About US

World Outside My Shoes is a non-profit educational and professional development organization committed to inspiring and equipping people to enter the world of “The Other”.  “The Other” may be under our own roof or on the other side of the globe.

Our Goal:  To inspire and equip people to stand up against genocide, racism, and intolerance.

Our Values: Integrity • Dignity • Community  Simplicity • Respond-ability


About Carl Wilkens


As a humanitarian aid worker, Carl Wilkens moved his young family to Rwanda in the spring of 1990. When the genocide was launched in April 1994, Carl refused to leave, even when urged to do so by close friends, his church and the United States government. Thousands of expatriates evacuated and the United Nations pulled out most of its troops. Carl was the only American to remain in the country. Venturing out each day into streets crackling with mortars and gunfire, he worked his way through roadblocks of angry, bloodstained 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 saved the lives of hundreds.

“I can still hear very clearly the sound of hoes thwacking into the earth… the men swinging them were not gardening, they were digging up mass graves…

Take a moment to try and put yourself in the shoes of the family members and friends who had loved ones taken from them. Surviving is more than just staying alive; surviving is learning how to live again.

Carl returned to the United States in 1996. After being featured in the 2004 PBS Frontline documentary, “Ghosts of Rwanda”, about the Rwanda genocide, he began to receive letters, phone calls and offers from teachers around the country to come and share his experiences with students.

In January 2008, with no end in sight to the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan, Carl decided to quit his job and dedicate himself full time to accepting these invitations.  He and his wife Teresa have since formed an educational nonprofit, World Outside My Shoes, to facilitate this important work.

In 2011 Wilkens released his first book entitled I’m Not Leaving. It is based on tapes he made to his wife and children during the genocide. This June, a new 45-minute documentary entitled I’m Not Leaving will come out with the story of his family’s journey through one of the darkest
chapters of modern history. Concerning both the book I’m Not Leaving and in the new documentary by the same name Wilkens writes:

While these stories happened during the genocide, the book and documentary
are not really about genocide. They are more about the choices people made,
actions people took, courage people showed, and sacrifices people gave in the
face of genocide.

For nine years now, Carl and his wife Teresa have been speaking in schools on nearly every continent about their experiences in Rwanda and sharing the power of stories and service to build bridges to peace with “The Other”


NY Times article: Saying “No” to Killers

PBS Documentary: Ghosts of Rwanda

NPR Documentary: The Few Who Stayed – Defying Genocide:



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  4 Responses to “About US”

  1. […] Wilkens is the only American who stayed in Rwanda during the genocide.  You can read his biography here.  The conversation left me shaken and sad, mostly because I don’t think that I would ever […]

  2. […] Carl Wilkens, Witness to the Rwandan Genocide and Director of World Outside My Shoes  […]

  3. […] Carl Wilkens, Witness to the Rwandan Genocide and Director ofWorld Outside My Shoes  […]

  4. […] Carl Wilkens, former head of Adventist Development and Relief Agency International (ADRA) in Rwanda, will speak on Monday, April 15 at 7 p.m. in McShain Performing Arts Center at Rosemont College. Wilkens’ lecture is titled, “Ability to Respond — Eyewitness Stories from the Rwandan Genocide.” Wilkens’ books will be available for purchase and he will participate in a book signing after the event. The lecture is free and open to all and sponsored by the Institute for Ethical Leadership and Social Responsibility at Rosemont College. […]