This is the first of three cases studies of participants in the Survivors Fund (SURF) and Foundation Rwanda Youth Camp programme.
Case of J.D. A Participant in Youth Camp 2018
I am a young man, 25 years old. I was born being despised by my mother herself and her brothers. They used to harass me blaming me to be the killer’s child in such a way that I sometimes thought that my being alive was too impossible. Being alive and attending secondary education was a gift from Foundation Rwanda for me. When I was still a little child, my mother left me at my grandmother’s and went to get married. I stayed there living miserably, but I hoped that if she had other children, she would love me if I bonded with them, and doing so get out of loneliness, and extricate me from quarantine and the shame heaped on me from my maternal uncles and neighbours. But unfortunately my mother did not give birth to any other children – I am her only child. This is another psychological wound. In addition to being fathered by a killer, I have had to endure hate and harrassment from my maternal uncles and neighbours. All these have had a bad impact on me, and I was unable to study. I started to fail my lessons, even though I am not actually ignorant. I failed my lessons due to living with trauma. I used to concentrate on myself, have insomnia, be too sedate, hate life. It drove me to attempt suicide. I attempted to throw myself into the river, but I finally became too fearful and changed my mind.
The first opportunity I ever had in life was to be supported by Foundation Rwanda. It accepted to support me from Primary 4. Even though I never stopped searching for my father, hoping that he would feel pity on me and love me. But my mother and he were absent. FR filled the gap and gave me education support. I am grateful for it even if I was not able to continue to university studies. It offered me the foundation of a secondary education. When I get the opportunity – it is not too late – I will enrol at university. I now use my basic skills and earn a living. As I studied construction, I am now a part-time worker designing the plans for houses. I also cultivate and raise animals (I get my primary foodstuffs from here). I am now the chairperson of the youth fellowship of Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF Inkotanyi). I presented my candidature, and then the youth voted for me. Since then, I have started feeling that I am also a human being. Having confidence in me has shown me that I am a precious person. I got this opportunity because of FR. The conditions to give one’s candidature required completing at least secondary school education.
To participate in Youth Camp was magnificent for me because I used to have shame when I was among other people after learning about my birth. I sometimes thought that even someone who did not know me would see in me the corcumstance of my birth. But after seeing other peers who have the same background like mine, and after sharing our life experiences with each other, my heart has taken a rest and it is now clean.
I searched and searched for my father. I went to Nakivala Camp of refugees. I did not find him though. Youth Camp has helped me to have self-acceptance and feel that life goes on. I went home after making friends. I am sure that I will no longer face loneliness. When I meet challenges, I will at least have someone to call, and to talk with each other about our issues, and have a rest. To be listened to and to listen to others made me be able to understand what happened to me during my childhood and be able to understand why if I asked my mother about my birth, she used to rebuke me. I go home feeling more love for her. As she is the only parent that I have, I have decided to forgive her. Whatever she did for me was not her will. I am going to be close to her. In my opinion, I am going home hoping that I will no longer blame myself over what happened to me, and in which I had no involvement.