Ford School of Public Policy
In 1994 Paul Rusesabagina, a Hutu manager of a luxury hotel in Rwanda, sheltered over 1,200 people, including his own Tutsi wife and children, saving their lives at a time when extremists massacred more than 800,000 members of the Tutsi and moderate Hutu tribes in just 100 days.
Considered the "Rwandan Schindler," his wrenching story and that of the genocide is chronicled in the critically acclaimed film, Hotel Rwanda, a riveting account of a man finding courage within himself to save others in the midst of his country's darkest moment.
When Rwanda descended into madness, Rusesabagina took action. A fastidious, crafty, and yet highly principled businessman, he resorted to desperate tactics. While militants threatened and surrounded the well-groomed grounds of the hotel, he spent hours on the phone, pleading with influential leaders, his international connections his only defense against attack. He bartered luxury items such as money, gold, cigars, and aged bottles of wine he hoarded in his hotel, for the lives of strangers seeking refuge in the chaos. Miraculously, no one who housed at his hotel died.
He has since founded the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation (HRRF) which provides support, care, and assistance to children orphaned by, and women abused during, the genocide in Rwanda. Lauded by many, he is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National Civil Rights Museum Freedom Award, and the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award. In 2005 Paul Rusesabagina was awarded the University of Michigan's Wallenberg Medal external link and offered a lecture in the Power Center.