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Immaculée Ilibagiza, Rwandan genocide survivor (#409)

Immaculée Ilibagiza talks about forgiving the people that participated in the genocide, including the man who killed her parents; finding comfort in her faith; and how she passes that faith along to her children.

She discusses her idyllic childhood, when she and her brothers enjoyed playing with schoolmates and neighbors and participated in hours of family discussion. She describes Rwanda as a paradise with beautiful mountains and perfect weather year round. It was not until she was in the fourth grade that she learned that her family was Tutsi, the country’s minority ethnic group, and that many of her friends and neighbors were Hutu, the majority group in power.

Ilibagiza was home from college when the genocide began. By the second day, the borders were blocked and people were being murdered all over the country. Eventually, her father sent her to hide at a nearby Hutu pastor’s house while the rest of the family stayed behind to help their friends and neighbors. She hid, along with seven other women, in a 3-by-4-foot bathroom for 91 days.

While she was in hiding, Ilibagiza experienced intense anger and depression. She recounts terrifying moments when she could hear killers searching for her and calling her name, and she talks about the brutal murders of her parents, brothers, and grandparents.

However, Ilibagiza’s message is not so much about the terror she lived through but the spiritual awakening she experienced during that time. By the time she emerged from hiding, she had given up her anger and found an astonishing capacity for forgiveness and love. She says she knew without a doubt that “God is real.”

Air Dates

Friday, October 31, 2008 at 4:00/3:00 pm CT on KET2

Sunday, November 2, 2008 at 1:30/12:30 pm CT on KET