Paul Rusesabagina

1954 - Present Day

The Rwandan Genocide

Rwanda's population largely consisted of two ethnicities: the Hutus and the Tutsis. In 1959, the Hutus overthrew the Tutsi monarchy and replaced it with Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana. A group of Tutsis, exiled and bitter, formed the rebel RPF, or Rwandan Patriotic Front, and waged war against the Hutus until 1993, when a peace deal was arranged.

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 Rusesabagina, ethnicially a Hutu, was born on June 15, 1954 in Gitarma Rwanda. Paul had just become the general manager at Hotel des Mille Collines in Kigali, Rwanda when the genocide began. Despite the hatred between his own ethnicity and the Tutsis, Paul, whose own wife was a Tutsi, began hiding them in his hotel.

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

Paul's work has demonstrated God's original plan of holiness for people.
  • 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.

Paul's Organization

In continuation of his work, Paul has founded the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation in 2005, an organization that raises awareness about genocides in hopes to prevent them in the future. It also provides educational assistance for African orphans of civil wars, genocides, and the AIDS epidemic. You can contribute to the cause by donating to the foundation's kickstarter, which will help raise awareness about living conditions in Rwanda.
Welcome to the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation