This Autumn, I feel very privileged to be working with Carl Wilkens and Jean-Francois Gisimba, two personal heroes of mine. They, together with Jean-Francois’ brother Damas, were responsible for saving the lives of over 400 Tutsi and moderate Hutu during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. Hundreds of people had taken refuge at the Gisimba orphanage, run by the two brothers. While Damas and Jean-Francois worked to protect them from the local militia who were about to stage a massacre, Carl negotiated with various authorities to secure the safe transit of hundreds of people into safe areas.
All put their personal safety at risk for others, without question. All risked their lives for marginalised people, without hesitation. This stands in stark contrast to the casual and unquestioning – almost lazy – hatred that underpinned the actions of the thousands of neighbours, colleagues and so-called ‘friends’ who committed the 1994 Genocide. This ethos, these decisions to protect others despite the personal cost – this spirit is what underpins Aegis Students. The chance to facilitate Carl and Jean-Francois sharing this message with students across the UK is exactly what makes the difficulties of this job worthwhile – you can’t help but be moved.