Jump to content

Menu

Recommended Posts

We're in mourning. We just found out middle son's future roommate at UR, a great kid from Rwanda, whose parents had been killed back in the genocide, but who survived, grew up, and was going to be a great leader for Africa, died earlier today. He drowned in a swimming pool in Kigali.

 

Editing to add that I copied his biography (short) on page 3 of this thread. It's worth reading - just to honor this young man's life. His life ended way too soon. (The biography link doesn't work on this first page, even when I try to fix it. It works later if you want to see pics, etc, otherwise, I copied the text on page 3 of this thread - if you have 10 per page.)

 

My family is literally in mourning. We had never met, but Skype and the internet brought us together and he was already my 4th son. Middle son was so excited to meet him. We had already given him a standing invitation to spend any and all vacations/holidays/meals with us.

 

Hug your kids. It could have been any of us. The world has lost a great citizen.

 

If curious, look up more of his life on Facebook (Emmanuel Ma).

 

https://www.facebook.com/RIP.Emmanuel.Reed.Manirakiza

 

 

Life is short and unpredictable, and sometimes one just has to wonder, WHY???

 

 

Edited by creekland
Pulling the link that didn't work and putting reference to the biography I cut and pasted.
Link to post
Share on other sites

He sounds like he was an incredible person. I'm sorry that the world has lost him, and your family as well. What a tragedy, and just a month before school.

 

I'd love to read the biography, but the link goes to the facebook page.

Link to post
Share on other sites
He sounds like he was an incredible person. I'm sorry that the world has lost him, and your family as well. What a tragedy, and just a month before school.

 

I'd love to read the biography, but the link goes to the facebook page.

 

I'll try again with the biography link:

 

http://bissanfreedom.wordpress.com/2012/07/15/my-friend-forgive-me-for-not-knowing-as-much-as-i-can-about-you/

 

If this one sends you to the facebook page - no clue why it actually did that - cut and paste it as that worked for me. I can't understand why this link takes you to facebook, there are some things beyond my comprehension, but cutting and pasting it works or I copied the text below.

 

The top part on that page is from his boarding school roommate in Africa - a Muslim student who was also fun to know. He posted the autobiography Emmanuel was writing. That part starts with "My Story."

 

I'm still heartbroken and in shock. I had hoped a night's sleep would help, but it didn't. The two boys (mine + Emmanuel) had great plans for school and beyond. They communicated practically daily.

Edited by creekland
Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't copy the whole thing, but here's the first part...

 

1. Introduction

My name is Emmanuel Reed Manirakiza. Like some of you do, on occasion, you can call me “Snack Master.” But not Snake Master! Today I am honored and nervous to tell you about a few things I have mastered besides snacks. You see, my life until now has been a steep uphill climb and I have had to master my own survival. Here is my story. You may know I love writing stories, and in this story the main character is a young boy named Emmanuel. Like many of you, Emmanuel has lived his life in episodes, some short and enjoyable, others long and painful! And today, I am honored to share a few of the episodes that make up his movie, Uphill Climb!

 

2. Birth and the Unknowns

Emmanuel was born one day… in nineteen ninety something, on a date and at a time that nobody now knows. For reasons that he perhaps will never comprehend no matter how hard he searches, his story is not polished with beautiful pictures of childhood and marvelous memories of his village or home town— he never had either. It is instead full of uncertainties of his childhood, inconsistent ups of his growth, and ambiguities of his future. However, it is these complexities that have made him the character he is today.

cimg4217.jpg?w=300&h=225

 

2. Passing through the furnace!

Not long after Emmanuel’s birthday, the crust of the earth opened up to drink the blood of the innocents and swallow the bodies of the blameless. Yes, the genocide started in Rwanda. Emmanuel’s uncles, cousins and aunts were murdered. His very first steps as a child were running to escape horror. Emmanuel, who was too young to distinguish a bean from millet, fled with his mother and four sisters to western Rwanda. Along the way, his sister Stephanie was lost.

Upon reaching a UN Camp in Congo, Emmanuel’s mother fell sick and died of cholera. Less than an hour later, Emmanuel’s little sister followed her mum.

Not long after that, the camp was under attack. People were murdered again; abuse and defilement overrode the camp. Emmanuel and his two remaining sisters fled into the bush of Congo. In the chaos, another of his sisters was lost. It was only Emmanuel and his eldest sister Patricia left, wandering in a world of wild savages like foxes without a den. They survived on wild fruits and water from the roots of trees. As Emmanuel’s sister squeezed roots to extract drops of water to quench his voracious thirst, Emmanuel lay with his mouth open like an eaglet waiting for an earthworm. When he told Patricia he was dying, suddenly, “PARARAPAPA!” Gun shots! Fear convulsed through his body like an electrical current. Bullets flew over their heads. They crawled into the shrubbery, protecting their eardrums with their hands from the piercing machine gun fire. After days and nights hiding in the bush, Emmanuel’s stomach was as hollow as his loneliness. At only 5 years old, time in Emmanuel’s life dragged like a flowing river without a mouth, days passed like decades and nights were endless.

