Human rights activist Clemantine Wamariya has gained international attention since her first appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2006 to share her experiences of the Rwandan genocide and a childhood spent in African refugee camps. Since that first visit, when she and her sister were reunited with their long-lost parents, Wamariya has been a guest on Oprah three more times, has graduated from Yale with a comparative literature degree, and was appointed by US President Barack Obama to the board of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Leading up to her keynote address at TRU, at the opening ceremonies for International Days, the Newsroom asked Wamariya about her fight for human rights and how she inspires others to make a difference. Follow the link below to continue reading the complete Q & A with Clemantine.
TRU: Why is it important for youth to get involved with a cause?
I have a problem with the word cause, or issue. When you think of a cause or issue, you remove the personal experience and are removed from the understanding of others in general. Because when you think of causes, you almost think of it as something foreign—it’s not us, it’s just a cause. So I’ve thought about reframing it as challenges that we’re still facing.
And this is why youth should be aware of the issues, the causes, because these are challenges we’re facing in the world today. If we don’t tackle it right now, there are more, and bigger consequences for us to deal with in the future, and it will be financial, mental, and emotional. We need to be aware of what’s going on around us because sooner or later we’re going to have to pay for it with our own money, our own time, or our own lives.
It’s important for youth to get involved in the challenges because we are so free, we have the time, we have so much energy, so much power in us right now to really tackle things that are challenging us. So when we are older and have kids, we can say, “I’m glad I did that because my kids, our kids, won’t have to worry about that challenge anymore”.
Continue reading the Q & A with Clemantine Wamariya
Read more about International Days March 11-14