Real hero of Rwanda to visit ‘Nova

Lauren Piro

Next Tuesday, Villanova will welcome Paul Rusesabagina, celebrated hero of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Immortalized in the highly acclaimed and award-winning film “Hotel Rwanda,” Rusesabagina’s story illustrates the brutality and fear of the 100- day slaughter in the African country, while highlighting the bravery and determination of one man. The Rwandan genocide began on April 6, 1994. Members of the radical Hutu tribe began their massacre of the Tutsi people and moderate Hutus, causing carnage that would ultimately result in the death of over 800,000 Africans by the beginning of July of that same year. The genocide is not only marked by its bloodshed but also by the fact that it was seemingly ignored by the rest of the world. Powers around the globe offered little or no aid. With his world being madly torn apart around him, Rusesabagina chose to act courageously. Through efforts that originally began with intentions to protect his family, Rusesabagina was able to shelter refugees in a hotel that he was managing at the time. By the end of the genocide, 1,200 African people had been saved because of his compassionate actions. Since that year, Rusesabagina has continued his efforts to support victims of violence in Rwanda, founding the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation, which cares for abused women and orphans of the genocide. He has also received numerous honors including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National Civil Rights Museum Freedom Award and the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award.Next week, Rusesabagina will deliver a lecture on his experience throughout the genocide, particularly from the point of view of his recently published autobiography “An Ordinary Man.” The event will not only bring to light Rusesabagina’s personal experience and emotions in ways the movie could not but also will create awareness about the genocide in hopes of stopping possible future bloodshed elsewhere.”There are stories to be told that must not be forgotten,” Rusesabagina said. “We can never give up on the lessons learned from Rwanda.” Organizers of the lecture, which the Campus Activities Team is sponsoring, hope Rusesabagina’s story will be heard and respected. Organizers also hope the lecture will remind students of Villanova’s own commitment to service and consideration for others. “Much of the Villanova community is dedicated to service for others, and sometimes we lose sight of the impact we have,” said Molly Griffin, Ideas and Issues Director for CAT. “Mr. Rusesabagina is just one man, but he has helped so many people. I think it is important for students to make a difference in the world.” All of the Villanova community is welcome to attend the lecture, which will begin at 8 p.m. in the Jake Nevin Field House and will be immediately followed by a book signing of “An Ordinary Man.” Admission is free, but tickets are required for admittance. Tickets are available in 108 Dougherty. Additionally, the ongoing Cultural Film Series will be showing “Hotel Rwanda” in the Connelly Center Cinema. The film will air on Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 3:30 and 7 p.m. and Monday at 7 p.m. Admission is $3.50 for students and $5 for all others.