February 24, 2014
Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza with Steve Erwin
Left to Tell
by Immaculee Ilibagiza
Immaculee Ilibagiza grew up in Rwanda. Her mother taught most of the children in their village. Her father was always there to lend a helping hand to anyone who needed it. People regularly visited her home to ask her parents for advice. Immaculee didn’t even know about the ethnic tensions in her country until she went to middle school. She didn’t even know what ethnic group she belonged to and that might have been okay if she was Hutu.
But Immaculee and her family were Tutsi. She learned this when a Hutu teacher shamed her for not knowing, but she still didn’t understand. Why would anyone hate her family for being Tutsi?
When the killing started, Immaculee was home from college visiting her parents. She found shelter in the home of a local pastor where she remained hidden in a tiny bathroom with a group of other Tutsi women. They stayed hidden for several months, emerging into a completely different world, a world in which most of their families were missing.
I have to admit that the copy of this book I read has been around the block a few times, but that’s okay. It is just that kind of book. You finish it and you want to press it into someone’s hand and say, “You need to read this.”
That’s what I’m telling you — if you are a teen or older. This isn’t a children’s book but it is one that teens really should read. Why? For the same reason that we teach the Jewish Holocaust in our schools. The similarities between that and the Rwandan Holocaust, including the hands-off approach taken by other countries, are alarming.
Still, this is an amazing story of hope and faith because in spite of everything that she went through, Immaculee emerged from this ordeal with her faith not only intact but stronger than ever. She continues to put this faith to work every day.
This is more than a story of hatred and horror. It is, most of all, a story about faith that can overcome even the greatest obstacles.