On April 6, 1994, the airplane carrying the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi was shot down over Kigali. That moment was like “oil on fire,” setting off the devastating Rwandan Genocide. Yvonne Baraketse’s father, Chief of Staff of the Rwandan army, was also on the airplane and killed in the attack. Yvonne was 14 years old. Her immediate family lost many relatives and friends in the violent aftermath, managing themselves to escape to Belgium. Although prayer had sustained her through the terrors of war, now a refugee she ceased to pray, feeling God had abandoned her and her people. But while in Brussels, she found the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, which enabled her to forgive and look forward. She subsequently was made a refugee a second time in Hurricane Katrina, and was inspired to seek an MPA after observing relief efforts there. Yvonne lives in gratitude for her life, and has dedicated it to building bridges and lifting others: through service, through education, through dance.

A condensed transcript of this interview, including photographs, can be found here.