Emmanuel Habimana was our 2012-2013 Roméo Dallaire Scholarship recipient. He notes that all of his involvement and interest in human rights comes from his experience as a genocide survivor and his need to reunite his community in peace. Most of his work has been “in counseling fellow survivors in unity and reconciliation, helping them with their basic needs, and providing education about genocide to the world.”
During secondary school, Emmanuel served as Vice-President of his school’s Unity and Reconciliation Club and assisted in organizing athletic and cultural events, as well as “conferences for my peers to discuss issues about ethnicity and the relationship that ethnicity in Rwanda had to the genocide.” He also held the position of President of the Umuhuza Youth Association in the Nyakabanda sector of Kigali. During this time, he helped to create English classes for fellow youth in his area, and he sponsored public forums about HIV/AIDS education and prevention.
Emmanuel later worked for the Interdisciplinary Genocide Studies Center summer program. The purpose of this program is to bring groups of international college students and teachers to Rwanda every summer to do field studies on the 1994 genocide. He has worked with students and teachers from the United States, Russia, Australia, Canada, Nigeria, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Since 2010, while enrolled as a student in Kigali Independent University, Emmanuel has been co-directing a documentary about the children who were orphaned by the genocide in Rwanda called Komora: to heal. It is being funded by two grants from National Geographic Society and sponsored by an organization called Education for the World. In this documentary he personally interviews senator Romeo Dallaire, who was the chief commander of UNAMIR in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide and in whose name the Lewis& Clark College Dallaire Scholarship is named.
A message from Emmanuel:
Sometimes as survivors we feel misunderstood by our fellow Rwandans and the outside world. I contribute to my society by doing projects that raise awareness about the issues we face and helping survivors feel understood and appreciated.”
After completing the Academic English Studies program at Lewis and Clark, I will apply what I’ve been studying by becoming a secondary school English teacher and a writer. Also, because I have been working on this documentary, I have developed an interest in journalism. This has given me the dream of applying for a grant to create a human rights magazine in Rwanda, teaching people through the magazine about peace, reconciliation and respect between ethnicities. I will also create a human rights English club at my university where I will apply what I have learned at Lewis and Clark. Lastly, I would like to write a book about my life surviving the genocide and making something of myself in the years after.
Update, May 2013: Before coming to L&C, the truth is that I had always assumed that it was almost always impossible to live with the people with whom you did not share the same ethnicity or race, or sometimes beliefs. This year I learned that, despite our differences - which should not be a factor at all - we have so much to learn from each other. I have learned that we have so much in common. Our race and ethnicities, skin color and many other differences are like many types of flowers in the garden. When you look at this garden you see the beauty, not the differences. You see many colors decorating the garden.
I have finally concluded that we are all the flowers of this planet. We are the beauty of humanity.
Komora: to heal
Thank you to all who attended the recent screenings of Komora: to heal. This film was co-directed by Dallaire scholar Emmanuel Habimana and his colleague, Natalia Ledford. For more information about the film, please visit the website.
Update, September 2015: Emmanuel continues to work on his Bachelor’s degree, and hopes to complete it next year.