13 November 2019 | Carl Wilkens, the former country director of ADRA Rwanda, was presented with an abarinzi b’Igihango (protectors of friendship pact) medal by the president of the country, Paul Kagame, on October 25, 2019.
According to Rwandan news site KT Press, the award recognizes “persons who displayed outstanding acts of courage and humanity by protecting or rescuing thousands of Rwandans during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, as well as promoting unity and reconciliation among Rwandans in its aftermath.”
Arriving in Rwanda in 1990, Wilkens was the only American who stayed in the country during the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
The former ADRA country director told KT Press that, at the time of the genocide, he decided to stay for two individuals.
“The two people were a Rwandan housemaid and a watchman with whom we had lived together for four years. I thought if I left, they would be killed. This is why I decided to stay with them,” said Wilkens.
The aid worker brought food, water and medicine to groups of orphans in the country during the genocide.