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Clemantine Wamariya

portrait of woman in dress with polka dots

Clementine Wamariya is a member of the Board of Directors at Women for Women International, where she serves as a member of the Revenue and Advancement Committee.

Clemantine Wamariya’s story is one of resilience, courage and determination amidst chaos, destruction and at times hopelessness.

Clemantine was born in Kigali, Rwanda and was only 6 years old when the Rwandan Genocide broke out. Clemantine and her older sister, Claire (then aged 15) were sent to be with their grandparents in another city in Rwanda, but the fighting followed the girls there. Clemantine and Claire were lucky to escape the massacre. During the next six years, Clemantine and Claire lived in numerous refugee camps in seven different African countries before applying to OIM relief organization that brought them to Chicago in 2000. Miraculously, the following year, Clemantine and Claire learned from friends that their parents and younger siblings were alive in Rwanda.

Clemantine’s experiences as a Rwandan Genocide survivor and former refugee have emboldened her to fight for injustice and to champion the cause of the unprivileged and disadvantaged. For the past eight years, Clemantine has shared her experiences as both a survivor of genocide and her life as a refugee at numerous speaking engagements with universities, high schools and other organizations. She has spoken at the Annual U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Luncheon, the United Nations Annual Commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Human Rights Law Conference, has been a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show four times and recently Chicago Ideas Week’s Edison Talks and TEDxYale.

Recently, Clemantine received her BA in comparative literature from Yale University. She is hoping to continue her journey as a storyteller, sharing her experiences in order to invite global dialogue and actions on various challenges that are still negatively affecting our global community. Currently, Clemantine is working on a startup that will connect top African students at US universities with international companies that will provide entrepreneurial, technological and philanthropic opportunities for them to grow and be the leaders that their countries need.