“If we all are honest to ourselves, we must admit that I am still alive because of this girl.”, NAME OF GRANDMA says. “I am the grandma of Fillette from her mother’s side and we live together – alone. As you see me here, I am poor, old, don’t have a husband or any other family members around me. Only God helped us to get food and clothes, only God.”
Fillette smiles at her grandmother. A milky glance from eyes going blind tries to guess where the 15-years old is sitting. Left behind, staying tall, head up, heart open.
“I have and don’t have parents at the same time.
They live elsewhere in Kigali, I never wondered where exactly – I will not search. I have found a world without and now don’t want one with these two in. After my mother got birth of me and my brother, she left us behind here. This was a big problem. We went to find the father. He did not accept us. My grandma went to court. He then accepted being the father. We wanted him to support us but he never did. Instead, when staying with him and his wife, nobody took care of us. We got mistreaten and had neither food nor shelter. My brother and me, children after all, went back here to our grandma. And with this another solution must have been found, we all knew that. To be honest, this is the saddest memory of my childhood.”
So, they decided to separate us. I of course can impossibly blame my grandmothers for doing this – it is so obvious that in any aspect our all lifes became easier. But still. A family is something else, I guess.”
“We hoped to be able bringing them to school.”, her grandma explains. “But you know, sometimes hopes come from the bottom of your heart, you raise them up and then have no other option than letting them fall and break from where they came. Maybe it was naive to believe we were able to create what you call future. But maybe this was all we could do.”
Fillette turns her head, observes a little bird in front of the door. When standing there, the whole valley is at your feet. This is a view of greatness, nature’s augustness. A view that easily makes you believe that nothing can’t be impossible. What a way to break a heart.
“When I was ten years old, I went to the cell to ask for a poverty recommendation. I took it and brought it when I was looking for a school. When reaching P3 the cell told me that the recommendation has expired – I had to leave. I then stayed at my grandma’s home, doing nothing. Luckily, I found a sponsor. Walking around in this area I saw a mum who carried many things from the market. I went to help her and brought them to her home. She asked me why I am walking around but not going to school. I told her my story. She told me to come back the next day and asked me everything about school. When I came back she paid my school. She still pays for me. I am in P5 now.”
Fillette wants to become a doctor. “Not being able to adequately help my grandma is a horrible feeling.”, she explains. “I want to be there for people, caring, giving them another chance to live.”
Her grandma smiles, old, wise, tired. “This girl is all my pride. She is all I live for. She does everything here and takes care of me - she is the one who cooks, cleans, fetches water, does the whole household. She respects me. I always pray to God for he may help her finishing school and having a good life. Surviving is a challenge. Every day, hour, moment. I wish a child never having so many responsibilities. I wish every child could have the chance to grow up in a wealthy family. I wish every child could have a future...”
Pausing, breathing, waiting. Eyes closed. Some words need to take their time.
“We survive by the grace of God. There is nowhere to find money, I am too old to work or cultivate. Many people here know me and try their best helping us. They sometimes bring money or food, the Adventist church around here financially supports us few times a year and once our cell supported us... We are beggars, the hopeless, dependant.”
“If I knew there were a chance with my parents...”, Fillette adds. But she knows better. And doesn’t want to try again. “I only use to visit my other grandma and my brother, Fils. We use to play football, pray, help and talk to each other. I like the way we are. It’s brave somehow, isn’t it? None of us has any last memory, any memory at all, when it comes to our parent’s. We can’t remember them. Can’t remember the time they left. Left us behind.”
“What I am proud of? – My grandma. Take a look on what she did. What she does. What she would do if I ever asked her...” We stand behind the house, back leaned against the wall, facing this evergreen valley. Turn and take a look. And... “My role model? It’s my grandma, of course. She teached me how to love.”