The Thomas Hardye School

THS hosts Dr Carl Wilkens during Holocaust Memorial Week 2015


Carl and Teresa Wilkens



During this year's Holocaust Memorial Week, The Thomas Hardye School hosted Dr Carl Wilkens and Mrs Teresa Wilkens on the first stage of their UK lecture tour.  Activist and humanitarian, Dr Carl Wilkens moved his young family to Rwanda in the spring of 1990 where he served as the country director for the Adventist Development and Relief Agency . When the genocide against the Tutsi was launched in April of 1994, Dr Wilkens sent his family with the rest of the American evacuees to Burundi, but refused to leave himself, even when urged to do so by close friends, his church, and the United States government.  Thousands of expatriates were evacuated and the United Nations pulled out most of its troops. Dr Wilkens was the only American to remain in Kigali, the capital city.  Venturing out each day into streets crackling with mortars and gunfire, he worked his way through roadblocks of angry, blood-stained soldiers and civilians armed with machetes and assault rifles in order to bring food, water, and medicine to groups of orphans trapped around the city. His actions together with Rwandan colleagues saved the lives of hundreds.  His story reminds us of the profound connection between history and the moral choices we face each day. It also arms us with new insights in the fight against genocide along with tools and inspiration for re-evaluating the relationships we are part of every day.

As part of his stay, Dr Wilkens spoke at a variety of schools in Dorset including Sherborne School for Girls, Purbeck School, Queen Elizabeth School and Ferndown Middle School.  He also spoke to an audience of teachers and students at the Institute of Education at the University of London.  The Thomas Hardye School also held the UK premier screening of his film 'I'm Not Leaving', in front of an audience of groups who are involved in educational and development projects in Rwanda.  In preparation for International Holocaust Memorial Day 2016, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust conducted interviews with Dr and Mrs Wilkens about their experiences in 1994, leading up to and during the genocide.  Dr Wilkens final engagement in Dorset was to help launch International Women's Day at a talk to the SW Dorset Multicultural Network on the essential role of women in the reconstruction of Rwanda in the past 21 years.  Rwanda is the only country in the world that has a government of over 60% women.  Dr Wilkens also played a vital role in the Thomas Hardye School's A Level Geopolitics Study Day on the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, as well as speaking to A Level Psychology students about an array of topics.  Each and every student who heard Dr Wilkens speak was captivated and went away talking about it all.  Regarding his time at THS, Dr Carl Wilkens said "I really appreciated the questions and conversations of the Thomas Hardye students. The deeper we dug into various challenging situations of the genocide, the more I could see their genuine desire to understand "the other" and be part of a community that is committed to not only preventing genocide but also to building stronger bonds within their own local society."

THS Holocaust and Genocide Education Programme Coordinator, Kevin Matthews, said "it was both an honour and privilege to host Carl and Teresa for the week.  Their story is an inspirational one that I think all people should hear.  It is not simply a story of genocide, but a story of one families choices that ultimately led to extraordinary good being done.  Carl was just one person who stayed and his choices meant hundreds were saved.  If the international community had not abandoned Rwanda in 1994, the genocide of nearly 1 million people in 100 days could have been stopped.  Genocide doesn't have to happen, it is not an inevitable event.  I hope that by keeping the memory alive of what happened during genocides like Rwanda, people will be motivated to not stand by whilst human suffering is going on around them". 

See our Holocaust and Genocide Education Programme web pages at:


After the UK premier screening of 'I'm Not Leaving' Answering questions at the Institute of Education, University of London Being presented with a THS shield as a small token of thanks During the HMDT interview for HMD 2016 Helping to launch International Womens Day with SW Dorset Multicultural Network Signing copies of his book 'I'm Not Leaving' at THS Speaking to THS geopolitics students


March 2015