Young survivors appear on `Oprah' to discuss genocide and raise awareness of other atrocities after their stories win essay contest
But then she read "Night," Elie Wiesel's wrenching account of his days in Nazi death camps during the Holocaust, and suddenly the haunting events she had witnessed at age 5 in Rwanda came flooding back.
She wrote a moving 1,000-word account of her survival and last month was among 50 students across the nation to win a high school essay contest sponsored by Oprah Winfrey. Another winner, Clemantine Wamariya, 18, a sophomore at New Trier High School in Winnetka, also survived the 1994 mass killing of 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis, at the hands of Hutu militiamen.
Since writing their essays, both students, who came to the Chicago area separately through charities that help resettle refugees, have used their fame to speak against genocide. Wamariya has told her story at area high schools. Rutagengwa, 17, has urged classmates to sign a petition asking politicians to stop the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan, where some 4 million people have died in ethnic fighting.
"I survived the genocide," said Rutagengwa, wearing a green T-shirt that said "Save Darfur." "I feel like I'm here now and there are injustices so I can't sit back and watch without doing something about it."
Winfrey's essay contest asked students to answer the question "Why is Elie Wiesel's book `Night' relevant today?" About 50,000 students responded, and the winners won a $10,000 prize toward college tuition.
On May 25, Rutagengwa and Wamariya appeared with Wiesel on an episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" that was devoted to discussing "Night" and the experiences that led each student to write an essay.
"I still live it. I close my eyes and I'm back screaming," said Wamariya, who survived at age 6 by hiding in a banana tree while militiamen killed members of her family. "All I can do is share my story."
Rutagengwa's journey to activism began earlier this year when a history teacher at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart, where she is a junior, urged her to read "Night." Rutagengwa couldn't put the book down.
"It was hard to remember that stuff and keep reading," she said. "It was very powerful."
In her essay she contrasted Wiesel's terror of nighttime in the Nazi camps with her own feelings of safety under cover of darkness. She was terrified of the daylight, she said, when the militias went out killing. At night, her family crept from place to place to keep from being discovered and killed.
Rutagengwa was particularly moved by passages in "Night" that describe Wiesel's feelings that God had forsaken his people. "I [also] felt God had abandoned us," she said. "For me, it was hard to go back to church."
Wamariya, who still has nightmares about her experiences, said she identified with Wiesel's description of nighttime. At night she felt the absence of hope most acutely, she said.
After hiding in the banana tree, she and her sister, Claire, then 15, escaped on foot to Burundi, walking for days without food to reach the border. From there, the girls bounced from one refugee camp to another, through Congo, South Africa, Zambia and elsewhere in search of a home before coming to Chicago in 2000.
At each place the sisters searched for their parents at Red Cross outposts but always came away empty-handed and assumed they had died in the genocide.
Then in 2001 a friend from Rwanda came to dinner in Chicago. The friend, it turned out, knew the girls' aunt. They called her in Rwanda and discovered their parents were alive.
Winfrey secretly flew the girls' parents to Chicago, and in a moving segment of the show, they walked onstage and surprised their daughters.
"It was great," Wamariya said. "I hadn't seen my parents in 12 years."
Speaking at high schools has helped Wamariya come to terms with her experiences, she said. Reading "Night" helped her take that step. "[The book] encouraged me to speak. It made me strong," she said.
Sometimes she speaks about the politics that led to genocide, she said. She describes how someone's physical features--Tutsis are typically tall and thin-boned, with long fingers and hands--could be used as an excuse for murder.
"It helps the [students] understand how horrible war can get and how hateful and cruel we can be if we put racism on the table in front of us," Wamariya said.
For Rutagengwa, reading "Night" gave her a new sense of purpose. Besides organizing the petition, she encourages students to buy T-shirts from agencies that aid Darfur and has written to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) about the need for U.S. aid to the region.
She would rather act to create a better future than remember a miserable past, she said. She rarely speaks of her experiences in Rwanda, where her parents and grandparents were killed.
Her surviving aunt and siblings would rather forget the terror of that time. "We don't like to remember that stuff," Rutagengwa said.
Wamariya agreed that many Rwandans choose to remain silent.
"A lot of us try to erase it," she said. She would rather speak out. "I think erasing it isn't a way to solve it. We should talk about it instead."
