The real life hero from the award-winning movie "Hotel Rwanda" shared his story at Bridgewater College this week. Paul Rusesabagina risked his life to help save others during the Rwandan genocide where nearly a million people were killed in just three months.
Rusesabagina, a hotel manager, hid or protected more than 1,000 refugees from certain death. The film "Hotel Rwanda," which chronicles Rusesabagina's heroism, was nominated for three Academy Awards.
Rusesabagina says the movie is quite accurate. "All the scenes are exactly as they happened, but sometimes a little bit made less violent," he stated.
Rusesabagina says people think genocide just happens overnight, but according to him, that was not the case. "We were in a civil war, Hutus and Tutsis fighting for power," he said.
Then April 6, 1994 was day one of an organized Hutu mission to wipe out the Tutsis. Over 800,000 Rwandans - men, women and children - were slaughtered mostly with machetes.
Rusesabagina stated, "You could see trucks taking bodies from just the roadsides, putting them in the ton trucks and bringing them into mass graves. It was so brutal and you could see it."
At the time Rusesabagina was the manager of the Milles Collines Hotel in Kigali, The capital of Rwanda. For 100 days, he sheltered 1,268 refugees at the hotel.
He and his family were to be evacuated, but he watched his family go while he stayed behind. Rusesabagina said he had to listen to his conscience. "If I leave this place and these people are killed, will I be able to go to bed and sleep?" he stated.
Rusesabagina says the genocide happened while the world wasn't watching and those that were, did nothing: "We do not need people who would come and stand by, we need peacemakers."
Now the decorated humanitarian travels the world sharing his story. Rusesabagina currently lives in Belgium with his family, because he says it is not safe for him in Rwanda.