The face(s) of courage

Picturing Moral Courage: The Rescuers at UD

By Janell R. Ward

Photo: Rwandan rescuer Augustine Kamegeri; photo: Riccardo Gangale

Be inspired the entire month of February at the University of Dayton’s (UD) extraordinary photography exhibit, Picturing Moral Courage: The Rescuers. This event is sponsored by The Human Rights Center in coordination with PROOF: Media for Social Justice, and it will be held in the first floor gallery at the Roesch Library.

A special opening night will take place on Thursday, Feb. 5 at 7 p.m.

“We hope attendees come, circulate, and converse over the provocative photos,” Joel Pruce, assistant professor and program coordinator, said. “Dayton has played a role in global affairs before and we know the community takes world events seriously. The exhibit is an opportunity to do precisely that.”

Picturing Moral Courage: The Rescuers features photos and special speakers showcasing and discussing historical moments in war and brave actions taken to save lives.

“This project is a peace building and genocide prevention project,” Leora Kahn, executive director of PROOF, said. “It started in Rwanda and we worked in Bosnia and Cambodia after that.”

PROOF has worked in several countries including Rwanda and Bosnia to help victims of genocide. NATO and the U.S. State Department also joined as sponsors to this internationally renowned exhibition.

The University of Dayton found a kindred tie with this event as it rightfully parallels the central convictions of UD’s Human Rights Center.

“The subject matter figures in nicely with the theme for this year’s Rites. Rights. Writes. series, ‘Faith and Reason,’” Pruce said. “The exhibit features ordinary people recounting their extraordinary acts in the face of genocide and mass atrocities.”

Two of the objectives of this exhibit are to motivate young people to take action for social justice and to usher awareness about the continuous injustices that are yet overlooked.

“The exhibit’s goal is to provide role models for young people,” Kahn said, “to show that they can stand up against injustice and also serve as a reminder to people that not all people are perpetrators.”

Pruce added, “We hope that students and instructors from across the university will integrate the exhibit into their classes and we hope the broader Miami Valley community stops by to enjoy as well. We hope to bring attention to instances of mass atrocities and genocide, both historical cases and ongoing crises.”

One of the featured photographers will be Riccardo Gangale. Gangale was born in Italy where he studied political science and finished a Master’s degree in professional photography. Currently, Gangale lives in Kenya where he works for the Associated Press. One of Gengale’s featured photos will be of a man named Silas. When the Rwandan genocide took place in 1994, Silas, who was a Hutu soldier, rescued fifty Tutsis. He and another solider not only hid the Tutsis, but also snuck them across the border to Burundi during the night. They risked their lives to save other people.

Paul Lowe, an award-winning photographer, will share photos of rescuers from the Bosnian War. One of his photos is of Borovoje and Ljubinka Lelek, who hid a family from Rogatica in their home. When it became too unsafe for the Leleks to house them, they found three men to successfully lead them through Muslim territory into Sarajevo.

Other featured photographers include Nicolas Axelrod, an Australian photographer living in Southeast Asia; and Sonia Folkmann, a freelance photographer from Poland who later moved to Germany. One of Folkmann’s featured photos will be of a woman named Andree. Andree courageously saved Jewish children during the Holocaust. On one account, she rescued a child who was sitting near her in a café when it was raided by Nazi troops.

Picturing Moral Courage: The Rescuers will be open for visitors through Friday, Feb. 27 at the Roesch Library at the University of Dayton, 300 College Park. Admission is free. For hours and more information, please visit udayton.edu.

Reach DCP freelance writer Janell R. Ward at JanellRWard@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Janell R. Ward

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