1954 - Present Day
The Rwandan Genocide
April 6th, 1994: the President Juvenal Habyarimana, who was onboard a plane, was shot down and killed. Hutu extremists immediately blamed the RPF, who claimed they did not kill the president, and began planning a slaughter. Thousands of Tutsis were killed while many great nations stood by and watched, including the UN, Belgium, and France. By the time the genocide had ended on July 4th, 1994, 800,000 Tutsis had been brutally murdered.
"A sad truth of human nature is that it is hard to care for people when they are abstractions, hard to care when it is not you or somebody close to you." - Rusesabagina
Paul and his occupants were constantly threatened by the military, but he was able to protect them by contacting people abroad and eventually receiving aid and protection from the militia. Because of his efforts, he was able to save over 1,000 Tutsis. All of the people who originally went into hiding at his hotel came out alive and unscathed. Eventually, Paul was threatened by his own government and was forced to flee with his family, eventually settling in San Antonio, Texas, where he resides today.
Paul continues his work by traveling and giving inspirational talks. The hotel he formerly managed is still open for business and is considered a luxury hotel. He now has an organization called the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation. More information on that below.
"We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves." - Romans 15:1
- People are made to be in relationship with each other: As an opponent against genocide, Paul constantly speaks out against hatred, the root of genocides, and calls for peace. He believes that the human race should in loving communion with each other rather than made to be broken up by war and hatred.
Paul also demonstrated justice through the Corporal Works of Mercy.
- Shelter the homeless: Paul offered refuge for those who were forced to abandon home and had no place to go.
- Feed the hungry/Give drink to the thirsty: Paul provided for those who he took in by giving them provisions.
Lastly, Paul's work demonstrates elements found in principles of the Old Law and New Law.
- Respect for human life: Paul recognizes and respects that each person is a person of dignity and should be treated as such. By having this mentality, Paul was able to overlook the government's claims that the Tutsis were evil and chose to save them.
- Special concern for the vulnerable: The Tutsis were at their most vulnerable during the Rwandan genocide. Most had to flee from their homes and had nowhere to go, running the risk of betrayal if they were to ask someone for help. Although helping them put Paul in a state of risk himself, he still used his position as hotel manager for good and helped hide the Tutsis. Now, Paul focuses on caring for orphans by providing them with an education and other provisions they may need.