Ange graduated first in her high school class, having consistently held the top position in her class throughout Secondary school.  When Ange joined the B2R Scholars Program in 2012, her English skills were weaker than most other students because she had been in a rural area, but we immediately recognized a unique spirit and spark about her.  She worked extremely hard and became one of the highest scorers in the class on the standardized exams.  Consequently, she won a full scholarship to Marist College in New York where she is currently in her Freshman year.  Below, Ange shares about some of the challenges she faced growing up in Rwanda and how she overcame those struggles to get to where she is today.  Ange has an incredibly giving heart, and she had a great passion to return to Rwanda to help her people.  We are proud to be a part of her journey!  

My mother’s character has led to my determination and made me the person I am today. In April 1994, it was the time when genocide took place in Rwanda. On the first day of the genocide, April 7th, my father was shot and killed. My mother was pregnant and I was about one year and a half old. My mother and I had to flee to the stadium in the middle of Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, where numerous people were gathered. We stayed there until the end of April, when my mother gave birth to my brother. At that time, she couldn’t find enough porridge, or anyone to support her in these hardships, yet she persisted. Many parents were separated from their children during the genocide, but she refused to leave us. For two months, she hid us and searched for food. I was too young to help her, but she did this until the end of the genocide. Her persistence played an important role in our survival, which is a great credit to her. 

After the genocide ended, my mother took us to return where we lived before. But when we arrived there, she found that a soldier had appropriated our house. She asked him to leave, and he intimidated her and said that if she continued to insist, he would kill her. Therefore, my mother took a resolution of hiding my brother and me in another place that was far from our neighborhood. After that, she went fearlessly to the soldier’s captain and reported the problem. After seeing the determination my mother had to return, the captain resolved the problem and we returned back to reside in our home. It was due to my mother’s great resolution that we were able to live there again. 

My mother was unable to attend high school, but she values education so much. She always pushed my brother and me to study, which taught us the value of education. She made it possible for us to do well at school, even if there were many hardships in our lives. We didn’t have electricity at home and we had much domestic work to do, but she borrowed a room with electricity from a neighbor so that I could study comfortably. Her motivation gave me a strong reason to work hard. We had no valuable resources and not enough land for an inheritance. But her daily and precious advice allowed me to study as hard as I could, so as to build my own inheritance. She also inspired me along the way, by how she joined a school that taught women how to make traditional jewelry. Her willingness to study, regardless of her age at that time, encouraged me to study diligently as well. Thereafter, I became eager and committed on my studies in order to achieve a better future, which is my dream. At home, my first responsibility was to study, but I had other household duties after school such as cleaning the house, fetching water and washing dishes. I managed to perform well in class and later won a scholarship to attend secondary school.

At high school, I had to alternate my classes with activities like the students’ commission, the Anti-AIDS club and others. The key to succeeding in this was respect, and my mother taught me this habit. For my mother, respect was a great thing to value. As a woman with little education, she kept in mind that for someone to be respected, she has to respect herself first. She used to tell me that respect does not come from what one has but from who she is. She was always occupied making jewelry, respected everyone and she didn’t waste her time going to the bar, as an uncommitted person would do. My mother taught me to respect myself. As a result, I tried to be exemplary at school, especially when I was in secondary. Being one of the student representatives, I respected myself and others by fulfilling my responsibilities and being punctual, as she taught me. The one tool that guided me through was the persistence I adopted from my mother.

The key to success in everything that I am involved in is the persistence, respect and determination that my mother taught me. Now that I am no longer a kid, I see that I bear fruits that my mother sowed in me since I was a child and this is the foundation of who I am and what I do. What I learned from her improved my credibility and success in life. The fact that I like to learn and do research is the result of her influence. As a Bridge2Rwanda Scholar, I have worked hard to get into a top University in the US. I respect what I do and who I am, and I respect others and their beliefs. I intend to apply all I have learned from my mother, and to share what she taught me to help bring positive changes to my community. She is more than a mother to me. She is my hero.