Speaker aspires to promote recovery of Rwanda

Carl wilkins

Child of God:

Carl Wilkins has founded World Outside My Shoes, a nonprofit. Those who donate will recieve a copy of Wilkins' book, "I'm Not Leaving."

Photo by Shawn Havel

Despite what Americans know about conflicts in Africa and any representations media have portrayed of Rwanda specifically, one man who stayed during the 1994 genocide has a completely different view of a country that is dear to him.

Carl Wilkins, a man who stayed in Rwanda while others fled the country including his wife and children, spoke to Laramie County Community College students April 12.

"This is not a balanced presentation," Wilkins warned the audience.

In his speech "Saying no to killers," Wilkins chose not to dwell on a mass killing within a country, but how the country has since recovered and the power of humans making connections among one another.

Wilkins said he doesn't believe sharing horrors brings peace, but that sharing positive stories builds hope and change.

Prior to Wilkin's speech, LCCC political science instructor David Marcum explained the history of major conflicts within central Africa, specifically between two major social groups in Africa, the Hutu and Tutsi.

Wilkins acknowledged a line separates the two groups; however, he said, the line dividing the two groups "gets messed up by love."

Rwanda on mend

He said because of this Rwanda now has made incredible strides in education, a growing economy and increasing rights for women especially in leadership roles.

Wilkins said hate stems from the idea of the world being a better place by excluding.

"Genocide stems from thinking 'my world would be better without you in it,'" Wilkins said.

He said he believed if we stop thinking in terms of "my world, but our world," then genocide and discrimination can be prevented.

Wilkins also said he believed the two most powerful tools to prevent hate crimes are service and stories. By sharing stories with one another and serving one another humans make the strongest connections and begin to understand one another," he said.

Another idea in which Wilkins said he believed is enemies are not born, but instead constructed by ideas of hatred. By sharing stories and providing service humans can deconstruct the enemies they have created.

One specific story Wilkins shared was of a woman he knew in Rwanda who was a Tutsi whose family was murdered by Hutu soldiers during the genocide. She later went on to marry a Hutu, and Wilkins recalled asking how she could marry a Hutu afterward, and she responded, "We are all the children of God." Wilkins found this statement to be extremely profound.

"To love and to trust, it's huge," Wilkins said.

Wilkins is the founder of World Outside My Shoes, a nonprofit organization and has written a book "I'm Not Leaving" from his experiences in Rwanda. Wilkins will return to Wyoming to speak in Laramie April 24 at 5:30 p.m. at the University of Wyoming.

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