April 1994: Hacked with a machete, left for dead in a pile of bodies, then chased, imprisoned, tortured and, finally, a chance to escape! Slim odds, but better to be shot than slowly cut to pieces by genocidaires. Leading a few others and running as fast as his scarred teenage body could carry him, he found refuge deep within the Nyanza swamps.
July 1994: After endless days and nights with the cries of the Genocide of the Tutsi echoing all around, as he was on the brink of starvation and madness, Rwanda was liberated. Stick-like and frightened, but not broken, he emerged from the dark morass. A survivor.
Kizito D. Kalima was born on June 3, 1979, in Nyanza, Rwanda, to Denis and Cecilia Kalima. Kizito is the last born of ten and comes from a long family tradition of community involvement. His father was an administrator/teacher for local schools and his mother served as a health advisor to the surrounding community.
In 1994, the Kalima family was devastated by genocide. The family was separated, and many in the family, including Kizito’s parents, died.
Kizito, however, managed to survive.
Displaced by the genocide and without knowledge of surviving family members, Kizito found refuge in sports. He played basketball in surrounding African countries and was able to support himself in this manner.
In 1998, Kizito was offered the opportunity to travel to the United States to participate in a basketball tournament. Upon participating in this tournament, Kizito was scouted by many colleges in the US. Having not yet finished high school, Kizito was offered the opportunity to attend high school at Providence St. Mel High School in the Chicago area. Upon completion of high school, Kizito went on to attend Indiana University in South Bend, Indiana, graduating with a Bachelors degree in Criminal Justice in 2005.
Kizito is Founder and Executive Director of the Peace Center for Forgiveness and Reconciliation, a public speaker, and an advocate for Genocide Survivors. Kizito has spoken at a variety of events, schools, churches, and community gatherings. He recently had the pleasure of sharing his story at the United Nations Headquarters.
Kizito and his American wife have adopted two Rwandan teenage children, themselves Genocide survivors, Josiane and Liliane. The Kalima family has also recently welcomed a new daughter, Kayza Kalima, into the family.