Paul Rusesabagina is the real life hero of the acclaimed film Hotel Rwanda and the President and Founder of the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation.
As portrayed by actor Don Cheadle in the film, Rusesabagina saved the lives of more than 1,200 people during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Rusesabagina served as manager of the Hotel des Mille Collines in Kigali and bravely risked his life to shelter Hutus and Tutsis who were seeking refuge from the genocide that killed more than 800,000 people.
Rusesabagina served as special consultant to United Artists and Lion’s Gate Films’ production of Hotel Rwanda, which also starred Sophie Okonedo, Joaquin Phoenix and Nick Nolte. His popular autobiography, An Ordinary Man, was published by Penguin Group (USA) Inc. in April 2006.
In order to further the mission of his foundation, Rusesabagina now tours the world speaking about social justice, human rights activism and the lessons learned from the Rwandan genocide, one of the worst tragedies of the 20th century. He has spoken to large organizations of journalists, educators, students, policymakers, business leaders and human rights advocates throughout Europe and the United States. Rusesabagina describes his experiences during the horrific genocide, the terror and the helplessness of the people he sheltered, and the ways in which governments, non-governmental organizations and ordinary people can work together to prevent genocide throughout the world.
In 2000, Paul Rusesabagina received the Immortal Chaplains Prize for Humanity. In 2005 he received the the highest civilian award in the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, from President George W. Bush. That same year, Rusesabagina was also honored with the National Civil Rights Museum Freedom Award and the Humanitarian Award from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.
After receiving these honors, Rusesabagina formed the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation to help provide voice to victims of genocide and support peace efforts in Rwanda and throughout the world. What started as a personal mission to teach the lessons of Rwanda has become an international movement to fight genocide throughout the world.
The Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation raises public awareness about the need for an internationally administered Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region of Africa. The Foundation also works on issues related to the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where more than 5 million have died. The Foundation is campaigning for an end to Rwandan military intervention in the Congo and against the deadly exploitation of conflict minerals in the region.
Paul Rusesabagina continues to be the President of the foundation, a 501c3 public not for profit charity, based in Chicago Illinois.