Despite these tough times, Emmanuel and his sister persevered. They did not give up in despair and neither did they surrender their lives. Unlike other people who sought poison to cease their pain by killing themselves, Patricia kept on telling Emmanuel that someday the sun shall rise! It required so much courage and endurance to stay awake and hopeful. But somehow they did.

Edited by creekland
Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe I can copy the whole thing in sections...

 

4. Bitter Motherland

After years of fighting for daily survival in the bush, at age 6 Emmanuel walked with Patricia for miles and miles back to Rwanda in 1997 or 1998 where conditions seemed better but no less dangerous.

It is the pains and sorrows of then and joys of after then that he remembers so vividly. There was the joy of seeing his mother’s home village but the pain of only finding ruins and the daunting feeling that his mother’s body laid in a foreign land. It is the trials of those times which haunt him for days. Perhaps because he was old enough to distinguish a boil scar from a bullet scar! However, it is also these haunting memories that remind him time and again that he has a responsibility to fight against evil and divisionism. Such ideology caused him terror and brought tragedy that ruined his life and fellow Rwandan citizens’ life. It cannot be repeated.

Upon arriving back to Rwanda, the situation there was still chaotic and dangerous. There were rebels all over who killed looted, tortured and harassed innocent people. Emmanuel, Patricia and

two sisters who had just been found by UNICEF were no exception. They were abused in many ways, and their parents’ land was overridden and shared among those evil men. They were forced to continue living in the bush, evading the rebels who were threatening their lives.

You have heard people say, “Live each day as if it was your last day.†Those days Emmanuel did live his each day as if it was the last day of his life, not because he actually understood the message behind the saying but because it was the only thing to do! He took care of that present day and left the next day to take care of itself. And when the next day came, he did the same! Today, those who know Emmanuel know he worries not about tomorrow for he knows that tomorrow will take care of itself. You can’t reap from worrying.

5. War Ends, Opportunity Knocks

In 2001, when war had ended and conditions improved, Emmanuel was spotted by a philanthropic Anglican bishop who placed him in a school that he founded for orphans of the genocide, HIV, and war. Emmanuel was a double orphan, spending much of his early childhood living alone, surviving day to day like an animal and ultimately learning to “work the streets.†When he set foot in a classroom at age 9, Emmanuel had to learn how to socialize and speak the language. The first three months, Emmanuel had no motivation to study whatsoever. How strange it was to be around other kids!! However, when he got into the system and saw people wearing shoes and traveling in cars, he thought to himself that education was the only way out. Thereafter, he worked at the top of everything sleeping only two hours. Many people were captivated by his progress and soon his performance, aptitude and his humility helped him to succeed.

Link to post
Share on other sites

At Sonrise School, Emmanuel excelled academically and scored in the top ten for performance on the national examinations in grade six. This honor earned him a prize of 180,000 Rwandan francs, approximately $300. With this reward money, he bought a small piece of land and built a small shack on it for his sister Patricia. Patricia lived in this new home while Emmanuel was away at school, and during breaks he would sometimes come live with her. For the first time they lived in a so-called house and felt a sense of home! This is how Emmanuel’s leadership journey started, donating money he could have used to enjoy himself with his friends at school to instead make a home for his sister. Today, this same land has turned into one of the best homes on the hill!! Through a successful chicken project Emmanuel developed, he and his sister now own 5 cows, 16 sheep, and 25 goats there. Emmanuel also established small project that has lifted his sister to be able to support herself and earn honor in the village.

During the school breaks, Emmanuel developed the courage to apply for summer jobs in the city. It was difficult to get a job and he worked as a servant to demonstrate his work ethic. He served his master so well that he was hired for his first paying job – a night guard for a gas station at age 14. Emmanuel then became a sales assistant there during the next summer break and was earning more money than a primary teacher at the time could earn in months. Since then, Emmanuel worked his way in the city during his school breaks to earn money for food and clothes. He made friends who allowed him to stay in their homes, and migrated from house to house. Like a bird without a nest, he laid his head wherever he landed.

School breaks were often the most difficult times of his life as he had to fight to survive on his own. However, he managed to survive over and over, and he is still surviving and constantly dreaming of liberating his sisters, nephews, and nieces and the generations in his reach.

