Just to clarify: this isn't some sort of advanced birthday present request list, although all donations are welcome.
Exactly a week after I was born 800,000 Rwandans were murdered by their neighbors and 'friends' in just under 100 days. There is something incredibly unnerving about knowing that just as I was being a boring, yet weirdly cute newborn, hundreds of thousands of people I would never meet or know were about die. If you think about it like that, then it makes you wonder why I find it weird, let alone upsetting. I never met these people, and Rwanda would scarcely be on my radar today if this hadn't happened.
But what happened was so horrible, so incomprehensible. That one day people were hacking their neighbors and friends to pieces and for what? Some minor 'racial' difference that, in retrospect, was made up to begin with. When you look at Rwanda's history, and their escape from the slave trade (it's a hilly country, and invaders are usually lazy) it's easy to think of it as a lucky country. Paul Kagame, their current president, despite his faults, is rarely considered to be in the same category of other, corrupt African leaders like Mugabe.
The film 'Hotel Rwanda' is an incredibly well-made film showing the horrific events through the eyes of luxury hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina, who managed to save the lives of 1,268 terrified people despite their country descending into hell around them. It inspired me to get into human rights campaigning and, despite not being a movie buff by any stretch, I would definitely recommend you all watch it!
I've just finished his autobiography, and whilst I'm not a fan of the Daily Mail, their command of 'Read this book. It will humble and inspire you' definitely seems appropriate. I genuinely think that it is the most well-written and eloquent life stories I have ever read; even when he describes freaking out (which admittedly rarely seemed to happen) he still seemed calm and many times I was literally left gaping at his quick-thinking and the lifesaving impact that the offer of a drink to a crazed machete-wielding lieutenant could have.
Trials are still ongoing and justice is yet to be achieved for Rwanda. Clinton describes it as his biggest regret, Kofi Annan took passive to a whole new level and there are thousands of Rwandan teens who would be my age but hatred forbade them from celebrating with me. There's a lot we can learn from Rusesasabagina: compassion, morality and staying sane when everyone else has gone mental, but most importantly, simple as it sounds doing the right thing.