I was born in Muhanga, one of 9 children in the family. I was 7 years old when my father was killed during the genocide conflicts of the 1990s.
We were very poor and this is what I remember most about my childhood. We were always hungry and never had enough of anything. My mother did her best and we were supported by The Fund for Neediest Survivors of Genocide in Rwanda (FARG) a programme which supports genocide survivors. Still, my strongest and most painful memory is that of hunger.
I went to school but could not concentrate. I was so hungry I did not listen or speak. I was very shy and withdrawn.
When I was 16, I was sent to boarding school. The other students made fun of me because I was so poor and had nothing. They said hurtful things and I became more lonely. Not long after I went to that school, I just stopped sleeping. I could not sleep for 6 nights one after the other. I had disturbed dreams in which the other students were laughing at me. I ran away and was told later that I was shouting as I ran.
I ran home and my family looked after me. I was able to sleep and recover. I returned to school to find the other pupils now called me the ‘mad boy’ and they said cruel things and avoided me. I did not think I was mad but the other student’s attitude to me frustrated and stressed me.
Eventually the Headmaster of that school took me to the hospital and the doctor told me I was sick. They gave me medicine but did not explain anything to me. I felt like a child and took the medicine, but it made me feel bad in a different way. I stopped taking the medicine and became ill again. It was a long time (many years) before I knew I was very ill. I felt so alone and empty. My family felt I was being stubborn. They did not believe that I could not do anything to help myself and they did not understand. I continued with school and struggled with my studies. I had 3 other serious periods of illness before I accepted that I needed to take the medicine all the time.
Then I gradually realised that at school I was drawn to Albino’s and other young people with physical and psychosocial issues as they showed kindness to me and treated me with love. I felt comfortable with them in a way I did not feel with most of the rest of the students at school or my family. I thought then that I would like to be part of an organisation of people with similar problems to me. I had a blind friend and one day I acted as his sighted guide to visit NUDOR. The people there put me in touch with Sam and I made contact with him myself. After I met him I joined the group in Gitwe.
I am more relaxed when I am with that group of people than at any other time. It has been a great thing for me. I am still studying at school and want to find a job soon. Then I want to try and help to find ways to improve the lives of others in my group, mostly by doing what we do now better and also to reach out to others like me.
I feel that I am a burden to my family and do not want this. I am not a burden to my group. The doctor has told me that I must accept my illness, the isolation and loneliness and be patient with it.