Gratitude to our late lovely mother!
One year ago, a sad and horrific day arrived. I was in shock and trying to understand what happened. It was on the morning of Saturday, 31st July 2021, at 6 am. I received a call, but the voice was sad and slow, asking me to be strong and calm. I thought that something bad happened. The unknown man on the other side of the line announced that my mother passed away. I was speechless and did not realize that it happened. Today we lost our hero, a loving and dedicated mother! While the last days have been painful and difficult, my mother was courageous and had faith in God and Jesus Christ, and she was devoted to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Yesterday, 12th September 2022, she would have turned 64 years old.
Born in a modest smallholder family, her earlier years as a child and growing teen were not easy. She lost her parents when she was a child and grew up in the families of her siblings. Despite the challenges of the time, she was able to enroll in primary and secondary school education. In post-colonial Rwanda, access to education was restricted – not all kids had access to basic education – My mother and her two brothers were the only ones to achieve secondary education in their entire family. While she was keen to continue her education at University, she was denied the opportunity and she started working in the late 1970s as a public servant.
Her love for learning and education motivated her to do everything in her power to ensure that her children join a good school and complete university (college). She had also extended this love to several children from our large family and beyond.
With our limited resources, our parents were keen to see us successful and education was the only way to move from poverty and achieve a lot in life. This mission was accomplished. Seeing the kids growing and completing their education was not enough, however, she was keen to go back to the university and accomplish her dream. Her extraordinary and resilient character, helped her to complete her Bachelor in Management in 2011. I remember her graduation. She was proud to walk with her peers dressed in graduation talar, hat and tassel. This moment was joyful and happier as she celebrated with her family. At that time, I was still doing my master of Science in Europe, it was a motivation to do more and I decided to enroll two years late on a PhD programme.
Unfortunately, my mother started feeling unwell back in 2013. Despite some difficult days, she kept her job and continued her religious activities. She would visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Kibeho, Mother of the World, at least four times a year. Indeed, her devotion to Our Lady of Kibeho started many years ago. Our first visit to Kibeho, as kids, with our mother dated on 15th August 1991, on Assumption Day. In 2017, four years later after visiting several doctors and clinics, she was diagnosed with chronic leukemia (Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma). It was a difficult time as she went through chemotherapy and support therapies at Butaro Cancer Centre of Excellence in Rwanda, but as the days advanced, her hemoglobin and platelets level declined, thus she had to get a blood transfusion frequently. She was able to resist some difficult moments, thanks to medical personnel and doctors at Polyclinique La Medicale, King Faisal Hospital and Kanombe Military Hospital in Kigali. Her last days were difficult as she got infected with Omicron, a variant of SARS-CoV-2. With her underlying conditions, it was hard to fight this disease. However, she kept fair and prayers. She feared to affront the last days without being surrounded by her family and friends. A few friends visited her on the last day, she was strong. We are grateful for all the medical personnel, family and friends that supported her during her convalescence time, especially my brothers that were there all the time. Parents are precious, we are lucky to have enjoyed our mother. She gave us life, nurtured us, though us good values, and loved us unconditionally. We will always pray for her! This moment was not easy for our father, but he keeps strong. A friend of mine told me “Parents are precious, losing a mother or a father is a big and tragic loss.”