Frederic, born 1983
I was born outside of Gisenyi, in a very rural area. My family was in the middle - not rich, but not poor either. I went to primary school before the war and worked to help my family while going to school. Then during the war, I fled with my family to Goma in July. When we returned home from Goma, in September, there was nothing left. So we were very poor. Ten of us went to the Congo but only six of us returned. When we returned, I was unable to continue my studies in primary school. While I was waiting to see how I could continue my studies, another war began. It was during this second war that my hands were cut off during an ambush. After my hands were cut off, several people rescued me and took me to the hospital where I stayed for 1 year. During that time, everything changed. I was then sent to an orphanage that closed after most of the children were returned to their families. I then returned home. There life was very difficult. I was unable to wash or fetch water or do any work. It was very difficult. So I decided to return to Gisenyi to see if I could find someone to help me. It was then that I was brought to the Imbabazi Orphanage. At the first orphanage, they did everything for me. They fed me, washed me, and washed my clothes, but when I came to Imbabazi, I started to do these things for myself. It was here that I decided I wanted to be an artist. I found that when I learned how to feed myself, I could also use a pencil. One day, I drew something, and Mrs. Carr saw what I had drawn. She was so surprised and impressed that she gave me a notebook to draw in. From then on, I decided I want to be an artist.
Frederic is one of the kindest people you will ever meet. He is a leader at the orphanage, and the other kids look up to him. One of the great ironies of the whole genocide, is that Frederic is Hutu, and his hands were chopped off by Hutus trying to return to Rwanda after the genocide. The insurgents' strategy was to try and create enough terror for the general population to lose faith in the new government. Therefore, the insurgents didn't care who they maimed or killed. They simply used Frederic as an example of terror.
-- David Jiranek 2002
With the help of Charlene and Bobby Jendry, Frederic went to Columbus, Ohio in 2002 for 6 weeks where a doctor made him a prosthetic for his hands. Since he returned he has been self-supporting. He has a bicycle taxi, teaches English, and organized a Volleyball Team of handicapped boys.
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Photo by Dusingizimana