2009-05-08 / Community

Rwandan Author Electrifies Belle Harbor Audience


A crowd of more than 500 ticket-holders jammed St. Francis de Sales Church on April 29 to hear Immaculee Illibagiza, author of the bestseller, "Left To Tell," which documents her horrifying experiences while escaping from the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. Illibagiza survived because she and seven other women were safely hidden in a 3' by 4' bathroom for 91 days by a Protestant minister. Although the author's entire family was murdered, she delivered a passionate message of peace, faith and forgiveness, which resonated with the audience. She was given a rousing standing ovation at the conclusion of her remarks and attendees then lined up around the perimeter of the school gymnasium to purchase her book. Illibagiza then autographed copies of her work for the audience for over an hour. Genie Smilowitz (left), of Belle Harbor, was one of the first in line for the author's autograph. Another member of the audience was the lucky recipient of a rosary from Illibagiza. The event was organized by a committee headed by Kathy McGowan, and the author was welcomed to St. Francis de Sales parish by Msgr. John Brown. Photos by Vivian Rattay Carter. A crowd of more than 500 ticket-holders jammed St. Francis de Sales Church on April 29 to hear Immaculee Illibagiza, author of the bestseller, "Left To Tell," which documents her horrifying experiences while escaping from the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. Illibagiza survived because she and seven other women were safely hidden in a 3' by 4' bathroom for 91 days by a Protestant minister. Although the author's entire family was murdered, she delivered a passionate message of peace, faith and forgiveness, which resonated with the audience. She was given a rousing standing ovation at the conclusion of her remarks and attendees then lined up around the perimeter of the school gymnasium to purchase her book. Illibagiza then autographed copies of her work for the audience for over an hour. Genie Smilowitz (left), of Belle Harbor, was one of the first in line for the author's autograph. Another member of the audience was the lucky recipient of a rosary from Illibagiza. The event was organized by a committee headed by Kathy McGowan, and the author was welcomed to St. Francis de Sales parish by Msgr. John Brown. Photos by Vivian Rattay Carter.

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