Rwanda is a country which is located a little south from the equator. I was wondering why the genocide happened 24 years ago in this country, what happened before the genocide, and how people are living after the genocide.
I read books and saw movies about Rwanda just because I wanted to know about Rwanda and Rwandan people. There are some books and movies about Rwanda such as "Shake hands with the devil : the failure of humanity in Rwanda (Dallaire, Roméo, 2012)", "We Wish To Ingorm You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families (Gourevitch, 1998)", "Left To Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust (Immaculee Ilibagiza, 2006)", "Rwanda no Inori (Kenji Goto, 2008)", "Hotel Rwanda, (Terry George, 2004)", and "Shooting Dogs (Michael Caton-Jones, 2005)".
When my interest of Rwanda was increasing, I got to know that there are some Rwandan youth who cannot receive enough compulsory education due to lack of money for their tuition. It was 8 years ago when I heard from my friend that there is a civil organization who is supporting Rwanda kids especially secondary school students. As soon as I got this information, I contacted directly to Ms.Yuiko Watamoto, one of the representatives of Rwanda Children's Hope. She connected me to one of the kids called Sam. That time, he was 20-year-old.
Sam lives in Karangazi Secotr, Nyagatare District, East Province, in which the other Rwanda representative, Ms. Fatier Kabasinga lives as well. Sam went to the secondary school with support from his aunt.
He wanted to go to school but he couldn't go anymore because his aunt couldn't give his school fee anymore as well as he is the first son out of 7brothers and 3 sisters without his father. His family really didn't have any means of raising income. At first, I was surprised at his age because I thought that a kid to be supported in this project should be teenager. However, I decided to support him when I read his letter saying "By continuing my study, I want to be a person who can serve people". In this way, his support was started from second term of his second year of his secondary school.
He could graduate from his secondary school with high school performance. With letters from Sam and Fatier and message from Yuiko, I witnessed their passion and strong will to continue their activities no matter whatever hardship they face and I have been receiving big energy every time.
International Healing Center Ministry (IHCM), a local NGO and a main organization to manage funds from Rwanda Children's Hope in Rwanda, is daily operating and managing trauma healing activities for youth and woman who cannot go to school in spite of their will due to their financial and social situation.
Through support to IHCM and Rwanda Children's Hope, I feel closer to Rwanda and appreciate that I can support their will.
Finally, in February 2016, the day when I can visit Rwanda came.
I stayed in Rwanda for three weeks. I met first time Fatier when she came to Kigali and she brought me to Karangazi by bus. Then, I could visit Samaritan International School which accommodates nursery and primary students.
I found one of the youth who was teaching nursery students actively and supporting Rwanda Children's Hope and IHCM: that was Sam.
Sam already became 26 years old with her eyes full of kindness but inner strength.
Sam came up to me calling me "Mother!". When I looked up to him, eye drops came out from his eyes and he hugged me. I cannot express how touching it was to see him face to face. He was totally sweat since he cleaned and arranged the school materials.
I put a Japanese towel with mark of Somo wrestlers on his shoulders. In that moment, I could see again his tears and sweats which I understood his daily efforts, patience, and strong will to continue studying up to now.
Next day, I visited Sam's house with Fatier.
There were Sam, Sam's aunt, his four brothers, two sisters, and his nephew. They all greeted me warmly.
They talked to me that Sam is the first person who graduated from secondary school in their family.
His aunt held my hands many times and prayed for me with words of appreciation. "I am delighted to see Sam who became a wonderful youth thanks to you. I appreciate you".
From now, Sam wishes to be a teacher and wants to support activities of IHCM and Samaritan International School. His brothers who go now to primary school are saying that I also want to continue studying if I get a chance as my brother.
Next day, Fatier showed me classwork of nursery and primary school at Samaritan International School. In the class, I could talk with students and teachers. In nursery school, I could see Sam enthusiastically teaching Alphabet to students.
After I came back to Japan, I could find one more supporter who can donate Sam's tuition to go to East African University for three years. We are now watching over his dream which is to be a teacher and support IHCM.
I have a lot more things that I want to learn about Rwanda such as history, culture, education for peacebuilding and making community...
I would like to share and deepen my thoughts with many people through the activities of Rwanda Children's Hope.
Thank you Yuiko, Fatier, and everyone! Thank you Rwanda! See you again.