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Episode 62: The Power of Hope with Jeanne Celestine Lakin

About Jeanne

Jeanne Celestine Lakin was orphaned by the genocide against the Tutsis, which claimed most of her family members. Nearly four years later, at age fourteen, she immigrated to the United States, learned English, and earned two degrees from Eastern Washington University. She now works as an academic adviser, and she and her husband Paul founded the charity One Million Orphans . Refusing to be silenced by the darkness that isolated her, she advocates for the disenfranchised and voiceless children of the world.

Courage Up Moment

It was when Jeanne began speaking about how she survived the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsis people. It was one of the fastest killing campaigns in our modern history. In 100 days, over one million people were killed just because they looked like Jeanne.

Maintaining a Positive Outlook

When she was able to forgive, enjoy the simple things. After the genocide, Jeanne forgot how to be, how to love. Before, she loved nature but afterwards she didn’t feel joyful with the sun, trees. In the morning, she makes a list of things she’s grateful for and that helps start her morning. She is also a strong advocate for mental health so she did see a therapist that was a tremendous help as well. She suggests finding one or two people, a trusted friend, to have someone to really share what's going on.

Courage to Share Your Story

Right after the genocide, she went to her siblings and asked them what did you go through, how did you survive, so they could give her an open window for her to share as well. None of the siblings were open to sharing. She started writing her story, maybe eventually they’ll get to a point of wanting to share, or they would want to read what Jeanne wrote. When she told her husband Paul, he shared that this writing is not just for your family, this is a story for everyone to know what happened in Rwanda.

She started speaking when she was in high school, and was overwhelmed and choking up. She told herself to continue to try, the racial reconciliation needed to be done. If she wants mutual love for one another, somebody needs to take a stand and she needs to be a catalyst.

You lived this life experience. It's no longer about you. It’s about somebody who's going to pick up this book, read how you survived and they too can achieve what they want to achieve.

It’s about who’s going to be able to hear that experience and be encouraged. Jeanne encourages us all to share, and speak up.

Adoption Story

Her twin sister told her she had to get off the streets. Jeanne was used to living in the bushes so she thought the streets were much better. Her sister told her to find a family. She started by getting her first job when she was only 10. Later, a foster family took her in. They migrated to Missouri and she came with them, however she was abused in that house. When she turned 18, she ran away to Washington State. Hope is what kept her alive that tomorrow will be better.

Final Thoughts

  1. If you’ve been hurt or been in pain, find the courage to forgive that person.

  2. To have hope. Tomorrow will get better.

  3. To find courage to speak whatever message you have to the world. Final Thoughts


From her husband: To really love who God created you to be. To embrace yourself with your scars and your wounds that most people can’t see.

Courage Song:



The Gift by Edith Eger


Connect With Jeanne

IG: @jeannecelestinelakin


Connect With Ming:

Instagram: @mingshelby

Facebook: Ming Shelby

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