Lisa Rogoff

Lisa Rogoff (Survivor Corps in Rwanda): Lisa has spent much of her professional career promoting human rights. She earned a BA from Colgate University. She then worked for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Committee on Conscience where she produced Voices on Genocide Prevention, a weekly podcast. Lisa then worked at the ENOUGH Project, directing campaigns to raise awareness about the crises in Sudan, Congo and Uganda. Lisa returned to academia to pursue a joint-degree at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and McDonough School of Business. While at Georgetown she worked at the Clinton Global Initiative, designing the Human Rights and Peace Track for the CGI’s second annual conference for university students. During her first year at graduate school, Lisa also worked with the Grassroots and Issues Management Team at APCO Worldwide, a global communications consulting firm. After her fellowship, Lisa wrote: "My experience in Rwanda has taught me the importance of flexibility. I’ve also seen the importance of empowering women...I don’t know that I’ve changed the way I look at myself, though I have come to understand just how fortunate I am to have been born in my circumstances. I have met so many wonderful and talented men and women in Rwanda who have been unable to realize their fullest potential because of their economic, social, or political situations.”

Don’t Stop the Music

12 Jun

“Do you like hip hop?” Kabera (formerly known to blog readers as Jean-Paul; he told me this afternoon that he prefers to go by his family name, Kabera) asked me this morning as we waited for the slow Internet connection at AERG’s offices to upload his photos.

As Rihanna set the mood, we began to put together AERG’s first web site, a very simple google site that will allow Kabera and his colleagues to share information about their organization, post photos, and allow their members to share their testimonies with the world.

About an hour earlier, Kabera shared his story with my me.  We began our interview by discussing AERG’s mission and how he gained the position of national coordinator.  As the interview went on, we delved deeper and he told me about his own experiences during the genocide.  He spoke of the murder of his father at the very beginning of April; he had gone to the Church for refuge – “a place of God” – and then the massacre of his entire family when they were discovered hiding in the marshes.  They tried to kill him too, slashing his neck and leg with a machete, but he managed to survive.

“It is very difficult,” he said several times, “It is very difficult to talk about this.”  But he continued on; he wants to ensure that the world knows what happened to his family and to him.  He wants to ensure that it never happens again, in Rwanda, or anywhere in the world.

He talked of his new, “artificial” family, the family gained through AERG.  While he is the “father” of his organization, at his university, in his small “artificial” family of 12, he is a kid.  And he loves being a kid.

“Sometimes it is just fun to be a child,” he says with a smile.

The interview went on for close to an hour as Kabera shared the most difficult details of his story, the challenges he faces as the leader of AERG, and the hope he has for Rwanda’s reconciliation and peace.  I’m hoping to figure out how to edit the footage, and will hopefully get something resembling a video up soon.

Following the interview, he asked me about my family – if I have both of my parents, how many siblings I have, if I am married or have a boyfriend – and I felt guilty with each reply.  I think he sensed my discomfort, and chimed in, “I am very happy with my new family.  We provide each other with great love and care.”  He smiled and clicked on some Rwandan tunes.

Posted By Lisa Rogoff

Posted Jun 12th, 2009

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