West Leadership Academy was proud to host Carl Wilkens and his wife Teresa for an assembly for our high school students. As a humanitarian aid worker, Carl Wilkens moved his young family to Rwanda in the spring of 1990. When the genocide was launched in April 1994, Carl refused to leave, even when urged to do so by close friends, his church and the United States government. Thousands of expatriates evacuated and the United Nations pulled out most of its troops. Carl was the only American to remain in the country. Venturing out each day into streets crackling with mortars and gunfire, he worked his way through roadblocks of angry, bloodstained soldiers and civilians armed with machetes and assault rifles in order to bring food, water and medicine to groups of orphans trapped around the city. His actions saved the lives of hundreds. When he spoke today, he wove stories of 1994 with the past and the present in a way that made us think about what it means to have integrity and faith!
Many of the students were inspired by his quote, “We are not defined by what we lost-what was taken. We are defined by what we do with what remains.” He reminded us that good and evil are always present, it depends on what you look for in “the other.” He challenged us to think about our words and actions when we disagree with others. Powerful!
One girl said she is inspired to make a difference in others’ lives from what Carl told us. He reminded us that one person can make a difference. One person can do something small to help out others. We invite more students to share your stories of what you took away from Carl’s talk! Let’s start a conversation!
Our principal bought all the books Carl and Teresa brought so all high schoolers can read his book. The book is soon to be published in Spanish and we will buy copies for our Spanish speakers as well.
For more information about Carl and Teresa visit: http://www.worldoutsidemyshoes.org