I’m Not Leaving – Book


About the book:

Why did Carl Wilkens decide to remain in Rwanda in 1994, with a
genocide swirling around him?  How did he and his wife Teresa maintain
communication during the one-hundred days of terror when Tutsis were
being hounded to death by Hutu militia extremists?  How does the only
American who chose to stay—in order to protect two Tutsi household
workers–look back on that fearful time?

Working from tapes made for his family,  which chronicle daily
events from the sublime to the horrific,  Carl reconstructs in fascinating
detail both personal and political events triggered by the April 6
plane crash assassination of the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi.

He takes us through the poignant good-bye to his family, as they join the mass exodus of expatriates leaving this dangerous situation.  He affirms his presence in the neighborhood he has known for four years, by standing barefoot in the middle of the dusty road, waving farewell. 

                        — Helen Kweskin,


1. For a suggested donation of $16 we will send you 1 book

2. For a suggested donation of $40 we will send you 3 books

3. For a suggested donation of $70 we will send you 6 books

4. If you would like to  order larger quantities please email contactwoms@gmail.com for pricing discounts. 

(Outside the USA please check with Teresa for shipping cost: contactwoms@gmail.com)

 After clicking the “Donate” button to the  right you will see among other things a box marked “purpose”.  Just write “books” there.

We send the books through the postal service so be sure and include your mailing address.

We have not gone with a publisher at this point so we need your help in getting the book out and at the same time the book is serving as a fundraiser for World Outside My Shoes.

You can make your donation by check payable to World Outside My Shoes and mail it to:  5523 E. Katie Lane, Spokane Wa, 99223 or you can click on the “Donate” button higher up on the right of this page.  Among other things you will see a box marked “purpose”. Just write ” books” there.

We send out the books mostly through the postal service so be sure and include your mailing address.

We are serious about the “suggested” donation part.  If you don’t have $16, make a donation of what you can and we will send you a book.  Like I said, we want to get the word out.

Thanks so much for your support!

Carl and Teresa

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Chapter 1

Why Stay 

The white United Nations tank idled loudly outside the gates of our home as I hugged and kissed my parents and our three children—Mindy, Lisa, and Shaun–good-bye.   Holding Teresa, my wife, extra tight I whispered,  “Two weeks maximum, Love.  This thing can’t last for more than two weeks, then I’ll come see you and the kids in Burundi, and probably in three weeks it’ll be okay for you to come home. I love you!”

Taking my hand, Teresa stepped up into our pick-up camper. I slowly closed the door behind her, pushing until I heard the latch click, and then I headed down the driveway.   As I opened the gate, Colonel Luc Marchal, the commander of the Belgian troops in the UN force, emerged from the tank manhole and jumped down to my level.  While shaking his hand, I couldn’t thank him enough for escorting my family to the evacuation assembly point at the US ambassador’s home. The colonel didn’t want to leave Rwanda, this picturesque little jewel on the belly button of Africa, until he felt he had done everything possible to complete his mission of evacuating all the foreigners.

His men formed a circle around the perimeter of the tank with their rifles at the ready as our pick-up camper crept down the driveway and poked its nose out onto the dirt road.  The Belgian soldiers quickly piled back into the tank and led the way.  Less than a hundred meters down the road stood a barrier, nothing but a log that was raised up on two stones to indicate an ID checkpoint. Those manning the barrier scattered as the tank approached.  I watched Colonel Marchal once again climb out of his military machine and pitch the log aside. He could easily have driven over it, but our pick-up couldn’t.  

Dad was at the wheel, sticking to the backside of that tank like a magnet.  When they got to the intersection, the tank couldn’t make the turn in one swing. It started to roll back to make a second cut.  Dad searched for reverse as the track of the tank crushed his parking light.  At the last moment he popped the pickup camper into gear and lurched backwards.

I stood barefoot in the middle of our dusty street, waving goodbye to the most precious people in the world.  The “Armadillo” -that’s what we called our camper- waddled around the corner as I lowered my hand. Looking around, I made sure our neighbors saw that I was not leaving. If anyone had ideas about breaking into our home and going after Anitha, the young lady who worked for us, or Janvier, our young night watchman, I would be there.  I didn’t know what I would do if we were attacked, but I would be there.  Going back inside our home, I could see the fear on the faces of Anitha and Janvier. Their ID cards both had the word “Tutsi” on them,  classifying  them among Rwanda’s minority tribe.  But now it was more than simply a tribal designation – it marked them for extermination.

