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Oct 28, 2013 12:12 AM by Sam Salzwedel

Rwanda genocide survivor visits Tucson

TUCSON - A survivor of the Rwanda genocide in the 1990s is visiting the University of Arizona where he is thinking about enrolling.

Willie Nutabiz is now 20 years old. His twin brother and father were killed when he was a kid. His mother was disabled.

"I was like, ‘OK, no one loves me. The whole world hates me,'" he said. "‘So now I have to raise myself."

He started living on the streets when he was 8.

"You do pretty much everything to survive," Nutabiz said. "I was crying in the middle of the street. I didn't know anything. I didn't know about life."

He said he learned about stealing, doing drugs and learning to fight. He also got good at gymnastics so he could make money from tricks.

Casey Heinch met Nutabiz while studying abroad. She used to work at Gymnastics World, so she wanted to take him to a real gym.

"I figured what a better place to bring him and tumble," Heinch said. "And he's doing good. He's doing better than me."

This is his second trip to America. He volunteers with the homeless. He hopes his experience can help people across the globe.

Nutabiz hopes to talk to students about his life before leaving Tucson on November 6.

He helped filmmaker Bret Syfert make a documentary called Kigali Street Kidz, which is about life for kids like him in Rwanda.


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