My name is Theogene and I live in Kigeme refugee camp.
This is my story.
As a little boy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, I walked one kilometer to and from school to study. After school, I was responsible for taking care of the family goats.
One evening, I was returning home with the goats and I heard the sound of gunfire. Bullets whizzed by my head as people were shooting at someone behind me.
The goats were spooked and bolted home. I urgently ran to catch them.
When I neared my home, four soldiers were with my parents. They were asking for bribes and trying to recruit my father to their cause. My father responded that he could not join them, but he did pay the bribe money.
One of the soldiers saw me watching the event unfold. He told me to show him where the kitchen was. After I showed him, I left the soldier to share our food with his comrades and ran off into the woods to hide. Once the soldiers had finished eating our food, they left and I was able to return home and be with my family.
Our family moved to a different home because it was too dangerous to stay where we lived. Yet, after one week my father came home saying we must move to Rwanda because the soldiers wanted to enlist my father and uncle.
The next morning we packed our family and got on a bus heading to the border. We traveled seven kilometers until we were stopped at a checkpoint and soldiers forced everyone off the bus.
The soldiers picked through the passengers, allowing only “Hutu’s” to continue to the border. We, along with the rest of the passengers who were “Tutsi”, were sent back to our homes in Congo.
The following day we attempted to go to the border again. My father decided to stay back to take care of the cattle. We rode on two different motorcycles. I was on a motorcycle with my two little sisters and my mother and brother were on the other one.
As we traveled, a soldier stopped my motorcycle while my mother continued on ahead. The soldier said that I was too old to continue and must go back and take care of my little sisters in the Congo. I pleaded with him that I could not at 10 years old provide for my two little sisters. The soldiers kept us at the checkpoint for one hour until they finally let us go.
We met our mother and brother in the town of Sake, Congo, and kept moving until we made it to immigration at the border city of Goma. Rwandan immigration accepted our family as refugees into the country. The following day, they took us to the Nkamira refugee camp.
The UNHCR gave us two packages of maize flour, beans, salt, and oil per month to live on. We had no money to get clothes. A large warehouse building that housed over 120 families is where we stayed. Each family was allotted a small space in the warehouse.
After one month, we moved to Kigeme refugee camp. Since 2012, I lived in Kigeme camp. The first year, school at the camp did not exist. However, the following year a school was built nearby which allowed me to continue my studies.
Many people around me weren’t attending school because they were suffering from malnutrition and hunger. My family struggled to meet our basic needs. Thankfully, ADRA supported my education because my parents did not have enough money.
As I approached my tenth-grade year, I did not think I would be able to continue my studies because school only went up to the ninth grade. When I learned that Impact Hope was sponsoring students who passed their national exams, I became determined. I knew that if I was not able to continue my studies, the chances of finding a steady job would be slim.
After studying very hard, I passed my national exam! Impact Hope selected me to be sponsored for the remainder of my high school education. Since 2019, I am learning at Gahogo Adventist Academy.
Being sponsored by Impact Hope has relieved some burdens from my family, allowing them to better take care of themselves.
Impact Hope represents the foundation of my life because it has given me the opportunity to have a life and make something of myself. Sponsorship allows me to learn not only educational knowledge, but practical life skills.
You took me when I had nothing. You gave me the chance to achieve my dreams and be something. I will support myself and my family in the future because of your sponsorship.