Clarisse Mwitegereze Umutesi
In 1992, my father joined the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) army while we stayed with our mother. She was tortured like many other Tutsis. In 1994, when the president’s plane crashed, my family was afraid and all of a sudden, there was an urgency for us to leave our home. I didn’t know what was going on and was wondering why we did not stay home and live a normal life, why I did not go to school (I was in nursery school at the time) and why we were in hiding. But I could not ask those questions.
After three months of hiding and little hope, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) won, and we came back to our house, which luckily was not destroyed. When we tried to get information about our family, we learned that our father had been killed as well as most of our family members: many aunts, uncles, and cousins. Among the few who survived were my brothers, my sister and my mother.
Life changed drastically. Our mother did her best to keep us alive. We were all sponsored to continue our studies, and I started primary school. I started secondary school at Lycee Notre Dame and finished at College Saint Andre. Outside of my studies, I liked praying, reading and watching movies.
[Aid for Africa partner] Orphans of Rwanda is now sponsoring my university studies. I enjoyed studying literature in secondary school and hope to major in interpreting at the National University of Rwanda (NUR). After graduating, I would like to have my own company of interpreters. I will help poor and vulnerable children. I would like to tell other orphans that having problems is a bridge to solutions. Keep smiling, because God loves you and He didn’t forget you.
I believe that continuing my studies, building a better life for myself and working toward my goals are the only ways I can honor the loss of my family. I thank my family and those who care about others. I also thank Orphans of Rwanda. You have inspired me to follow my dreams.”