Stories of Courage and Bravery

Courage is a word found in the English language that is often misused. Sometimes the exact meaning of the word is unknown.

Courage falls under the category of a positive characteristic that an individual possesses throughout life.

Bravery is frequently used to describe courage and it is the ability to face danger without displaying fear. It is not always easy to be brave, but there comes a time when facing danger is necessary. An individual should not be afraid to stand up for himself or defend his position when it becomes necessary.

Today, many stories of courage and bravery have been written, but more often than not, they do not deal with real life scenarios. There is one book though that deals mainly with real life stories told by the people who lived them. We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families by Philip Gourevitch is that book. It contains great numbers of stories of courage that many people possessed during a tragic period of time in Rwanda known as genocide of 1994 during which a mass extermination took place. Each story is somewhat similar in that it focuses on courage and how it is important to have it at times of crisis. In this book people stand up for their beliefs and help others even though it means putting their lives in grave danger. This can be seen through the story of the innocent students, teenage girls who have done nothing wrong, and a caring doctor named Odette who managed to stay alive.

There were many attacks taking place in Rwanda during the genocide. One of them was on the boarding school in Gisenyi. One day seventeen girls were quietly sleeping in their dorm room when they were awakened by a group of one hundred fifty militants. This group was part of the known Hutu Power. The girls were ordered to separate themselves into two groups, the Hutus from the Tutsis. The students refused to follow the given order, saying that they were all Rwandans. As a result, the girls were beaten after which they were shot to death. The Hutu girls had a choice. They could have either followed the given order or ended up dying. They chose to die instead. These girls were brave enough to stand up for their beliefs even though it did cost them their lives. That was a brave thing to do especially when one takes into account that there was an earlier attack on the school in Kibuye where sixteen girls were killed along with others being injured.

Some victims could be found in Rwanda who managed to survive the genocide. One of these people was Odette. She was a Tutsi who preferred her hair combed back in waves. This caused her great trouble. One day when she was still attending college in Cyangugu, a group of boys came in to the dining hall and in a loud voice ordered all the Tutsis to stand up. Everyone stood up including Odette. One of the boys she knew told her to sit down saying that he knew she was a Hutu. Then, another boy came in and pulling her hair said that with the kind of hair that she had, it was evident that she was a Tutsi. After that Odette was expelled from school, and was not readmitted. Luckily, she found a place in a school specializing in science and began studying medicine. The director of the new school kept Odetteā€™s name out of the enrollment books. Besides that she also hid Odette when the government inspectors came in looking for Tutsis.

Some time later when Odette was working in the Kibuye hospital, a mistake was made. A group of men were sent there with one purpose to arrest Odette, since she was an educated Tutsi. They ended up taking away the wrong person. It turned out that Odette had a colleague with the same name. Her companion was a Hutu, and she denied being Odette, but the men knew that there was only one doctor, a Tutsi by the name of Odette. That was all that they needed to know and the woman ended up being tortured and later killed.

Odette was a very brave woman. She was not afraid to go back to the school where she was in grave danger, or work toward achieving her dream of becoming a hospital doctor helping others. She managed to stay hidden from government agents and others that haunted for Tutsis. She did not give up and that was a good thing. It was not easy to get away from the Tutsi hunters, but she managed to do just that. She was even beaten with sticks by government inspectors in her dormitory, but that did not matter because she survived what seemed to be the end of her life.

Courage is a trait that not all people possess. It can prove to be significant in difficult circumstances where it is necessary to fight back or stand up for oneself. An individual without courage will have a tougher time dealing with a situation. He will need to put more effort into it. Both will succeed in the end, but very often the brave one will win the fight. He is the one that will be remembered by others as a hero and a role model. People will look up to him and hopefully will follow in his footsteps.


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Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Voted up and awesome. Thank you for sharing this incredible story of courage and bravery. Passing this on.


rauffray profile image

rauffray 4 years ago from BC, Canada

An interesting and meaningful "take" on courage. I often wonder how I would deal with such traumatic and life-altering situations. Thank you for the thought-provoking hub, Lena.

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