Jeanne Celestine Lakin Profile Photo

Jeanne Celestine Lakin

Keynote Speaker

Award-Winning Author; Founder, One Million Orphans

Rwandan Genocide survivor Jeanne Celestine Lakin overcame a childhood of chaos, abuse, and orphanhood. Today, she inspires audiences with her capacity for forgiveness and serves as testimony to the power of human resilience and perseverance.

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Jeanne Celestine Lakin Profile Photo

Jeanne Celestine Lakin, a compelling testament to human resilience, is an award-winning author, and an inspirational national and international speaker who provides insight and guidance to those feeling lost in life. Her goal is to help individuals break through their darkness and find their true purpose. She was recently featured in George W. Bush’s book, Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants.

Jeanne’s journey from a child survivor of the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsis to a celebrated human rights advocate has captivated and inspired thousands across the world.

At the age of nine, Jeanne was thrust into the horrors of the Rwandan genocide, fleeing violent militias with her siblings and forced to survive in the wilderness. Despite the brutality and the tragic loss of her family, she discovered a wellspring of strength within herself that ultimately led her to a path of resilience, education, and advocacy.

By the age of 14, Jeanne was studying English in an American school, grappling with the traumatic experiences from her past while striving to create a better future. In her adulthood, she not only earned a master’s degree in Public Administration and Public Policy and a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs but also became a counselor in international and domestic adoption and higher education.

Today, Jeanne has been appointed Chairwoman for the ODIHR International Survivors of Trafficking Advisory Council (ISTAC), acting as a formidable force against global human trafficking. Her contributions have influenced high-level United Nations events, furthering the cause of justice on an international stage.

Passionate about helping disadvantaged children, Jeanne established the innovative NGO, One Million Orphans, providing sustainable educational support to some of the most vulnerable children across the globe. In addition, she serves as the Manager of Disability Services for Lone Star College, advocating for inclusivity and accessibility in education.

Through her book and public speaking engagements, Jeanne offers comfort, understanding, and direction to the millions of people who are searching for a way out of their struggles. She inspires them to take action and create a better life for themselves.

Jeanne’s memoir, A Voice in the Darkness: Memoir of a Rwandan Genocide, is not just an account of her survival—it’s a beacon of hope, perseverance, and the transformative power of resilience.

Why Book Jeanne Celestine Lakin for Your Event With compassion, maturity and sincerity, Celestine Lakin takes audiences along on her personal journey of perseverance — from genocide orphan to author and orphan advocate. Her message instantly becomes an encouragement to both student groups and business audiences alike in need of the insight to overcome their own struggles. Celestine Lakin also illuminates faith-based audiences with her profound testimony of faith and forgiveness while highlighting the power of unity and the human family.

Jeanne Celestine Lakin’s Speech Topics

  • The Darkness of Genocide

    In 100 days over one million people were massacred in the Rwandan Genocide, which was planned through the methodical dehumanization of the Tutsi ethnic group. The framework and management for the killing campaign was organized by an extreme branch of the Hutu government. Celestine Lakin was a young girl, but she remembers the first signs of the genocide: ethnic segregation in school, police abruptly stopping by her home, and ominous warnings and hateful glares from neighbors. When the killing started, she was home with her nine siblings. Her father scrambled to protect his children, but the force of ethnic hatred was too strong. Every single Tutsi was marked for death.

    Celestine Lakin takes audiences through the dark 100 days of genocide and reveals exactly how she hid, what she heard, and the horrors she saw. While this presentation is heavy and at times very dark, she reveals points of triumph and inspiration that are beyond words to describe.  

  • How Labels Can Harm

    This speech is focused on propaganda and how it is used in society to assign labels to groups of people. Often, a general label obscures the truth and humanity of a person or group of people. Sometimes these labels can have negative connotations and cause the user to distance themselves from the labeled group. During the Rwandan genocide, labels were utilized to dehumanize the Tutsi Ethnic group.

    In this presentation, Celestine Lakin explains how these labels came about. How we can spot them when they are turning harmful. And what we can do to create a more inclusive atmosphere in our communities, schools, and businesses. 

  • Faith and Forgiveness

    Celestine Lakin delivers a presentation on faith and forgiveness that has changed people’s perspective for the better. Celestine Lakin’s parents were killed for something as arbitrary as their ethnic classification. In her case she witnessed the murder of her father. Later, she was beaten, raped, and set to be sold into marriage. Her home was looted, burned, and her future destroyed. She had every reason to hate the perpetrators and even the ethnic group responsible for these crimes; yet she doesn’t.

    Celestine Lakin highlights the freedom forgiveness offers. “It is a gift from God,” she says. “It is meant to free you, the oppressed, not the oppressor”. She made this realization through her Christian Faith, counseling sessions, and credits her relationship with God for exercising this freedom.

    This presentation is perfect for churches, spiritual groups, and faith-based groups. 

  • Resilience and Perseverance: Natural Human Traits

    In her speech on “Resilience and Perseverance,” Celestine Lakin highlights stories of fellow overcomers, draws parallels to her own story, and then relates that to the audience. Despite challenges that can seem daunting, she argues that the desire to overcome is a deep-seated natural human characteristic that we all have the capacity to embrace. 

Works by Jeanne Celestine Lakin


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