News from Rwanda

As many of you know, my dear friend Josh Ruxin has written a book on reconciliation, his wife’s restaurant in Rwanda, and the progress of the country entitled A Thousand Hills to Heaven: Love, Hope and a Restaurant in Rwanda.  The book is being released on November 5th and we hope for it to achieve great national and international attention.  The book features my story of forgiveness in it, and it is my hope that the book will help to engage a much broader segment of people in our national process.  In order to help the book attract attention, could you go this week into your local independent bookstore and special order as many hardcover copies as you can?  If that’s not possible, please order online here:   E-versions are also available but for optimal impact, ordering hard copies will make the biggest difference.  It would also be a tremendous help if you would take the opportunity to tell your friends and family to order it up for the holidays and to put it out on their social networks — it makes a wonderful gift.

Jean Baptiste Ntakirutimana

Solidarite Internationale pour la Reconciliation (SIR) – International Solidarity for Reconciliation – Initiative


P.O.Box 5803 Kigali, Rwanda


The Sadako Story

Sadako at age 12

Sadako was two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
She was two kilometers away from where the bomb exploded. Most of Sadako’s
neighbors died, but Sadako wasn’t injured at all, at least not in any way people could see.

But her tranquility did not last. Soon after her first encounter with extreme fatigue and
dizziness, she experienced more incidents of the same.

One day Sadako became so dizzy that she fell down and couldn’t get up. Her school-mates
noticed and informed the teacher. Later Sadako’s parents took her to the Red Cross Hospital
to see what was wrong with her. Sadako found out that she had leukemia, a kind of blood
cancer. Nobody could believe it.

Shortly thereafter, her best friend, Chizuko, came to visit her. Chizuko brought some origami
(folding paper). She told Sadako of a legend. She explained that the crane, a sacred bird in
Japan, lives for a hundred years, and if a sick person folds 1,000 paper cranes, then that person would soon get well. After hearing the legend, Sadako decided to fold 1,000 cranes in the hope that she would get well again.

Sadako kept folding cranes even though she was in great pain.. Not long afterwards, with her family standing by her bed, Sadako went to sleep peacefully, never to wake up again. She had folded a total of 644 paper cranes.

. On May 5, 1958, almost 3 years after Sadako died, enough money was collected to build the monument in her honor. It is now known as the Children’s Peace Monument, and is located in the center of Hiroshima Peace Park, close to the spot where the atomic bomb was dropped.

Children from all over the world still send folded paper cranes to be placed beneath Sadako’s statue or to placed on Peace Lanterns which are floated at the Peace Lantern Ceremony on August 6th. In so doing, they make the same wish which is engraved on the base of the statue:

This is our cry, This is our prayer, Peace in the world.

My visit to South Africa – 2011

Nelson Mandela’s table, cup and bowl in his prison cell on Robben Island, South Africa. Dot Walsh and Andrea LeBlanc went to S, Africa for the presentation of the Courage of Conscience Award to Mandela.

My Trip To Vietnam – 2014

March 27th…..Leave for airport at 5pm. Checking in we talked
with airline attendant and she changed our seats so we would
have more room.  Then she asked about our trip and said she
had been on a peace walk and low and behold she was with
Jun San and we shared our story of meeting Jun San in New
York with STONEWALK which led to going to Japan and the
following year STONEWALK Japan. 

The angels are with us!!

The first flight took us to San Francisco where we met up with
some of the other tour members.  Then on to Taiwan on China
Air and finally on to Hanoi on Vietnam Air.  24 hours in the air. Thank heavens for the leg hose!!

March 29th  We were met at the airport by Chuck Searcy one of the veteran tour guides who has lived for 18 years in Viet Nam.  He took us to the waiting bus where we met Truc our Viet Namese guide.  It took about an hour from the airport to the city.

Children at the Ordinance Training Center learning about how to identify hidden bombs.

The Lake in Hanoi

We stayed at the Diamond Hotel in Hanoi.  The first night we had a wonderful dinner at a lovely restaurant with an opportunity to meet the other people on the tour.  I spoke about the stone and its past trips and then brought out the stone for people to see and appreciate the opportunity in Viet Nam to remember innocent people killed during the War

Ann Wright and David Hartsough at DMZ

The monuments marking the end of the war

Mausoleum where Ho Chi Minh’s body is kept on display.  Interesting fact is that twice a year the body is sent to Russia to be re-embalmed.  It took at least 3 hours with foot traffic  to visit site. The building was built by Russian architects.

Visiting the Temple of Literature Museum

The power of story

Across time and culture, stories have been agents of personal transformation – in part because they change our brains

Back in the fall of 1999, Norman Conard, a history teacher at the Uniontown High School in Kansas, asked his students to come up with a project for National History Day. While brainstorming ideas, ninth-grader Elizabeth Cambers stumbled on an old clipping from US News and World Report. The story included the line, ‘Irena Sendler saved 2,500 children from the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942-43.’

Elizabeth asked her fellow ninth-grader Megan Stewart to help her with her project, and during her free time, Megan pored over the story of Irena Sendler. She learned about how this unassuming young Polish nurse had created thousands of false identity papers to smuggle Jewish children out of the ghetto. To sneak the children past Nazi guards, Sendler hid them under piles of potatoes and loaded them into gunny sacks. She also wrote out lists of the children’s names and buried them in jars, intending to dig them up again after the war so she could tell them their real identities.

Imagining herself in the young nurse’s position, Megan could appreciate just how difficult her life-threatening choices must have been. She was so moved by Sendler’s gumption and selflessness that she, Elizabeth, and two other friends wrote a play about Sendler. They called it Life in a Jar and performed it at schools and theatres. As word got out, the students’ quest to share what Sendler had done appeared on CNN, NPR, and the Today Show. The power of Sendler’s story had turned the project into something much bigger than the girls expected.

        Hanoi Hilton Prison

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