The following comments come from Jim Ratliff, a long time Steering Committee member and librarian at KVCC...
“The Kalamazoo Valley Museum hosted a Reading Together event Friday, March 18 with the screening of the movie Hotel Rwanda. The movie retells the true-life story of a compassionate Hutu hotel manager, Paul Rusesabagina, who housed and saved over a thousand Tutsi refugees during their struggle against the Hutu militia in Rwanda.
Early in the movie the hotel manager declares to his wife after their first witnessing of a neighbor’s massacre, “There is nothing we can do.” Little did he know the horrors that were ahead of him and his extraordinary, inspirational courage to do what he could to save persecuted friends, families and villagers from the machete.
Watching this movie 15 years after the genocide, attendees spoke of how they remembered there was conflict going on in Rwanda at the time, but had little understanding of the atrocities. Credible accounts estimate up to a million people were killed in just three months during the conflict. One million lives.
It was a difficult story to accept. Several members of the audience were moved to speak to me afterward proclaiming their sorrowful ignorance of the terrible history. Much like the stories retold by Tracy Kidder however, a distant tragedy was brought to life and made more real when recounted through the lives of individuals. Individuals with courage. Individuals who received help from friends and strangers. Individuals with determination to face adversity one day at a time. Individuals who did marvelous deeds to ensure the success of a cause larger than their own.
I’m thankful to the museum for offering this movie, the museum staff who stayed late and the attendees. With the exposure to Hotel Rwanda and Strength in What Remains, hopefully we will have he strength and courage to help others in times of need.”