Interviews with Survivors | April GAPM film series starts April 1 (tomorrow)

Hi everyone,

Living Ubuntu volunteer, Alicia Buly, has been meeting with survivors of genocide and interviewing them for our blog. These pieces are absolutely essential reading. Many of these survivors will be speakers at the April film series events. Three of the interviews are below.

When we heard that the international soldiers were leaving the country, it was a disappointment. We were discouraged then. It was like a betrayal. They were betraying us. – Edith Umugiraneza
Finding Strength in Testimony – An Interview with Edith Umugiraneza (April 1 – Rwanda)

My grandmother asked: “Are there any Armenians left?” What she and her companion had witnessed during the deportation made them think they were the only Armenians left in the world. – Levon Marashlian
Activism Through Education – An Interview with Levon Marashlian (April 2 – Armenian)

My grandmother talked about how peaceful life was before the genocide… …after the Khmer Rouge, everything changed. – Zaklin Phat
Cambodia’s Past Shapes America’s Future – An Interview with Zaklin Phat (April 3 – Cambodia)

Continue reading

Could you ever forgive the people who slaughtered your family?

“…one of the main aims of the gacaca was to achieve truth, justice and reconciliation among Rwandans. Gacaca means to sit down and discuss an issue. The hearings gave communities a chance to face the accused and give evidence about what really happened and how it happened. …many people in Rwanda say this process [has] helped to mend the wounds of the past.” (src)

Hi everyone,

Where were you in April 1994? Did you know about the genocide in Rwanda? 800,000 people were killed in 100 days. How is that even possible?

It seems like it only entered mainstream consciousness in 2004 when Don Cheadle starred in Hotel Rwanda.

In April 2014, we will be twenty years on from the Rwanda genocide and it begs the question: what can we learn from it? Continue reading

We survive because we can love.

Humankind would not have endured and cannot continue without the capacity to form rewarding, nurturing, and enduring relationships. We survive because we can love. And we can love because we can empathize — that is, stand in another’s shoes and care about what it feels like to be there.
 – Bruce Perry & Maia Szalavitz

Hi everyone,

June 25, 2009 is a date of great historical significance. It is the day Michael Jackson died. Seeking to process the shock and heartbreak brought on by the suddenness of his passing, people spoke of little else that day, especially in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, also on that day, Martina Knee, of the San Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition, flew in to LAX, as I drove up from Orange County (and got distinctly, profoundly lost), in order to meet with Peter Marcus, of Jewish World Watch, in his Los Angeles law office. As Carl Wilkens Fellows (an anti-genocide leadership program) our meeting was to discuss a possible statewide initiative: to get the state of California to pass legislation for April to receive the official designation, Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month. Continue reading

Remembering the Past toward Healing our Future: April 1 (Rwanda)

April 2014 Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month

Surviving is more than just staying alive; surviving is learning how to live again.
– Carl Wilkens

Remembering the Past toward Healing our Future

A free six-event commemorative film series featuring stories of survivors and their children

My Neighbor, My Killer (2011)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Reception: 5p – 6p, Program: 6p – 8p

Soka University of America

Pauling 216 (reception in the adjacent plaza)
1 University Drive, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656
campus map
(See below for free PARKING details.)
Speakers:  Tomas Crowder-Taraborrelli, Michelle Hobby-Mears, Delly Nzella, Edith Umugiraneza, Kristi Wilson
Space is limited.

Camp Darfur, a traveling, awareness-raising six-tent refugee camp exhibit, (one for each genocide being commemorated in April), will be on campus outside the dining hall in the Campus Green area beginning at noon.
Community booths from our partnering organizations will be set up at the reception. Continue reading

Remembering the Past toward Healing our Future, A six event commemorative film series

April 2014 Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month

It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of the pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering.
– Judith Herman

Remembering the Past toward Healing our Future

A free six-event commemorative film series featuring stories of survivors and the children

Living Ubuntu, in collaboration with Amnesty International-Irvine, additional community partners and the below academic institutions, presents a six-event commemorative film series featuring the stories of survivors and their children. April is Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month, and each film commemorates a genocide that started during April. Living Ubuntu provides education about global traumas as part of its mission to heal trauma in order to promote peace.

All events are free and open to the public.

For complete details on each event, see links below. Continue reading

Unresolved trauma, ethnic conflicts, and history stuck in an endless loop

Differences are not intended to separate, to alienate. We are different precisely in order to realize our need of one another. – Desmond Tutu

Hi everyone,

2014 is almost here. My thoughts keep drifting back to events in 1994 and questions about what we have and haven’t learned in the past twenty years.

The Rwanda genocide and the publishing of Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal Theory both occurred in 1994. While one lead to the death of 800,000 people in 100 days, traumatizing multiple generations, the other put forth a new understanding of the nervous system, senses, emotions, social self and behaviors. It has contributed greatly to the fields of Infant Mental Health and Trauma Recovery, noting that under extreme stress it is our most evolved system of social engagement that goes off-line.

This morning on Facebook I noticed an article about the current violent conflict in South Sudan, posted by Mukesh Kapila, Darfur genocide whistleblower. In 1994, as part of the UN, he was sent to Rwanda at the end of the genocide while the horror was still quite apparent. (When he tells his own life story, he describes how these issues began in his life before his birth, as mass atrocities profoundly affected his family in India-Pakistan.) Continue reading

Carl Wilkens, “he is a hero and savior to me”

Carl and Teresa Wilkens

Hi everyone,

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?

Continue reading