Dushimimana Eugene was born in 1994 in Kigabiro sector of Rwamagana district in the Eastern Province. He has one brother and two sisters, but there are also other children of his father (half-siblings), who he got with his first late wife, as Eugene is a child of the second wife. Eugene has lived a very unhappy life, but as a result of having an opportunity to join the Center for Champions, things have changed! Below is his story:
He commences, “After the 1994 war and genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda, my father was jailed due genocide related crimes. This caused us to live in abject poverty, with very little food and inadequate basic necessities of life. Our mother tried as much as she could, to do different casual jobs so that we could survive, but life was still very tough. We all worked on the family piece of land to get food and a surplus for sale, and this enabled us to go to school, but most of us never managed to get a high school certificate of education, as we dropped out of secondary school one by one, except for my elder brother who managed to complete Senior 6 (high school). My eldest sister dropped out in Senior 5 (level 11), I dropped out in Senior 3 (level 9) and my youngest sister dropped out in Senior 2 (level 8).
He adds, “A couple of years later, my father got released from prison. He was in a very poor health condition due to prison life. A short while after the return of my father, my mother became very sick and she eventually died. This is when my youngest sister dropped out of school. A few years later, my father too died. By this time, only two of us (my brother and I) were at home as our two sisters had already got married. My brother also found life to be tough and he decided to marry at a young age, as he did not see any other hope for his future.”
Eugene adds, “As all my siblings were already married, I remained at home alone, and still wanted to continue with school, but could not see how I would do so, as I did not have any money.”
He adds, “One Sunday morning while I was at my church, I heard an announcement that the AE Center for Champions was recruiting children and youth from very poor families who are not in school, so that they could be trained in different skills of their choice. Early the next day, I rushed to the local authorities nearby and I got to know about the entire registration process. Afterwards I went to the Centre for Champions and registered to join Vocational skills training, in the Welding Option. I could not believe myself that I was at last going back to school! I felt so happy in my heart and rejoiced a lot, thanking God for making a way out of my situation for me.”
He adds, “I happily joined the Centre for Champions and everything to me looked too good to believe it was true! At the CFC, besides training in vocational skills, we did other courses like; leadership and entrepreneurship, which increased our self-worth and confidence, and opened our eyes to the world around us, and how to carry out profitable businesses. We also had counselors who listened to our story of all the terrible things we had gone through, and gave us comfort. In addition, we had regular bible studies which enabled me to grow spiritually, as I joined the Centre when I was already a born again Christian.”
He goes on to say that, “Slowly by slowly, I learnt the welding skill, and after 1 year, I had mastered the general practical knowledge. I completed my training and was released into the work field.”
He happily adds that, “After my training, I realized that I could not start a welding workshop as I did not have any money. With my entrepreneurship knowledge, I decided to get involved in business first so that I can raise money to start a welding workshop. I sold a cow that I inherited from my family, and bought a bicycle. I used the balance to grow crops, and buy manure for them. As a result of good care for the garden, I had good garden yields and sold some of the produce, and remained with food at home. I also used my bicycle for transporting people and commodities at a fee. I opened up a savings bank account, and I kept depositing most of my earnings on it. From my earnings I managed to build a simple new house which today has a cost of 1,500,000Frw ($1750), without a bank loan. It is still incomplete, but I’m sure one day I will be able to complete it.”
Eugene further says that, “After completing my house, I will open up a personal welding workshop so as to put into practice the skills that I learnt at the CFC. I’m also planning to buy more bicycles and employ jobless young boys to ride for me, so that I can pay them, but also get a profit from the bicycles. The welding workshop and purchase of bicycles for other young people to ride will enable me to diversify my source of income.”
With a smile on his face, Eugene says that, “I’m always happy to support people, as I am what I am today because I was supported too. As of now, I have decided to allow a poor family to stay in my house, so that the members can be relieved of paying rent for some time.”
He ends his story by saying, “Mere words are not adequate for me to express my sincere gratitude to AE Rwanda and the First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue, for establishing the Center for Champions, which has enabled me to have a face lift, and hope for a better tomorrow, which I had lost. I have been holistically empowered and I’m so thankful. Right now, I’m the overall leader of the bicycle riders association in our area, because of the leadership skills that I was taught at the CFC. I strongly feel indebted to other poor youth, and I will do my level best to help as many as I’m able to, so that they too can have new Hope for a better tomorrow. Long live AE, Long Live First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue!