Yesterday we visited the genocide memorial in Nyamata where thousands were killed inside and outside of a Catholic Church building where Rwandans had fled for safety in 1994. When we arrived in Nyamata we picked up one of our friends, J.M. Vianney, who had not been able to get to this church building in 1994. So he survived, but his wife, four children, mother and father were all killed.
The five of us arrived at the memorial and our guide was about to begin. A small bus pulled up, so we waited for that group. This was a group of theatrical students from Buffalo State College. Two men were with the college students; their professor and a man Scott and I had seen at the Genocide Memorial on Friday. I mentioned to Scott on Friday, “I think that is Carl Wilkens.” On Saturday before we entered the building I introduced myself. He said, “I’m Carl Wilkens. Let’s talk after the tour.” Carl is the only American who stayed in Rwanda during the genocide. Hundreds of Rwandans survived the genocide because Carl stayed. We did talk until his group needed to leave.
The door was opened for more discussions concerning Rwanda. Also, the students intend to create a play from their experience in Rwanda to be presented in public schools in New York (www.annefrankproject.com). They assured me I would receive an invitation.