In 2004, noting the 10 year anniversary of the Rwanda genocide, PBS Frontline released, Ghosts of Rwanda. To this day I continue to feel it is one of the most exceptional documentaries I have ever seen, despite the fact that it is deeply disturbing to watch. This film was my first introduction to Carl Wilkens. Within the film’s horror, scenes featuring Carl are where the filmmakers remind us of our shared humanity and what a mixed deal that is. It is Carl that gives the viewer hope.
I posted a little clip from Ghosts of Rwanda recently on my Facebook page.
Already deeply moved from reviewing the film scene, I wasn’t at all prepared for what happened next. One of my Facebook friends lives in Rwanda and I knew he knows Carl, but I didn’t know the context. He saw the video clip about Carl on my page, and wrote to me how happy he was that Carl was arriving in Rwanda that week so he would be seeing him in person. We wrote back and forth a bit, and then he asked me, like in a oh-by-the-way-did-I-ever-mention tone, did I tell you I was in the orphanage he saved?
It took my breath away and tears filled my eyes because, of course, he hadn’t ever told me.
And then he said: He is a hero and savior to me.
I was filled with emotion and my thoughts started to spin. I felt the full impact of the moment’s realization. I was on Facebook communicating with someone that wouldn’t have been alive… that I would have never heard of… never even known he had existed on this planet… except for the fact that with U.S. Passport in hand, when all other Americans left, Carl Wilkens said, “I’m not leaving.”
Mutti Scott Johnson is alive and sends sweet little messages to me on Facebook because of Carl.
I can’t tell you how much of an honor it feels like for me to know Carl and his wife Teresa. It is an incredible privilege to feature them at our November 3rd event. Please join us that day. Come meet the man that saved Mutti and so many others.
Founder & Executive Director, Living Ubuntu
[Ubuntu] n. Every human being truly becomes a human by means of relationships with other human beings.