For Teresa and me, Anitha and Janvier put a very real face on the Tutsi people of Rwanda.  Having them physically with us in our home kept our hearts engaged in our decision for me to stay, preventing logic or fear from dominating our thoughts. It’s amazing how the physical presence of a person can change the outcome of a situation. Simply being there is often the most powerful factor in making the right decision – a decision we will not regret for the rest of our lives. 

Anitha and Janvier’s presence impacted our thinking,  keeping me in Rwanda. Now I was counting on my presence impacting the thinking of the killers, and keeping them away from us. 

Plane Crash

Four years earlier, in March 1990, Teresa and I had come to Rwanda with our three young children, ages 6, 3, and 1 at that time. I was the country director of Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA), the humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  

Dad came to Kigali in January 1994 to manage the financial side of a post-war

 clinic rehab project, and Mom had come for the last three weeks of his stay. They were both were scheduled to return home to the States in five days.

At exactly 6 p.m. on April 6, 1994, the lights went out on us at the ADRA offices in Kigali. Losing electricity  didn’t surprise me. In the light of the setting sun I called out to Mom and Dad, “Let’s call it a day and head home. If the electricity’s off here, it might be off at home, and I’m pretty sure Lisa and Shaun are alone with Anitha. Teresa was planning on taking Mindy to visit a friend at another missionary’s home.” 

The lights were on as we pulled up to the house – a good sign.  Electricity had been pretty sketchy in the evenings recently.  After dinner, everyone was busy doing his or her own thing when we heard a louder-than-normal explosion.  I say “louder-than-normal” because grenade explosions around the city had become rather commonplace. The international community had forced  “democracy” on Rwanda. Both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund had refused to support a one-party state any long. Overnight, more than a dozen political parties sprang up. The arrival of this “democracy” brought instability that expressed itself with increasing levels of petty and sometimes not-so-petty crime. Some people now acted as if they were entitled do whatever they pleased.

“That was a loud one,” Dad said.

“Yeah,” I replied.  “I wonder if it was an ammunition stockpile or something.”

We didn’t think much more about it until the phone rang twenty minutes later. Jake, a Canadian friend teaching at the Adventist University  located in the northwest corner of the country, anxiously asked, “Can you see the flames?”

“What flames?” I asked.                  

“They’re announcing on the radio that the president’s plane was shot down as it was landing!” he announced somewhat disbelievingly.

“Wow, we did hear a loud explosion.  I’ll go outside and look towards the airport.”  Hanging up the phone, I turned to my family. “The President’s plane was just shot down!”  

A stunned silence filled the room, freezing everyone in place.  The kid’s faces mirrored the question marks on the adult faces. I went outside but couldn’t see any flames glowing in the starry sky because of the hills between us and the airport five miles away. 

A few minutes later we heard the first of sporadic gunfire echo through the hills and valleys of our city. Teresa and I telephoned other missionary families to see how they were. Teresa remembers one call in particular with Betty Stanic, a volunteer from the former Yugoslavia.  Betty had been talking with some of her Belgian UN peacekeeper friends, and she ended the conversation by saying, “I’m scared.”  Her comment caught Teresa off-guard.  We had been living with this tension for so long that we did not immediately recognize how the President’s plane crash had spiked the situation to a very dangerous level.  

Still, not feeling threatened, we all went to sleep in our own beds that night, unaware of the plans that had been set in motion by the president’s assignation –  plans that would separate this tiny nation, like a single train car, from the rest of the planet and send it plunging into the most tragic one hundred days of the twentieth century.


 Posted by at 9:21 pm

  19 Responses to “I’m Not Leaving – Book”

  1. […] Without going into the details of the sermon, one point that stood out to me was the need to remember that Rwanda should not be defined by the three-month span of the genocide. Rwandan history and society is much broader and richer than this burst of horrible violence. To that end, Carl tried to bring out aspects of joy and community in the stories he told of his experiences during the genocide. You can find these stories in his new book, I’m Not Leaving.[iv] […]

  2. […] would recommend this book to anyone and everyone.  You can order a copy of it here. Brent Buttler blogs at Educational Litter. This review is republished by permission of the […]

  3. […] 2011, Wilkens released his first book entitled, I’m Not Leaving: Rwanda Through the Eyes of the Only American to Stay in Kigali During the 1994 Genocide Against […]

  4. […] 2011, Wilkens released his first book entitled, I’m Not Leaving: Rwanda Through the Eyes of the Only American to Stay in Kigali During the 1994 Genocide Against […]

  5. Hello:

    I need to order books for Carl Wilkens appearance at our museum, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center on Feb. 27. Our Education Manager, Kieli Ferguson, asked me to contact you for book terms. I need to order books for resale for the event.

    You can email me at the above email address with wholesale information. Thanks for your help.