The Oprah Winfrey Show Wikipedia.
Leadership Academy The Chance of a Lifetime oprah winfrey yearbook high school young sophmore .
contest essay high national oprahs school FC Oprah winfrey vs ellen degeneres essay Mum s Lounge The diversity council in the small coastal.
Oprah Winfrey says she could run for president in since Trump .
Oprah High School Essay Contest.
Dec Henley On Klip Gauteng Province South Africa .
Essay high national oprahs school Oprah and her girls cut the ribbon to open the academy .
Oprah Winfrey Foundation African Public Service Fellowship In USA maya angelou essay maya angelou essay wwwgxart essays on maya When old folks laugh they free.
Essay contest oprah INPIEQ Source Miss Black Tennessee.
Oprah winfrey national high school essay contest Homework BoxIP Net Contest essay high oprah school winner looking for someone to David Icke Forum You can win.
Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls Call for .
Oprah Girl Kaylah Pantale n comes home to Yonkers Academy of Achievement.
SUIT OVER ALLEGED OPRAH MILE HIGH CLUB Oprah Winfrey Paper Writing Website BoxIP Net.
images about Oprah Winfrey on Pinterest Della reese Ebony BellaNaija Oprah winfrey persuasive essay Contest essay high national oprah school .
Would Oprah Winfrey Ever Consider Running for President Daily Mail.
Oprah High School Essay Contest Studentnis org.
Oprah Winfrey s reach felt in Lehigh Valley lehighvalleylive com Ascend Surgical Sales Contest essay high national oprah school.
essays oprah winfrey leadership qualities Tanzania Opportunities For Africans Wiki essays on executive privilege outline term paper write.
essay high oprah school.
Statistics on High School Students and Teens Stage of Life Daily Mail.
Essay on oprah winfrey Cdc stanford resume help Opportunity Desk.
Exclusive Interview With Oprah About Her School for Girls HuffPost.
Contest essay high oprah school winfrey Research paper Service Essay grading national oprahs teacher Nicholas Walker Tony Robbins One trait defines the most successful people.
Book cover of Live Your Best Life A Treasury of Wisdom Wit Advice.
Best images about Oprah on Pinterest Ebony magazine cover .
contest essay oprahs Scholarship Oprah Winfrey Biography life family childhood parents name Nothing to miss Oprah admitted that she was.
Oprah and her girls cut the ribbon to open the academy Design Synthesis.
Oprah Girl Kaylah Pantale n comes home to Yonkers.
Gay marriage debate against essays on friendship help writing essays for english Gay marriage debate against essays on friendship help writing essays for ESL Energiespeicherl sungen.
Meet the Essay Contest Winners Daily Mail Www Oprah Winfrey with .
Essay high national oprahs school Ascend Surgical Sales.
Oprah essay contest mfacourses ningessaybe me.
Oprah Winfrey American television personality actress and Ascend Surgical Sales.
Nabeelah Fredericks and her excited brother Luqmaan after hearing the good news .
oprah national essay contest BibMe Free Bibliography Citation Maker MLA APA .
Essay high national oprahs school BOOMSbeat.
An Essay on Oprah Winfrey for Students Kids and Children Oprah winfrey national high school essay contest.
Meet the Essay Contest Winners Ascend Surgical Sales.
Oprah Winfrey American television personality actress and Pinterest.
Oprah Winfrey Talk Show Host Actress Producer Television Producer Film Actor Film Actress Philanthropist Film Actress Biography com.
contest essay high national oprahs school One on One with Elie Wiesel One on One with Elie Wiesel Biography of oprah winfrey essay .
Oprah Winfrey The Motley Fool.
Voluntary Action Orkney.
Oprah Winfrey is The Woman I Most Admire by Diana Cherop EduInReview com.
Oprah Winfrey s reach felt in Lehigh Valley lehighvalleylive com.
Best images about Oprah Winfrey on Pinterest Schools in Ascend Surgical Sales.
Contest Essay High Oprah School Winfrey Contest essay oprah winfrey winner.
Similar articles Forbes.
essay high oprah school.
Quincy Jones and Oprah Winfrey at the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles where Ascend Surgical.
Oprah Winfrey Academy of Achievement.
Travelling companion Winfrey was joined by longtime boyfriend Stedman Graham above in North Carolina Ascend Surgical Sales.
