Genocide Survivor to Speak at UCF

Rose Mapendo, a survivor of the genocide in the Democratic Republic of Congo, will share her story about overcoming political violence with the University of Central Florida community.

Mapendo will speak at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 20, in the Pegasus Ballroom of the Student Union. The event, organized by the UCF Global Perspectives Office, is part of the 2011-2012 theme “People Power, Politics and Global Change.” It is free and open to the public.

Mapendo and her family were victims of a wave a violence that swept the Congo in the aftermath of the 1998 Rwandan invasion. The government labeled those with her family’s ethnicity “the enemy.” Soldiers and civilians hunted down, jailed, tortured and killed their fellow Congolese.

Mapendo and her family were captured, and her husband was executed while she sat helplessly in a jail cell. Early on in her captivity, Mapendo learned she was pregnant with twins. Over the next 16 months, she struggled with the pregnancy and with raising two newborns in the harshest of conditions. She and her family were eventually flown to a refugee camp in Cameroon, and then they were relocated to the United States.

Mapendo, whose story has been chronicled in the documentary film “Pushing the Elephant,” now works to speak out against genocide and help those who have endured it. She co-founded New Horizons, a nonprofit organization committed to informing the world about the effects war has on women and children.

She has been honored by the White House, and in 2009 she was named Humanitarian of the Year by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

In addition to the Global Perspectives Office, sponsors of Mapendo’s presentation include The Sibille H. Pritchard Global Peace Fellowship program, Lawrence J. Chastang and the Chastang Foundation, LarsonAllen LLP, the UCF Political Science Department, the UCF Global Peace and Security Studies Program, the UCF Office of Diversity Initiatives, the UCF International Services Center, the UCF Book Festival 2012 in association with the Morgridge International Reading Center, UCF LIFE and the Global Connections Foundation.

For a full list of upcoming events or to learn more about the Global Perspectives Office, visit http://ucfglobalperspectives.org.