Rwandan Genocide Survivor Offers Sayville Students Uplifting Message
Twenty years ago, at five years of age, Daniel Trust almost died in the Rwandan genocide that took his father, mother, and several siblings. That he can talk calmly about his harrowing experiences despite those one hundred days of genocidal mass slaughter of Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Rwanda by members of the Hutu majority, as well as the abusive life he endured as a child survivor, is in itself amazing.
But the young man (his English name is Daniel Trust) who presented his story to the Sayville High School students was so full of joie de la vie, that his genuine message of hope and tolerance resonated with the Sayville students.
Sayville Social Studies teacher LynnAnn Perlin invited the Rwandan Genocide survivor to speak to select students on Human Rights Day, ending the weeklong focus on Human Rights. Daniel provided a history of the horrific events that drastically changed his life. He explained that while his mother, father, and two sisters were massacred right before his eyes, thanks to a sympathetic Hutu who hid him, Daniel lived that day.
In the aftermath, he suffered the life of an unwanted orphan, until as a refugee, he came to America with relatives, and life tremendously improved. Daniel never forgot what happened. Daily, he questioned God why he survived and if there were some purpose for his life?
His purpose became clearer the older he became. While Daniel believed God answered him through the people who supported him and helped him overcome the hardships, Daniel accepted the opportunities, especially in America, and began to find his path to fulfill his destiny: to give back by helping others.
Now a motivational speaker with a business management degree from Southern Connecticut State University, Daniel has started a The Daniel Trust Foundation, Inc. and scholarship program. According to his website: “the Foundation foster links with charitable and educational organizations that aid teens and provide resources to assist these young men and women with their educational and career needs as well as in their day-to-day lives. In addition, the foundation recognizes + rewards students and teachers who do great things for their community, contribute and support human rights, LGBT rights and promote social justice and equality for all human beings.”
During his visit to Sayville High School, Daniel obviously embodied the philosophy he espoused. His genuine enthusiasm for life and his purpose greatly impressed the Sayville students and social studies faculty who attended his lecture.
“He was incredible,” one student was heard commenting immediately after the presentation, “to be so positive after what he went through…,” and everyone agreed.
During a special luncheon that followed the lecture, Daniel intermingled in the Senior Lounge with the students and faculty for more casual conversations.