Essay high national oprahs school Business Insider.
Contest Essay High Oprah School Winfrey.
Lessons Learned from Oprah Winfrey.
LA Youth Essay contest What has changed your life .
Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy For Girls South Africa Oprah Winfrey Talk Show Host Actress Producer Television Producer Film Actor Film Actress Philanthropist Film Actress Biography com.
Contest essay high national oprah school Biography for Kids Oprah Winfrey Biography for Kids Oprah Winfrey ABC News Go com.
oprah winfrey yearbook high school young sophmore photo GC .
Oprah Girl Kaylah Pantale n comes home to Yonkers CNBC com.
An Essay on Oprah Winfrey for Students Kids and Children Essay grading national oprahs teacher Nicholas Walker Tony Robbins One trait defines the most successful people.
The My Hero Project Oprah Winfrey s Leadership Academy for Girls Opportunity Desk.
Oprah winfrey hero essay.
Oprah Winfrey shows off weight loss in top and elegant skirt at ESL Energiespeicherl sungen Oprah Winfrey Starring In The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks .
contest essay oprahs.
contest essay oprah winfreys NYMag.
Essay high national oprahs school.
Best images about Oprah on Pinterest Ebony magazine cover Einstein critical thinking quotes Contest essay high national oprah school.
Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy The My Hero Project Bhumibol Aduyadej.
Oprah Winfrey s reach felt in Lehigh Valley lehighvalleylive com Einstein critical thinking quotes A Super inspiring List of Oprah Winfrey s Accomplishments The Posh Review Essay on charismatic leadership.
The sad story of Oprah the handbag and the shop assistant The ESL Energiespeicherl sungen Essay contest winner Iris Yang.
Oprah Winfrey Created a Planned Community for Katrina Refugees How d That Work Out .
oprah winfrey yearbook high school young sophmore .
Busy star Oprah shown in June in West Hollywood California has three.
Oprah Winfrey s reach felt in Lehigh Valley lehighvalleylive com INPIEQ Bio Oprah Winfrey .
The sad story of Oprah the handbag and the shop assistant The .
essay on oprah winfrey short essay on oprah winfrey a short essay AppTiled com Unique App Finder Engine Latest Reviews Market News Amazon com Oprah Winfrey and the Glamour of Misery An Essay on Dunwoody School Daze blogger.
Contest Essay High Oprah School Winfrey Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy The My Hero Project Bhumibol Aduyadej.
Oprah Winfrey recalls the night she was sent to live with her Ascend Surgical.
Oprah Winfrey TVSA Ascend Surgical.
Contest essay high national oprah school writinggroup web fc com.
INFORMATIVE ESSAY ON OPRAH WINFREY Carpinteria Rural Friedrich.
Leadership Academy The Chance of a Lifetime.
year old achieves desire to attend Oprah s academy in South .
Contest essay high national oprah school gopnik essay essaybay Oprah Girl Kaylah Pantale n comes home to Yonkers.
Contest essay high national oprah school.
Oprah Winfrey Academy of Achievement Oprah com.
Oprah winfrey national high school essay contest Homework Oprah com.
Elie Wiesel and Oprah Winfrey.
Leadership Academy The Chance of a Lifetime INPIEQ.
Exclusive Interview With Oprah About Her School for Girls HuffPost Ningessaybe me.
Essay high national oprahs school Ipgproje com High School in Nashville Tennessee In her senior year Ascend Surgical Sales.
a hero essay what is a hero essay wwwgxart essay on a hero img g LinkedIn Einstein critical thinking quotes.
contest essay oprah winfreys INPIEQ Best images about Oprah on Pinterest Tyler perry Chicago apartment and Denzel washington.
essay on oprah winfrey short essay on oprah winfrey a short essay Utahns win Oprah contest.
Leadership Academy The Chance of a Lifetime Daily Mail Oprah winfrey biography essay Buzzle corpus based genre analysis essay College Candy.
Oprah Girl Kaylah Pantale n comes home to Yonkers BoxIP Net Oprah Winfrey says she could run for president in since Trump won syracuse com.
Oprah Winfrey s reach felt in Lehigh Valley lehighvalleylive com Oprah winfrey national high school essay contest.
contest essay oprahs TVSA Oprah Winfrey is not mother herself but thanks to the first graduates of the Oprah.