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Rwandan Genocide Survivor Immaculee Ilibagiza to Speak at New Horizons Series Oct. 17

Public Relations
Posted: Tuesday Aug 13, 2013

Aug. 13, 2013

Immaculée Ilibagiza, survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, will speak at the Saint Vincent College New Horizons Speakers Series at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17 in the Performing Arts Center of the Robert S. Carey Student Center on the campus of Saint Vincent College. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Immaculée is a world leading, inspirational speaker on peace, faith and forgiveness, where she shares her heart-gripping story of physical and emotional turmoil during the bloody massacre that tore her nation apart, but strengthened her faith and understanding of life.

Born in Rwanda as a Roman Catholic Tutsi, Immaculée was a 22-year-old National University student studying electrical and mechanical engineering when extremists took over her beloved country in 1994. Nearly a million people were killed, including most of Immaculée’s family. However, against all odds, she survived by hiding in a tiny bathroom of a local pastor’s house with seven other brave women for nearly three months.

In the 91 days spent there, Immaculée learned not only English with just a Bible and a dictionary, but also the most important lesson of her life: forgiveness. Shockingly as it may be, she let go of her anger and wholeheartedly forgave her tormentors and her family’s murderers.

In 1998, she immigrated to the United States where she was granted asylum and utilized her new English language in a job with the United Nations. Co-workers and friends who heard about her amazing story insisted that she write her life-altering experience in book form. The first book she wrote, Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust, released in March of 2006 by Hay House, quickly became a New York Times Best Seller. Her story was later documented in “The Diary of Immaculée.”

Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, internationally renowned author and speaker who wrote a “Foreword” in her book, said, “Immaculée not only writes and speaks about unconditional love and forgiveness, but she radiates it wherever she goes." Also, he commented, “To me, she was not only left to tell this mind-blowing story, but more than that, she’s a living example of what we can all accomplish when we go within and choose to truly live in perfect harmony with our originating Spirit.”

Left to Tell has been translated into fifteen languages and sold more than 250,000 copies worldwide. A portion of these proceeds are donated directly to the Left to Tell Charitable Fund that was established by Immaculée to help African children, particularly those orphaned in Rwanda. It has raised more than $150,000.

“Rwanda can be a paradise again,” Immaculée said. “But it will take the love of the entire world to heal my homeland. And that’s as it should be, for what happened in Rwanda happened to us all — humanity was wounded by the genocide. The love of a single heart can make a world of difference. I believe that we can heal Rwanda — and our world — by healing one heart at a time.”

Other books she wrote, with the help of writer Steve Erwin, include Led by Faith: Rising from the Ashes of the Rwandan Genocide, The Boy Who Met Jesus: Segatashya of Kibeho, Our Lady of Kibeho: Mary Speaks to the World from the Heart of Africa, Sowing the Seeds of Forgiveness: Sharing Messages of Love and Hope After the Rwandan Genocide, and The Rosary: The Prayer That Saved My Life.

Immaculée has appeared in numerous domestic and international media outlets including 60 Minutes, CNN, EWTN, The Aljazeera Network, The New York Times, USA Today, Newsday and many more. Also, she was recently featured in Michael Collopy's "Architects of Peace" project, which has honored legendary people like Mother Teresa, Jimmy Carter, Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama.

She hosted a documentary titled "Ready to Forgive, An African Story of Grace," a project sponsored by The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America that focused on the Acholi people of Northern Uganda and their desire to forgive their tormentors, which has been broadcast on NBC and the Hallmark Channel. Also, Immaculée recently signed a contract with MPower Pictures to produce a major motion picture about her story.

The distinction of her miraculous story has been recognized and honored with numerous humanitarian awards, including honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Notre Dame, Saint John’s University and Walsh University; the Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Reconciliation and Peace 2007; a finalist as one of Beliefnet.com’s “Most Inspiring People of the Year 2006;” a recipient of the American Legacy's Women of Strength & Courage Award; and a Christopher Award, “affirming the highest values of human spirit,” for Left to Tell. Also, Left to Tell has been chosen as Outreach Magazine’s selection for “Best Outreach Testimony/ Biography Resource of 2007,” and for the 2007-2008 “One Book Program” at Villanova University making it a mandatory read for 6,000 students.

Immaculée officially became a proud American in April. “To be able to be an American, I feel like finally the war is over,” she said. Today she lives in Manhattan, New York.

The New Horizons Speakers Series is made possible through the support of the Saint Vincent College Office of Student Affairs in cooperation with the Student Government Association and the First Year Seminar Program. The Series is designed to present nationally-recognized speakers who have distinguished themselves in a variety of fields. The mission of the Series is to encourage the development of a balanced approach to a liberal arts education that seamlessly combines academic and student life.

Further information is available from the Office of Campus Life, 724 805-2094, campus.life@stvincent.edu.

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Photo: Immaculée Ilibagiza 

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