Survivor speaks at SLU

November 02, 2006

SAINT LEO, FLA. – Despite losing nearly all of her family in the Rwandan genocide, Immaculee Ilibagiza told about 800 people at Saint Leo University Wednesday, Nov. 1 that it's important to forgive.

"Try to forgive as much as you can," said Ilibagiza,
a survivor of the Rwandan holocaust.
"If I can do it, you can do it.

Survivor speaks at SLU I think our challenge in the world is to care for each other."
Ilibagiza was born in Rwanda and studied electronic and mechanical engineering at the National University of Rwanda. Her life was transformed in 1994 during the Rwanda genocide when she and seven other women huddled in a bathroom of a local pastor’s house for 91 days. During this ordeal, Ilibagiza lost most of her family, but she survived to share the story and her transition into forgiveness and a deeper relationship with God.

"Sometimes you go through something terrible and find strength from within," she said. "If we all care, we can do miracles."

Three months after asking God to bring a man into her life, she met her husband, Bryan Black, who came to Rwanda to set up the U.N. court that would prosecute those responsible for planning the genocide. Four years after the Rwandan tragedy, Ilibagiza immigrated to the United States and began working for the United Nations in New York City where she is currently a member of the United Nations Development Program. She lives in Long Island, N.Y. with her husband and their two children. Her memoir, “Left to Tell,' is Ilibagiza’s first book and was published this year.

Ilibagiza has devoted her life to sharing the importance of the virtues of understanding and forgiveness. She accompanied Dr. Wayne Dyer during his “Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling' Public Television Special and world tour.

"Saint Leo University is grateful and proud to host Immaculee Ilibagiza and bring her compelling and inspirational story to you," said Dr. Arthur F. Kirk Jr., president of Saint Leo.

Besides Saint Leo, Ilibagiza spoke earlier Wednesday at the Academy at the Lakes in Land O' Lakes. She has established a foundation to care for Rwandan children.