The 1990s genocides in Rwanda and Burundi still resonate among survivors of the horrific mass killings in the East African nations.
But Deo Niyizonkiza, a young medical student at the time, transformed incredible suffering into hope for his country. Niyizonkiza will tell his incredible story on Monday at USC when he delivers the second annual President’s Leadership Dialogue. The 7 p.m. lecture in Drayton Hall on the USC campus is free and open to the public.
Niyizonkiza was working in a hospital when rebels attacked, destroying the facility and killing his colleagues and friends. As violence raged, he escaped Burundi and made it to the United States, arriving with $200. Within two years he was attending Columbia University and then went on to medical school.
Since then, Niyizonkiza has established Health Works in his native Burundi, which has served more than 55,000 since 2007. Niyizonkiza is the subject of a book by Tracy Kidder called “Strength in What Remains.”
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The leadership dialogue is part of the Carolina Leadership Initiative, established by USC president Harris Pastides, which promotes leadership development on campus.