HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

Sandra Uwiringiyimana (oo-Wee-Ring-yee-ma-na)

Women’s Rights Activist, Refugee Advocate, & Author


  • Immigration and Refugee Policy
  • Refugee Resettlement and Integration in the U.S.
  • Women and Children in Armed Conflict
  • The Power of Education
  • Mental Health in the Immigrant and Refugee Communities
  • How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child


New Jersey, New York
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Sandra Uwiringiyimana is a Women’s Rights Activist, Refugee Advocate, & Author of the memoir How Dare the Sun Rise (Katherine Tegen Books).

This profoundly moving memoir is the remarkable and inspiring true story of Sandra Uwiringiyimana, a girl from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who survived a massacre and lived to tell about it.  How Dare The Sun Rise tells a tale of survival, immigrating to America, and overcoming her trauma through art and activism. Sandra tells a story of finding her voice, a place in a new country, and her hope for the future.

Sandra did not set out to become a human rights activist. She wanted to tell the world about the injustices that led to her displacement and the death of 166 people, including her sister Deborah. Sandra began sharing her story with audiences around the country at fifteen. In 2014 Sandra addressed the United Nations Security Council on behalf of children in armed conflicts at the request of then US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power. In 2015 Sandra and other activists influenced policy that led to fifty thousand Congolese refugees resettling in North America.

In 2017 Sandra launched Jimbere Fund, a nonprofit organization that aims to revitalize distressed communities and foster peace in Congo by empowering women economically. In 2019 the Jimbere fund supported more than 160 women to start their businesses, provided milling machines for more than 12 villages, and gave land to more than 60 women widows for cultivating crops for food and selling. In May of 2019, a war broke out and forced residents to flee the area and destroyed the livelihoods the women were working to build. That war is still ongoing. Sandra and the Jimbere fund team have shifted their focus to helping people rebuild their homes. Sandra remains committed to her work in Congo despite the war and raising awareness about what is happening there.

In the US, Sandra works with schools to educate students on the issues of Resettlement and immigration, the power of education, mental health, and gender identity by using her first-hand experiences. She works with local and global organizations that aim to integrate refugees into school life, the workplace, and social activities. Sandra also currently sits on the Board at Refuge Point, an organization working to advance lasting solutions for at-risk refugees and supports the humanitarian community to do the same. She continues to use her experiences as told in How Dare the Sun Rise, to shed light on the challenges refugees face before and after resettlement that often go ignored or unnoticed.

Praise for Sandra Uwiringiyimana:

"Hosting Sandra Uwiringiyimana at Lancaster Country Day School was beneficial to our students and community members. Students chose her book for our summer reading program and Lancaster is one of the largest cities for refugee resettlement. Her visit inspired our students and brought a better understanding of the refugee experience to our community."
--Joie Formando, Lancaster Country Day School

Praise for How Dare the Sun Rise:

"This gut-wrenching, poetic memoir reminds us that no life story can be reduced to the word ‘refugee.’ Uwiringiyimana weaves the pieces of her life into a fine tapestry that evokes deep empathy, even as it provides an excellent introduction for young readers to the political and economic climate in a conflict-ridden African region.”
--New York Times Book Review

“The title is a critical piece of literature, contributing to the larger refugee narrative in a way that is complex and nuanced but still accessible for a YA audience. This poignant memoir is a must-have for teen collections.”
--School Library Journal (starred review)

“As America’s doors threaten to shut against refugees, this memoir could not be timelier. Her ability to summon the chaos and terror is extraordinary, but then, so is she. [Uwiringiyimana] has emerged as a powerful spokesperson for the plight of the dispossessed.”

“With compassion and perspicacity, Uwiringiyimana shares the journey through which she became a courageous advocate for her tribe and refugees everywhere: ‘This is my story.... I must keep telling it, until the international community proves.... that my family and all others are not disposable.’”
--Publishers Weekly

“[A] story of tragedy, terror, survival, and hope. [Uwiringiyimana] becomes a powerful voice for many who are silenced: girls, women, and immigrants everywhere, refugees in particular. This hard-hitting autobiography will have readers reeling as it shows one young woman’s challenging path to healing.”
--Kirkus Reviews

“A brave and honest story that puts a human face on the international refugee crisis-and asks us all to walk a mile in Sandra’s shoes.”
--Patricia McCormick, author of Sold and Never Fall Down

“Sandra’s life story has profound power. From Africa to America, to the world-an inspiring tale and a riveting read.”
--Joanna Coles, Chief Content Officer, Hearst Magazines

“In a world on fire, Sandra’s story of survival delivers essential truths and a message of peace and unity that speaks to us all.”
--Tina Brown, founder and CEO of Tina Brown Live Media/Women in the World

“Sandra shatters stereotypes and the myth of "other-ness" with her presentation, which touches on her experiences as a child of conflict as well as an American immigrant. From our attendees responses, it's safe to say that this was one of the most, if not THE most, moving and impactful presentations we've seen at this annual conference.”
--Sue LeBlanc, Coordinator, Madison-Oneida BOCES