Author recounts saving hundreds of lives during Rwanda Genocide

The Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies-Muskegon, housed at Muskegon Community College will host Carl Wilkens, an author and missionary renowned for his extraordinary journey during the 1994 genocide in Kigali, Rwanda.

Wilkens made history as the only American who chose to remain in Kigali, as members of the Hutu ethnic majority in the east-central African nation of Rwanda murdered as many as 800,000 people, mostly of the Tutsi minority.

Each day, amidst the chaos of streets filled with mortars and gunfire, Wilkens navigated roadblocks manned by soldiers and civilians armed with machetes and assault rifles. His mission was clear – to bring essential supplies, including food, water, and medicine, to groups of orphans trapped in the war-torn city. Working alongside Rwandan colleagues, they defied tremendous risks, ultimately saving hundreds of lives.

Wilkens’s narrative extends beyond Rwanda’s past, progressing towards the resilient journey of recovery. Through his experiences, he imparts numerous lessons, emphasizing the transformative perspective that we need not let our losses or gravest decisions define us. Instead, he advocates for defining ourselves by our actions with what remains—the steps we take following regrettable choices. Annually, he accompanies students and educators to Rwanda, allowing them to witness firsthand the collaborative efforts of the people in rebuilding their nation, confronting the most formidable challenge of all—reestablishing trust.

Carl Wilkens documented his journey in his book, I’m Not Leaving, which has since been complemented by a 40-minute documentary of the same title.

The event is free and open to the public.

The Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies-Muskegon, part of Muskegon Community College, is dedicated to promoting awareness, understanding, and education about the Holocaust and other genocides. Through various programs and events, the Center aims to foster a commitment to tolerance, justice, and the prevention of future atrocities.

Date: February 15, 2024

Time: 6:30pm to 8:00pm

Location: Sturrus Technology Center, 388 West Clay, Muskegon, MI 49440, 231-777-0421