As I travel the world seeking pathways to a more peaceful planet, I have had the great privilege of meeting many courageous women who have stepped forward for peace. Many of these amazing heroines are unknown, and yet their impact is tremendous! Some of them speak on the world stage, and some quietly work behind the scenes, but in the end, each has put the future of the planet and peace for humanity squarely on the top of their todo list.
Today I would like to begin the process of acknowledging some of these amazing women who I have had the honor of working with, so that we all might realize the important part that women play in shifting the future of our planet.
Today I would like to begin with the first of a number of women I have met who are really making a difference. And so I will begin with my friend Claudine Mukamabano, a survivor of the Rwanda Genocide.
Claudine has dedicated her life to educating people on what can happen when we let religious ideology or nationalist conservatism get a hold on government, a message which I believe is crucial considering the current rise of nationalism and conservatism both in the United States and in Europe. And after being made an orphan and struggling without family or support, rather than disappear into depression or hatred of those who destroyed all that she knew, Claudine instead decided to dedicate her life to assisting the orphans of the Rwandan genocide and later all of those children who are left after any war.
Claudine woke up one morning in her home country of Rwanda Africa to gunshots and screams, and she was shortly rounded up with her family by armed men who herded her along with other people from her town. She was made to kneel down with her fellow citizens and family in a crowded building. Then the armed men, empowered by religious zealotry and conservative narratives, proceeded to rape and kill all of her friends and her family and neighbors one by one, using machetes to dismember them and gunshots to finalize the task.
When it came to her turn to die as the last villager alive, men began ripping at her clothes as a man with a bloody bush knife moved over to her, ready to finish her off once the others were finished with their gruesome sport. Claudine closed her eyes and prayed waiting for the inevitable, and then there was a profound silence.
Something outside caused a commotion and all of her captors abandoned their objective and quickly moved outside to see what was happening. Then there were gunshots and shouting, and hours later a calm silence. But no one returned to the room full of dead bodies and Claudine’s massacred family.
Claudine survived that day, and unlike so many others who simply succumb to the horror of such an experience, she instead made a vow on that day to rise up and be a light for all of the children who found themselves in that darkness.
Claudine’s work has saved many over the years, and her courage and dedication has inspired many others.
I am one of those who have had the honor of meeting this amazing heroine and have been deeply moved by her compassion and willingness to speak to power. She is a force to be reckoned with for sure!
Today I honor you Claudine. You are my hero!
May Peace Prevail On Earth!