Faith, forgiveness and peace: Rwandan genocide survivor shines her light on Tahoe |

Faith, forgiveness and peace: Rwandan genocide survivor shines her light on Tahoe

Kira Yannetta
Special to the Sun
Submitted to aedgett@sierrasun.comImmaculee Ilibagiza, a survivor of the genocide that took most of her family members, is a powerful example of one womanand#8217;s spirit. Her first book, and#8220;Left to Tell; Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaustand#8221; quickly became a New York Times Best Seller. She will speak Sept. 17 at the Truckee Community Recreation Center.

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; We all know how difficult it can be to forgive. We often cling to the stories about how we were mistreated. They were wrong, they behaved badly and they should apologize. The problem is we can do nothing about them, how they acted and whether or not they feel remorse and make amends. The only thing we can do is free ourselves by letting go of our anger, hatred and thoughts of revenge. The hurtful act may remain a part of our life, but forgiveness can bring a peace that will help us continue moving forward. We can forgive someone; even find compassion for them, without excusing the harmful act.

Immaculee Ilibagiza, author of and#8220;Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust,and#8221; is a shining example of someone who learned to forgive the unforgivable. In 1994, Ilibagiza spent 91 days hiding in a 4 x 3 foot tile bathroom with seven other women while savage killers hunted them. Her friends and neighbors turned against her, burned her home to the ground and mercilessly butchered her family. While she hid she lived on table scraps and her faith in God. The only weapons she had against the fear, rage, hatred and hopelessness that tormented her every waking moment were prayer, meditation and visualization.

and#8220;I had to find a way to get the hatred from my heart, but that was beyond me. I turned to God and asked Him to help, and He did. He touched my heart and taught me how to forgive those I hated,and#8221; she said. She prayed for the murderers, that they would see the evil of their ways and be forgiven. In doing so, she was transformed. Victory over hatred can be won with love.

Since its 2006 publication and#8220;Left to Tell,and#8221; has been translated into 15 languages. Iglibagiza has become known as a world-leading speaker on peace, faith and forgiveness. In June of 2007, For Goodness Sake hosted her appearance at the North Tahoe Conference Center.

Nancy Lopez, who saw her speak in 2007, said, and#8220;It was amazing. What was so wonderful is she had a way of telling her story with so much love, forgiveness, and passion. I expected the night to be somber but what I took home was this love that she had, this love for humanity.and#8221;

For Goodness Sake is bringing Immaculee Ilibagiza back to Tahoe. Her talk will focus on her experience during the Rwandan Holocaust and forgiveness. She will also give an update on Rwanda, the work she does with her Left to Tell Charitable Fund, which directly benefits the children orphaned by the genocide, and her personal development. She will speak Saturday, Sept. 17, 7 p.m., at the Truckee Community Recreational Center, 8924 Donner Pass Road, Truckee. Tickets cost $30 for adults and discounts for students and children. Call 530-550-8981.

About Peace Day

What is Peace Day? In 2001 all of the United Nations member states voted to adopt an annual day of ceasefire and non-violence to coincide with the International Day of Peace, Sept. 21. Anyone, anywhere may celebrate Peace Day. Itand#8217;s a day to put down weapons, a day to commemorate peace and a time to make peace with yourself and others. For more information about the Truckee Tahoe Peace Project, visit

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