Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Left To Tell

Several months ago I posted a commentary here regarding the film "Hotel Rwanda" which I happened to see while working in Brussels, Belgium. Since Rwanda was formerly the "Belgian Congo" it was very interesting to watch a film that opens with a scene blaming the former colonial masters for the Hutu vs. Tutsi tribal conflicts that led to the genocide there in 1994.

I was reminded of this experience last week while I attend the American Legislative Exchange Council's, www.alec.org annual conference in San Francisco. One of the conference's sessions featured a speaker who survived the Rwandan genocide named -- Immaculee Ilibagiza -- who spent 91 days hiding in a bathroom with six other Tutsi women. Ms. Iligazia's speech was very compelling and sobering since I complain if I have to sit in traffic -- this woman sat on a bathroom floor for 3 months while nearly starving as she hid from machete-toting rape gangs in Rwanda. Time for me to quit my bitching!!!

During Ms. Ilibagiza's speech the audience also learned that she taught herself to speak English using a French-English dictionary while she was hiding in the bathroom from the Hutu death squads. This is especially amazing since the US public school system is spending millions and millions of dollars to instruct non-English speaking students and to teach English as a foreign language. Perhaps these students and their parents should get motivated by reading Ms. Ilibagiza's inspiring book - "Left To Tell" - which I read before the conference was completed.

Beyond her book and her work at the United Nations Ms. Ilibagiza is the founder of the "Left To Tell Charitable Fund" based in Carlsbad, California:


The fund is focused on helping the orphaned children of Africa build new lives.

The Rwandan genocide is a tragedy of course but another tragedy is that an estimated 800,000 people were killed in about 3 months while the world sat by and watched. This happened in a world of 24 news channels and news alerts being sent to mobile devices yet somehow this genocide did not justify a world response.

Hopefully this book will encourage an end to tribalism so people can live their lives to their full potential.


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