Link to post
Share on other sites

6. Clearing the Paths

When Emmanuel stepped into the city life, he gained the confidence to reinvent himself and to try anything and take every opportunity to make his life better. He discovered one of his passions for writing and even started publishing stories in the national newspaper! On April 7, 2009 Emmanuel moved from not just writing his words in newspapers but also delivering words himself to enter the minds of people. At age 17, he recited his first five-page Genocide poem to an audience of about 2,000 people with the aim of reconciling victims of Genocide and perpetrators. Emmanuel had already started his journey of healing to escape the emotional bondage of his past and break the chains of inferiority. He wished for others to do the same. His poem was broadcast on the national Radio. How did he do it? Hmmm! Now that is another story for another day! Or perhaps you can wait to read it in my book someday!

Regardless of Emmanuel’s childhood uncertainties, by 2009 he was one of the highly respected students in his school. He ran many school clubs in the school and did community service with an NGO called Bridge2Rwanda. He worked specifically on project Rwanda which provides youth with cargo bikes to help them generate a living for themselves. Emmanuel became a tutor and mentor and helped establish a community school.

Just imagine a boy who for many years had asked why he never got to enjoy the protection of his dad but rather learned of him only after he was stoned to death. Now that boy is mentoring other kids, working as an English teacher and mentor at a prominent orphanage in Rwanda to support others in moving beyond their obstacles that he has pushed out of his own path.

7. Lessons Learned

Emmanuel has scars on his skin and he carries bullets in his calf but he knows that these scars are ones of survival. Emmanuel survived for a reason. Perhaps to meet you!

Emmanuel understands that history has ruined his past but he refuses to live under the umbrella of its ruins. He has a destiny, a maze set out before him, and he fathoms that it is his only obligation to realize it! He is blazing a trail for himself and making a different story; he refuses to lay down his life. After all, the people who get on in this world are those who get up and change the course life has set for them. They work for the circumstances they want and if they can’t find them, they make them!

Link to post
Share on other sites

As Emmanuel wrote this story, he visited his Diary, of which he hopes someday will be published into a book or even a movie starring a most handsome actor, of course. He came across these few lines that he wrote when he almost failed to get a passport because he had no parents’ documents, birth certificates or other necessary identity paperwork. His country almost rejected him.

The lines read: “Emmanuel, do not allow yourself to fall into the trap of justifying why you can’t climb the ladder of success. You owe no one an explanation why you will not achieve your goals. Your success or failure in life largely depends on you and what you are doing with life today but not what life had done to you in the past.â€

Though you’re to look for God and others for comfort and instructions, you alone are responsible for your choices and you hold the key to your future. Do not let the world define how far you can travel and how much you can achieve. The speed by which you run is set by the speedometer of your mind.

Despite the many troubles, Emmanuel managed to get his passport – his formal identity as a citizen of Rwanda. He developed wings and set himself flying. Thanks to Patricia, Dieudonne, Anna Reed and other friends who helped him to defy the odds. On September 4, 2010, he flew to South Africa to attend the African Leadership Academy with some of the smartest young students from all over Africa. The rest is soon to become history and yet another chapter in the story of my life.

As I conclude I would like to leave you with one thought. If you don’t remember anything I say today, remember this one motto I have come up with for my life. When you face perplexing challenges, waves tossing sideways, just remember this one thing that, “Tough times make tough minds!â€

Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow. No wonder you adopted him. What an awsome example for your own priviledged children. He is the sort of person who will shape who they will become, and his loss will shape who they become, and it will be hard for that shaping to be the good sort of shaping he would want it to be, the rising-above-life's-challenges sort of shaping, not the life-is-random-so-why-try sort of shaping. How kind of him to leave something behind to help the rest of us. I am so so sorry...

Edited by Nan in Mass
Link to post
Share on other sites

According to the URochester FB page he had touched many lives already there. I'm not surprised. They're going to see about doing some sort of appropriate memorial for him at orientation since he had touched so many.

 

I'd rather he were there enjoying orientation though.

 

Jane, I agree, there are some things I'll never comprehend. This kid had such a world-changing future ahead of him. I feel privileged that we got to know him - however briefly - and I regret that we didn't get to meet in person.

 

Life can be short. Seize the day. None of us know when tomorrow won't actually be here.

 

I plan to use those final quotes of his on my wall in school this coming year when I'm teaching full time in the fall. Maybe they will inspire someone else.

 

Otherwise, sharing his story seems to be the only way I can truly try to honor the short, but great, life he had.

