By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Rwandan genocide survivor and best-selling author Immaculee Ilibagiza will share her story April 17 at 7 p.m. in the Central High School Performing Arts Center.
Ilibagiza will talk about faith, hope and forgiveness relating to the genocide. The 75-minute presentation includes a brief video that she put together, said Monica Burchette, co- director of Project 15:12, the nonprofit organization sponsoring the talk. She noted that Ilibagiza has spoken twice at Christ Our Light conferences in Des Moines as well as in Chicago.
During her talk, Ilibagiza will share how she survived the 1994 genocide by hiding with seven other women in the bathroom of a Hutu pastor. She credits her Catholic faith with guiding her through the ordeal and will share how that faith continued to grow afterwards. Ilibagiza, who emigrated from Rwanda to the United States in 1998, welcomes the opportunity to share her experiences with others. A movie is being made about her experiences.
Copies of Ilibagiza’s book, “Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust,” will be for sale at the Davenport event along with CDs, rosaries, bracelets and other items. Ilibagiza will sign books after the talk.
Burchette and Karly Driscoll, also co-director of Project 15:12, said their group offers a speaker series each year as a fundraiser for the nonprofit. Last year they reached out to Ilibagiza but were unable to book her due to scheduling conflicts. They are glad to be able to have her come this year. “She is a great fit for our mission of loving and caring for one another,” Burchette said.
Project 15:12, begun in November 2015, emphasizes the message of John 15:12 to “Love each other as I have loved you,” Burchette said. The group’s goal is to reach out to others who are in that “middle place” due to a job loss, divorce, illness or other life transition and need a little help. They are not able to help those who qualify for other assistance programs.
“It’s for those who need short-term help and have no rainy day fund. And if we can’t help them for whatever reason financially, we will pray for them on our prayer nights.” Burchette said people who seek assistance can be of any faith or no faith at all. The group also offers referrals.
For more information on Project 15:12, Ilibagiza’s talk or to purchase tickets in advance, visit www.project1512.com. Tickets will also be available for sale at the door.