Saturday, 1 June 2013

Genocide survivor reunites with family after 19 years


Sebugondo (C), Akizanye (R) and Iraguha after the reunion yesterday.
His heart-warming story first came to light early this week on social networking sites; a story that Eurade Sebugondo, 23, had been reunited with his mother and sister, 19 years after the Genocide against the Tutsi.

On Thursday, Sebugondo, his mother Isabella Akizanye and sister, Iraguha Kamali could not contain their tears of joy, repeatedly hugging and sharing stories during a media conference at Nyabihu District headquarters. 

He said he had almost given up on finding his family that he last heard of on July 8, 1994 after his father, Emmanuel Kamali was killed by Interahamwe militia in Gatsata Sector in Gasabo District, Kigali.

Aged four years then, a neighbour who was fleeing to the Democratic Republic of Congo, took him along, but lost him in Jenda Sector-Nyabihu district in the Western Province. 

He was then picked up by another man, Theoneste Harelimana, who raised him as his own. 

“A car almost crashed him while he was wandering the roads and I took him with me. After trying to find his father, I decided to raise him like a young brother,” Harelimana told journalists during the reunion on Thursday.

He raised Sebugondo with his father’s help until he finished secondary school last year. Like other Genocide orphans, Sebugondo was supported by the Support Fund for Genocide Survivors.

Sebugondo also owns a plot of land given to him by Harelimana’s family. 

Although he didn’t know much about his past, he remembered atleast one name of each of his family members – his father Kamali and sisters Mimy and Aimee.

This is the information he provided to various government officials and non governmental organisations to help track down his parents, in vain.

The media also did its part but it didn’t bear fruit. 

“I heard about my family early this month (May) when I was called on phone and told my mother and one of my sisters are still alive,” he said on Thursday. “I couldn’t believe it that I never slept that night.” 

For 19 years he thought his family perished and only thought about giving them a decent burial.

When his family arrived in Nyabihu, he narrated, he immediately spotted his mother from others.

“I was convinced that she was my mother though I failed to recognise my sister,” he said, admiring an old photo of his family members before the Genocide given to him by his sister.

Family searched, found a wrong one

“After Genocide, I embarked on a search for my two children lost during the 100 dark days. After two years, I found my daughter,” Akizanye said.

She never lost hope and the search took her to Rusumo Orphanage in Eastern Province, where she found a four-year old that she took in, thinking it was Sebugondo.

He is currently studying at a technical and vocational school in the Southern Province.

“Right now, I can’t tell how happy I am now. It is like a miracle to meet my real son years after. I had given up on him after a long search but thank God this day has finally come,” Akizanye said while holding old birth certificates.

The reunion of Sebugondo- who was named after his grandfather - with his family was facilitated after he told his story to a team of people from the National Youth Council which last month visited Harelimana’s family. 

Iraguha (Mimy) said when she heard from a colleague that her brother had been found,  she didn’t believe it until she got confirmation from the National Youth Council.

Now the Council plans to meet with officials of National Commission for the fight against Genocide to establish a framework that would help others like Sebugondo, to trace their families and origin, according Alphonse Nkuranga, the Executive Secretary.


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