“I was intrigued by the idea of Latin in Rwanda, so I immediately got involved when I came to the school,” said Alexis Lopez ’15 who started at Latin in ninth grade in 2011.
The first group of students to participate in the Latin in Rwanda program traveled to the country in 2010. Since then, students have continued to be inspired by the program and its leader, Ingrid Dorer-Fitzpatrick, a beloved teacher at Latin for over 40 years. Lopez I was intrigued by the idea of Latin in Rwanda, so I immediately got involved when I came to the school.
Alexis Lopez '15, creator of "Kwizera"was one of those students. He traveled to Rwanda with the program in the summer of 2015, shortly after graduating from Latin.
Latin partnered with WE-ACTx, an international community-based organization that supports individuals diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, to connect with a group in Rwanda and participate in a summer camp for children and teens impacted by the disease.
Lopez was so inspired by the trip he took in 2015, that he traveled back to Rwanda with Latin’s group in the summer of 2016 after he finished his first year at Denison University. And that wasn’t his last trip to Rwanda either.
“The idea was born the first time I went to Rwanda,” Lopez said. With the help of his college advisors, Lopez spent a year and a half of his college career creating a documentary titled, “Kwizera.” The film shares the journey of Nshiyiminana Jean Claude growing up homeless and stigmatized by HIV, as well as his road to find strength through a supportive community with WE-ACTx and yoga.
The word “kwizera” in Kinyarwanda (Rwanda's local language) means hope. “It was a word that Nshiyiminana Jean Claude taught me one night when we were having dinner The word “kwizera” in Kinyarwanda (Rwanda's local language) means hope. after he used it to describe how he felt about WE-ACTx and I immediately knew that was what I wanted to call the film,” said Lopez.
Claude felt that it could be helpful for other people to hear his story and be inspired in their own lives. Lopez and Claude met during Lopez’s first trip to Rwanda and have remained friends throughout the years. During Lopez’s third time in the country, he returned as a journalist to spend two weeks filming the documentary, including hours and hours of footage of his conversation with Claude.
With the support of his college advisors, Lopez also worked to develop marketing and distribution plans for the completed film. The documentary was shown at seven film festivals all over the world, including China and Africa, and won two awards: Best Picture The film gives hope in showing the work that WE-ACTx is doing in Rwanda.
Alexis Lopez '15, creator of "Kwizera" at the Oregon Documentary Film Festival and Best Cinematography at the Georgia Documentary Film Festival.
“The film gives hope in showing the work that WE-ACTx is doing in Rwanda,” said Lopez. The organization uses the film as part of its annual fundraising efforts. This year at their virtual benefit on February 21, 2021, WE-ACTx honored Dorer-Fitzpatrick for the incredible impact she has had on the people of Rwanda.
Latin School of Chicago is pleased to share “Kwizera” by Alexis Lopez ’15.
- Our Voices