Link to post
Share on other sites

His Story of Emmanuel is a very useful length - long enough to be expressive but short enough to be read easily. He has his own voice. I hope this story spreads and spreads and inspires many people to lead good lives and try hard to overcome adversity, not just survive it.

 

Nan

Link to post
Share on other sites
His Story of Emmanuel is a very useful length - long enough to be expressive but short enough to be read easily. He has his own voice. I hope this story spreads and spreads and inspires many people to lead good lives and try hard to overcome adversity, not just survive it.

 

Nan

 

I am going to try to use it in school if I can do it in an inspiring way. We had talked/plans of having him be a speaker at school in the not too distant future... He would have been great. There are many students at our school who have difficulties in life and it would have been awesome for them to see they can overcome many things.

 

Middle son and other friends of his at UR and in life are hoping to complete his book - using his diary and interspersing it with short quotes from people he came in contact with. I hope they can do it - even just for closure. Sadly, in a way it will remind me of the Diary of Anne Frank.

 

We've experienced too much young death in less than a year. 5 students from school died in a car accident (no drinking, drugs, or excessive speed involved) back in Dec, another young lady from my boys youth group died in April in a weather related car accident, now this. I hate death, esp when it happens to youngsters.

Link to post
Share on other sites

That is a lot of deaths for one community to cope with. Something like that happened in my husband's school and he still talks about it. Still! The problem is that it throws the students into a state where they look at life as possibly very short, making it hard for them to make choices that are going to contribute to their future well-being rather than their immediate well-being, makes them feel that it is not worth working to make the world a better place, and making them distrust those people who try to tell them otherwise, making it hard for adults to help them. There are philosophical ways to argue against this (one reason I haven't been unhappy that my children have been exposed to Buddhism) but philosophy sounds tends to sound truly stupid and uncaring when delivered to someone young who is first grieving, even when it is logical and doesn't require a leap of faith the way Christianity does. I think you just have to hope guess you just have to hope that the young people have made that leap or accepted that logic before the bad things happen. Yikes - this got deep fast and I am totally unqualified to discuss such things. I'm just trying to acknowledge how difficult this must be for you all, share some of the problems I've seen, and let you talk about it a bit, that's all. If what I said doesn't make sense, forgive me and ignore it.

Hugs. Those are safe. I'll offer hugs. And wish they were real.

 

I hope those friends manage to put together that book. The world needs it.

 

Nan

Link to post
Share on other sites

:grouphug: I am so sorry. Dh and I read his story last night and were in awe of both the challenges that Emmanuel overcame and the amazing person he chose to become.

 

You and your son are choosing to honor Emmanuel in a special way by sharing his words and his story. Thank you so much.

 

With time, may you and your family find a level of peace and healing.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I am going to try to use it in school if I can do it in an inspiring way. We had talked/plans of having him be a speaker at school in the not too distant future... He would have been great. There are many students at our school who have difficulties in life and it would have been awesome for them to see they can overcome many things.

 

Middle son and other friends of his at UR and in life are hoping to complete his book - using his diary and interspersing it with short quotes from people he came in contact with. I hope they can do it - even just for closure. Sadly, in a way it will remind me of the Diary of Anne Frank.

 

We've experienced too much young death in less than a year. 5 students from school died in a car accident (no drinking, drugs, or excessive speed involved) back in Dec, another young lady from my boys youth group died in April in a weather related car accident, now this. I hate death, esp when it happens to youngsters.

 

My heart sank when I read this as I remembered you had experience such tragedy already. :grouphug:

 

May his memory serve to inspire others.

Link to post
Share on other sites
So sad. Crying here for the loss of such a bright light in a country so needing hope and good leaders for their future. And sad for your family's loss and grief. :(

 

 

Agreed - I was in tears reading his story. What an amazing young man. So heartbroken for your family's loss. :grouphug:

Link to post
Share on other sites
This breaks my heart. I think I will use some of his quotes in my classroom, too. I have some students who are African refugees.

 

(I didn't know you were teaching full time next year. What are you teaching?)

 

I'm just doing short term (5 - 6 weeks) full time in the fall for a maternity leave. I'll have math/science Level One kids. These are those who are taking 8th grade level for high school credit, except that now, due to NCLB, these kids have to pass regular state tests to graduate. So, we'll be doing Alg 1 and Physical Science - I provide the extra help - sort of like in school tutoring, but it's a real class in addition to their regular class. There are definite kinks to it. We're on block scheduling and some kids get the tutoring before they get the class. :glare:

 

It's going to be interesting. I'd love to use Emmanuel's life as an inspiration as many of these kids could do better (some are at their level) but are hindered by home situations and lack of caring. I just want to make sure they see the inspiration and not the "why bother" that Nan has pointed out.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...