Solange, can you share your story with us?
I was born in 2002 to both my parents. My life in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was good. We were able to grow all of our food to sustain our family.
In 2010, I lost my dad suddenly and unexpectedly. After his death, I felt like my life was at its end.
In 2012, we were displaced from the DRC because of the war. At that time, it was challenging to get to the border of Rwanda. Because it was too dangerous to travel on the road, we had to walk through the forest to protect ourselves. We traveled like this for two whole days.
Living as refugees at the Kigeme refugee camp has been a struggle every day. My mother said I would be the one to change things for the family. It is hard, but since I am the firstborn, I have to be the one to help change my family’s situation.
Impact Hope is helping me do this by supporting my education and giving me opportunities to grow.
What was your life like when you moved to the refugee camp?
Even though UNHCR gave us enough to satisfy our basic needs, we could not get clothes or materials for the house. There were not any schools in the camps at that time.
I had no hope of continuing my education.
In 2013, ADRA and the UNHCR brought schools to the refugee camp, and I started primary five. School was difficult for me because, in the DRC, we studied in French, but in Rwanda, I had to study in English. I failed primary five and had to repeat it over again.
Attending school in the camp is different than going to a regular school. I was always late because I was the one to take care of everything at home. After school, I would go straight to the kitchen to start working again.
But at Gahogo Adventist Academy, I have the freedom to learn.
I am learning many other lessons beyond the classroom. I am learning how to forgive others and how to be independent.
In 2018, I took the national examination after senior three (high school freshman). When the results were released, I found that I had done very well. I wanted to continue studying but was unable to pay for it. Then, Impact Hope came and allowed me to continue learning at Gahogo Adventist Academy.
Do you have any specific memories you want to share?
When we came from the DRC to Rwanda, we reached the border at night. I remember we had no food to eat. In the morning, my mother woke up early and left us to search for food so that she could make porridge.
When she returned, she realized that all of the belongings that we brought from the DRC were stolen. We had brought a big bag with our clothes, cooking materials, and my mom’s identity card.
I had no idea how we would get anything back. Thankfully, the UNHCR gave us items to help us.
When Impact Hope selected you, how did you feel?
I felt happy because I felt like I could now reach my goals. Gahogo gives me an environment to study without interruption.
I saw Impact Hope as a kind and loving family. Today it is hard to find someone willing to support you without knowing you. I feel like God sent my sponsor.