Rwandan genocide survivor on forgiveness

Immaculee Ilibagiza survived the 1994 Rwandan genocide – which left a million people, including her parents, dead – by hiding in a tiny bathroom with seven other women for 91 days. She started hiding as a healthy young woman and emerged weighing 65 pounds, but her faith and willingness to forgive remained strong.

As told in her book Left to Tell, Ilibagiza accepted shelter in the home of a Rwandan pastor after tensions between Hutus and Tutsis turned into mass murder and unspeakable brutality. After hiding there for three months, she learned that most of her family had been killed. She managed to escape death, but more importantly she also found a way to escape the bitterness, cynicism and anger that leads to resignation, hatred and a desire for revenge. In IMMACULEE: HOLD ONTO HOPE, she explains how she has found the strength to not only overcome the tragedy, but to forgive the people who perpetrated it.

Some people would call her willingness to forgive a sign of weakness or tolerance. However, as you can hear in her interview below, Immaculee possesses an inner fortitude, courage and strength that is far more powerful and accomplishes much more good than any thought or action based on anger or revenge.


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