    Barb Witschger

    Retail Merchandising Director




  6. Hi Barbara and thanks for your note!  Hope you received my email with the information!!


  7. […] I finally read his book, I’m Not Leaving (2011). It’s powerful. Very moving. It’s a testimony to the heroes he collaborated with […]

  8. Good Morning you were at Hulstrom K-8, Northglenn, CO with Klaudia Neufeld.
    She would like to order 36 of your books, she said they were $7.50 each.

    Can you please place this order and send me a receipt asap so that I can get you a check, unless you take Visa.


  9. Hi! Yes, I would be happy to get a box of 36 books to you! Thanks for the order! Will ship them out tomorrow. I assume that they should be shipped to this address: 11551 Wyco Drive
    Northglenn, CO 80233 ? Would you prefer an invoice, that I can email to you, or just a receipt after I receive the check? Thanks again, Teresa

  10. […] what he was seeing and hearing as the genocide was happening. Carl wrote his story down in his book and has retold it again and again to audiences across the world. And even though he has told […]

  11. Hi Mr. Wilkens,

    You came to my school today and talked to the 8th grade. Though you did I did not ask a question or meet you I felt that you left an impression on the way I think. You looked at the good memories even though one of them may be laced with tragedy. It just altered my out look. The events you told were not always happy but the way you told them the highlight of what you said was the good of what the people did and not the bad. I also enjoyed your scale analogy and how you took it apart and made us rethink what we had thought before. I would just like to thank you for coming to our school and I really enjoyed it.


  12. I never heard of him until I watched a 2-hour film today called GHOSTS OF RWANDA, which I believe EVERY SINGLE HIGH SCHOOL should MANDATORY show to all seniors.

    And then every college student who is going into Gov’t, International Law, Justice, etc. should have to see it, and see how pathetic the United Nations is and how corrupt, incompetent our Gov’t was under Clinton and is now under Obama. It’s sad. ISIS is worse than these guys, and spreading out all over the place.

    Christians killed all over, just for being Christian. This is happening NOW, unacceptable.

    Wilkens is amazing. I love that guy.

  13. hi carl i go to arbroath academy i love learing about the genocide it is an intresting topic you have inspired me to learn loads more about the genocide thank you so much for sharing what happened in rwanda

    yours faithfully

    dylan mcewan

  14. can i ask you how long you lived in rwanda

  15. It’s great to hear from you, Dylan! We had a great time at Arbroath yesterday and I’m really happy to hear that you’re inspired to learn more about the genocide. We can learn so much from the people who survived and have been able to somehow keep going on in their lives.

  16. Sure! We lived there for 6 years.

  17. Hello Mr. Wilkens,

    So in 7th grade you came to our school to talk about the genocide back in 2011. I also bought your book. So now that im in 10th grade we have a project about biographies and I chose yours. Just one question I would know… What advice would you give high school students today? Thanks 🙂


  18. Great to hear from you Courtney, thanks for reaching out after all these years:

    Advice??? Hmmm, a big question:)
    1. We always have a choice in each situation – it may be greatly limited but we still have a choice and we must never surrender it to another.
    2. The potential influence of foreigners should never be underestimated. (which leads to the next point.)
    3. The power of presence is something we all need to spend more time exploring and understanding, and then intentionally practicing it in positive ways
    4. Genocide is the ultimate end of “Us vs Them” thinking. WE need to tirelessly hunt and eradicate it in our own lives and in our communities. Genocide stems from thinking that says, “My world would be better without you in it” The first problem with this kind of thinking is that there is no such place as “my world” it’s a construct of our own minds. We need to change “my world” thinking to “our world” thinking. I think we can do this through stories and through shared experiences – especially shared experiences of serving.

    Again, thanks for reaching out. Please stay in touch, All the best, Carl

    PS, where is your school? Perhaps we could pass by again.
    Feel free to use our email: contactwoms@gmail.com

  19. By a miracle I found your story and talk at Ted. Wonderful.

    Carl, my name is Pastor Michael F. Clute, http://www.godslastcall.info Am now living in the Philippines.

    I have pastors I am supporting in Kenya and one of them says the Lord told him to go over Rwanda to
    teach the character of God message which you can read about at the above web site. Did you know Elder Paul C. Heubach? He is the professor at WWC who taught me GOD DOES NOT KILL from EGW Christ’s Object Lessons, page 84. I have written books on this topic since 1977. Here are some more links for you to check out. This message is going to all of Africa. Love, Pastor Mike.

    >> http://intothefathersheart.com/IFH_v3.pdf


    Email address: mclute777@aol.com

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