Carl Wilkens is the director of World Outside My Shoes and upstander in the Rwandan genocide in 1994. He was the only American that stayed throughout the 100-day massacre of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus and tries to protect his friend in Rwanda and the kids that lived there and helped the people living in Kigali during the brutal times of war.The genocide was the result of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana’s death in a plane crash in 1994, according to the United Nations. A Hutu himself, Habyarimana’s assassination sparked the Hutus. The majority of Rwanda’s population, followed by Tutsi and Twa to slaughter the Tutsis to preserve their power.Among the violence and deaths that surrounded him during the Rwandan genocide in 1994, Carl Wilkens left his wife and kids and decided to stay in Rwanda.
This sadness just kind of came over me, because now if people in Rwanda ever needed help and I mean Rwanda was really blessed with a lot of aid organizations and everything else but if they ever needed help, now was the time; and everybody’s leaving.He stayed to help orphans who were trapped in the country during the genocide at the Gisimba orphanage it was a really desperate case because they were in the heart of the nastiest part of the city. The most belligerent killers were there in that part of Nyamirambo.They killed some people and They said they’re coming back to finish us all off at the orphanage.He knew the tension that there had been already. he had heard about pickup trucks coming into the high-density housing areas, with weapons coming in. he knew tension was growing there.he was in contact with the orphanage and school people who were fleeing onto these compounds and were being killed.
So while he was there he got used to sporadic gunfire, grenades going off from time to time, you kind of become used to that right away when the screaming started, and the distinct smell of human flesh, and During this curfew, there still were looters moving about.then he was going to an orphanage to get water for children who were dying of dysentery. Even a block from my house, I’m stopped by militia, and they’d have an old shotgun across their lap and they’d have like a monkey on a leash and a lot of the bodies on the streets, but then the colonel talked to them and told them what I had done and there where more nice. We would buy from the looters, would buy toilet paper, buy beans, buy a bottle of propane, and he would go down to the corner market and find a few tomatoes or carrots so the kid could survive there.
you’d see the bombs fall and you’d hear the gunfire constantly. For the Hutus there tried to kill everyone in the orphanage, then Police officers then showed up and said they could hold them off for a few hours while Wilkens looked for help.He eventually got in contact with Prime Minister Jean Kambamda’s secretary, who suggested he ask the prime minister for the military, and he’s fighting the RPF.
But we also know the government’s connection with all of this killing of the Tutsis.Wilkens resisted since Kambanda had been responsible for the genocide. However, Kambanda did oversee the stop of the massacre.
The WSU chapter of Amnesty International, a worldwide human rights organization, helped sponsor Wilkens and the conference over the weekend and made contact with Philippe Gaillard at the International Committee of the Red Cross and enlisting Rwanda’s Hutu prime minister to stop the massacre of children in the orphanage, then they stopped after a 100- days. His actions saved the lives of hundreds of children and many of his Rwandan friends. Elsewhere, Carl Wilkens fearlessness and generosity made it possible for him to preserve the lives of hundreds of Tutsis. Many were strangers, some were close friends and members of his own staff. He worked indiscriminately to safeguard their lives within the capital of Kigali where he was based.There wasn’t a tension between Hutus and Tutsis for the time after the genocide.These people worked together, worshipped together, married together, drank beer together. They did everything together.
Carl and his wife spent a year and a half in Rwanda after the genocide ended to assist with the rebuilding process.That is how he is an upstander in history.