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Rose Mapendo

Humanitarian, Activist & Congolese Genocide Survivor


When ethnic violence engulfed the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the late 1990s, Rose Mapendo was imprisoned with her family. Her harrowing experience included the nighttime arrest of her entire family by government agents, the execution of her husband, the birth of their twin sons in prison, and grim negotiations with prison guards to save the lives of her children. She emerged from this experience advocating forgiveness and reconciliation. In a country where ethnic violence has created seemingly irreparable rifts among Tutsis, Hutus, and other Congolese, this remarkable woman is a vital voice in her beleaguered nation's search for peace.

Today, Mapendo is a global activist for peace and reconciliation and an in-demand motivational speaker. Her work has had a significant impact and encourages world and local leaders to revisit the manner in which they enforce justice. Mapendo has been honored by the White House and in 2009 was named Humanitarian of the Year by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

She founded the Rose Mapendo Foundation in 2012 - a nonprofit committed to empowering widows, women, and children around the world with peace center in Kigali assisting widows and women in the region with hope for change.

Rose Mapendo's story has been chronicled in the documentary film Pushing the Elephant, which premiered in New York City in June 2010. Her inspiring and heartfelt message is received by corporate, government, and community groups around the world with tears and standing ovations at every turn. And most of all, Mapendo is a victim no more. She is a true hero, an incredible survivor, and an inspiration to us all.

Read full bio.


Surviving & Thriving

Overcoming Overwhelming Obstacles

Peace & Reconciliation

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