March 5, 2009

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AMHERST, Mass. – Immaculée Ilibagiza, author and world-renowned survivor of the Rwandan genocide, will give a talk titled “Faith, Hope and Forgiveness: The Story of a Survivor of the Rwanda Genocide” on Wednesday, March 25, at 8 p.m. in Amherst College’s Johnson Chapel.


The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Schwemm Fund.

Ilibagiza’s life was transformed dramatically in 1994, when she and seven other Tutsi women hid together for 91 days from roving gangs of violent Hutu extremists in the small bathroom of a pastor’s house near her home in Rwanda. Most of her family was murdered during that time, but she survived to tell of her experiences and of the rediscovery of her faith and her refusal to succumb to anger and resentment in the face of such atrocities. In the years since that horrific ordeal, she immigrated to the United States, took a job at the United Nations and wrote a book about her life, titled Left to Tell; Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust, which has been translated into 15 languages worldwide and made into the documentary The Diary of Immaculée. She is now regarded as one of the world’s leading speakers on peace, faith and forgiveness, and she shares her universal message with world dignitaries, schoolchildren, multinational corporations and churches and at many conferences. She also raises money for her Left to Tell Charitable Fund, which directly benefits the children orphaned by the genocide.

Ilibagiza has received honorary doctoral degrees from The University of Notre Dame, Saint John’s University, Seton Hall, The University of St. Thomas and Siena College and been recognized and honored with numerous humanitarian awards, including the Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Reconciliation and Peace, the American Legacy’s Women of Strength and Courage Award and America’s Freedom Award. In addition, she has appeared in various media including 60 Minutes, CNN, EWTN, the Aljazeera Network, The New York Times, USA Today, Newsday and many other domestic and international outlets. Her book, Left to Tell, received a Christopher Award “affirming the highest values of human spirit,” was named Best Outreach Testimony/Biography Resource of 2007 by Outreach magazine and has been adopted into the curriculum of dozens of high schools and universities across the United States.