamed the Gisimba Memorial Centre in 1990 by their elder son, Gisimba Damas, for the memory of his parents’ work. After the death of his parents, he worked with orphans at Gisimba Memorial Center. Gisimba Damas married Mukandanga Beatrice and together, they have four biological kids – three boys and one girl. In his charity work for the orphanage, he has received about 3,000 children in 35 years. The story of the orphanage’s 33-year lifespan, at some point, cheerlessly intertwines with the country’s dark history – the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. When Gisimba was young, his parents taught him that people are people, no matter their appearance or physical shape. Gisimba managed to save 320 children and 80 adult Tutsis. Due to this, he was honored with several prizes including:
● Switzerland Paul Greninger Award● Jardin des Les justes de Monde in Italy● H.E Paul Kagame the President of Rwanda Heroes Award● Abarinzi Bigihango Protectors of Friendship Pact Award● Gacaca Award (Traditional Rwanda Courts)
At 59 years old, Gisimba is now considered as a living hero who determined himself to sacrifice his life in exchange for the children and people who were hidden at the orphanage.
For more information about the program, click here.
Please note: Since we are a public page, you do not need to have a Facebook account or log into Facebook to access this program. To access the virtual program, go to https://www.facebook.com/TheFHM and then you can join us without having to register or log into an account. Thank you for joining us virtually.
Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or to coordinate interviews. If anyone wishes to interview Mr. Gisimba, we will have to coordinate with this son, Patrick, who acts as his interpreter. Please be mindful of the 6-hour time difference in Rwanda.
Stay engaged with The FHM online through the Museum’s virtual tour, virtual resources, online curriculum, collections, Holocaust Survivor testimonies, and on its social media pages Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
About The Florida Holocaust MuseumOne of the largest Holocaust museums in the country, and one of three nationally accredited Holocaust museums, The Florida Holocaust Museum honors the memory of millions of men, women and children who suffered or died in the Holocaust. The FHM is dedicated to teaching members of all races and cultures the inherent worth and dignity of human life in order to prevent future genocides. For additional information, please visit www.TheFHM.org