Finally, i am in the big city. Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, along with my mom, sister, and brothers. The period of time leading up to this has been a mixture of excitement and preparation, dreaming and working, hoping. Hoping for something better, putting the past behind him – the death, the history, the genocide- and living the reality.
A reality of poverty; lack of clothes, food, water, proper schooling. All in the name of protection. All in the name of surviving, but not thriving. We have arrived at our destination. I stepped out of the car and walked to the building with my mom, sister, and brothers, hand in hand with hope.
I was born in 2000 inside the Gihembe Refugee Camp in the East African country of Rwanda,I have not lived an easy life. For 16 years, I and my family toiled for our everyday necessities. I am one child out of many, and my father’s death in 2003 made life more complicated for the family.
The reason for my parents’ escape is simple, but the causes are complex and can be traced back to colonial times. The long conflict between the Tutsi and Hutu ethnic groups began when the Tutsis were favored by the Belgian colonialists. As a result, the Hutus were oppressed, and tensions grew between the two groups. Political situations in Rwanda caused for the tensions to explode, and from April to June of 1994, Hutu radicals murdered Tutsis – men, women, and children alike – and all sympathizing Hutus, resulting in 800,000 deaths.
The genocide ended in Rwanda when the Tutsis rebels re-established power in the=government. Hutus began escaping into Congo in fear of violence against them.
Tutsis were also targeted by some of the Hutus escaping from Rwanda to Congo. Entire families were wiped out and put in mass graves. An expression of the worst in humanity. And this is where my story begins. My parents were Tutsis from Congo and fled into the now more peaceful Rwanda to escape the violence. Hence, we became refugees at Gihembe Refugee camp, the place where many were born into.
Unless you have money to pay and go somewhere else, one can easily spend the rest of our life in the camp. The future was not looking bright for our family, especially with the death of their father. Thus how one complex conflict can affect a young boy, born into the aftermath. I lived in a family of six, residing in a simple structure. Every day starts out the same. Dawn breaks and chores must be done; the cleaning and cooking are waiting to be tackled and water is needed.
The water is about a mile away, so one must walk the distance, day after day, to cook, clean, and quench thirst for ourselves and the rest of the family. After the chores are complete, me and my siblings head off to school, or rather, a stick frame in the mud that houses the pupils.
Elementary education was free, but without supplies and technology, hopes of an adequate elementary education are crushed. Additionally, once 10th grade is reached, school must be paid for. Without money, and if one’s national test scores are not high enough to receive a scholarship, there is no hope of progress.
Hopeless young people join gangs, do drugs, and live lives that destroy them more than they already were due to circumstance. However, i did well, went to school, and got a scholarship to go to a teacher’s training college. I didn’t want to be a teacher, but i had no choice. As the day ends and night falls, the daylight fades into darkness. Since there is no electricity, we must create our own.
Batteries and lightbulbs give them light, providing a limited solution to their problem, thus embodying human resourcefulness in the face of hopelessness and suffering. We had no choice. Life was expensive in the camp. As a family of 6 we were given $50 dollars a month to live off of.
That equates to 25 cents per person, per day. To put that into perspective, a single bag of rice cost $25 dollars. Feeding the family was a huge task. Living in Githembe was a huge task. Day in day out, we had to live the reality of life. Dreams was not an option.
When one struggles for our daily survival, there is no hope of living anything different. At Gihembe, several families at a time would be picked to be relocated to another country. And this time, my family was among of them. Upon finding out, I felt like my entire life was going to change. And the country For my family was America.
When we got to America We met other families who we were happy to see, and we got settled in the area. Then, we started attending school while my parents worked after taking English lessons and going through the job search.
For me, school in America was a blessing. Not only is i was able to practice my English all the time, but unlike Rwanda, a quality education is always available, even if you have to pay. Now, i don’t have to be a teacher. I can be anything I wants to be.
The real struggle for me were the perspective of others . I was referred to as “you African,” and disrespected for my heavy accent.for instance where a girl was ready to break into the house to fight my sister. In America, the struggle is not so much in the everyday necessities in life, but instead, the prejudices and disrespect faced at school and in communities.
Though it is challenging, it doesn’t discourage me. I have a purpose, an opportunity, a hope. And nothing is going to stop me from fulfilling my purpose in life. I see something to be learned from the situation, and “I feel like people cannot judge people [they] do not know… because of the way I grew up, I cannot judge others…
I don’t know what they have been through… you have to talk to them first.” Although I have been through out many struggles and circumstances in my life but also gave me so much courageous in manythings. The courageous that keeps me with hope of getting into college to improve my knowledge and fulfill my dream.
Not only getting into college but also working with others around me to inspire so many students in school. So with all hopes I am looking forward to fulfil my dream and respect all learners around the school.