Carl Wilkens, American hero in Rwandan genocide, to speak at USF Sarasota-Manatee

Carl Wilkens, the only American to remain in Rwanda when the 1994 genocide began, will speak about international human rights and genocide at the Jane Bancroft Cook Library, 5700 N. Tamiami Trail, on January 24 at 10:30 a.m.  The event is a collaboration between USF Sarasota-Manatee and New College of Florida.

Wilkens, who is the former head of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency International in Rwanda, was considered a hero when he helped prevent the massacre of over 400 orphans during the Rwandan genocide, during which over 1 million people were killed in 100 days.  He currently travels the country as the director of World Outside My Shoes, a nonprofit organization he formed to provide education about international genocide.

The event will be presented by USF Sarasota-Manatee, New College of Florida, and Humanity Working to End Genocide, a group of over 55 organizations in Sarasota and Manatee counties whose mission is to create awareness of the genocide in Darfur and throughout the world.  The program will include an update on the vote for independence in southern Sudan, the situation in Darfur, and the growing risk of genocide in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

As part of Humanity Working to End Genocide, Richard O’Brien, an Instructor in International Human Rights, Conflict in the Modern World, and World Ideologies at USF Sarasota-Manatee, is helping organize the event.

“Public awareness of the realities surrounding genocide in foreign countries is extremely important if we want to gain an understanding of how we can help,” O’Brien said.  “Anyone who has a real interest in human rights should come to hear Carl Wilkens.  There is nothing that teaches as well as hearing the story of an individual who has actually saved lives during genocide.”

Wilkens was featured in Frontline’s “Ghosts of Rwanda” and “The Few Who Stayed: Defying Genocide,” an American Radio Works on National Public Radio.  He has received the Dignitas Humana Award from Saint John’s School of Theology and a Medal of Valor from the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

The event is free and open to the public.  For more information, contact Richard O’Brien at (941) 228-6218.