All About Myself: A Young Man's Story
When I was in Rwanda late last year, one young man made a particularly strong impression on me. Christophe Bigirimana benefited from the programs of Firelight grantee partner, Oeuvre Humanitaire pour la Protection et le Développement de l’Enfant en Difficulté (OPDE), when he was a teenager and he has stayed involved with the grassroots group as a mentor to other children. Christophe is now studying linguistics at one of Rwanda’s most distinguished universities, and I was lucky enough to have his help as an interpreter during my meetings with other Fireligh grantee-partners. OPDE works with children living on the street to reintegrate them with their families. They also support children’s academic, social, and professional opportunities, opening doors for their future. Christophe was my interpreter for part of my trip, and he continues to be an interpreter for us at Firelight, and he assists by translating documents into French and Kinyarwanda.
I asked Christophe to share his personal story with others in the Firelight community. Below is the letter he sent in response. His modesty and sincerity shine through. His modesty and sincerity shine through. I hope you enjoy it.
Hello Firelight Foundation (Team),
I am Christophe Bigirimana and this is to tell you about myself. I am aged 28, single, Rwandese. I was born in a countryside, where I attended Primary School. I was compelled to stop my primary education when my parents died subsequently. My father died the first and my mother fell seriously ill to die soon afterwards.
After this sad story that befell me, I abandoned school and became a street child in Butare town for about one year. The life was so tough as I was an early teenage child and was obliged to carry luggage so as to earn livings, for myself and for my family __ my bread was just cereals that could be left behind after people unloading pickups and lorries.
During this stay, I met with Father Bruno [the OPDE founder] ministering (for that time) in Ngoma Parish, Butare town. He took me to OPDE. There, I restarted my primary studies. I finished with success and was awarded [a scholarship] to go for secondary school at Muhanga District, Southern Province. The school I attended was called Groupe Scolaire Shyogwe (GSS). At the same school, I did my ordinary and advanced levels.
As for my advanced level studies, I did Arts and Humanities. I have been able to acquire background knowledge related to Arts, since I did English, French and Swahili apart from my native language. I really proved a so brilliantly distinguished student that I was, at the end, awarded [a scholarship] to go to the National University. There, I went to the Faculty of Arts, Media and Social Sciences, Department of Modern Languages as my background was Arts. This is now my Year III (2012), with one year remaining to become a grad student.
As OPDE has been my sponsor, I have been feeling indebted to them besides being a student and having limited resources. Therefore, I have been lucky in studying at the University that has got an OPDE branch close to me. So, I decided to work as a voluntary children’s mentor after I approached the leadership and found that they were in need of such a person.
During my stay there, I got in touch with Dila Perera, from Firelight Foundation who was [visiting Firelight partners] in Rwanda. After I interpreted [for] her, she was interested in my talent and promised to be using me as a Firelight translator. I began to work with Firelight as a translator since the last two months. As I am ending up writing about myself, I shall mention that it is my pleasure to co-work with Firelight Foundation.
This is all about myself.