Rwanda: These Numbers Have Faces
“When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you’ll not talk about the joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?” ― C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces
Rwandan Scholars and Congolese Refugee Scholars are real … and they are numbers who have faces of hope. Let’s meet one of them, who lives now in Portland, OR. Their collective grief is massive, yet their individual stories are dramatic and profound.
Check out the website: http://thesenumbers.org/refugees
Jean Paul Mugisha is a scholar attending University of Portland in Oregon and studying engineering.
Jean Paul Mugisha is one of the rare students who aced the National College Entrance Exam in Rwanda. Yet, even with a 100% grade Jean Paul could not attend college; he was born in the People’s Republic of Congo, and not a native Rwandan. He lived with his family in Gihembe, one of the darkest places in the world. Gihembe is a refugee camp and home to over 17,000 people who fled the Rwandan Genocide and the subsequent civil war in Congo 18 years ago.
“My family lived in a two room, mud floor hut in Gihembe for nearly my whole life: 17 years. I am the oldest of seven children. We survived on 24 cents a day. We had no electricity, no running water, no indoor plumbing at all. Gihembe is a Congolese refugee camp in northern Rwanda,” said Jean Paul. “I love engineering and figuring out how things work,” which is why he is studying at the University of Portland. “My big vision is that one day I will bring electricity to my home village in Congo.”
“Although I did not qualify as a Rwandan citizen for the scholarship to an American university and my parents could not afford to send me to a university in Rwanda, I kept my faith alive. I started volunteering at Hope School, teaching math and sciences.” With the help of These Numbers Have Faces, twelve of the brightest students from Gihembe, including Jean Paul, were awarded scholarships to attend university in Rwanda. The whole refugee camp celebrated the college acceptance for its best and brightest students.
One year later, all twelve students are thriving in colleges across Rwanda. And as they say, “The Hope Starts Here.” The Mugisha family feels as if they won the lottery, when they were allowed to immigrate to the United States. They now live in Portland and Jean Paul is in the midst of his studies.
These Numbers Have Faces wants to expand the scholars program to hundreds of deserving students, like Jean Paul Mugisha. What can you to do help? DONATE to this worthy cause.
I found out yesterday that Leo passed away last Saturday. His obit is on the Holy Trinity Church web. Site.
Yes, Charlie, I was called by the Catholic Review for a comment on Leo’s life. A good one has slipped to the great beyond. May he rest in peace.