Adria Umurangamirwa, 89, a close friend of celebrated Rwandan heroine Félicité Niyitegeka who played a pivotal role in saving lives during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, has told The New Times how the latter was a remarkably kind person. ALSO READ: Heroes mausoleums 'help foster unity' The two attended the same school, in Save, in 1951, and later worked together in the diocese of Nyundo. Niyitegeka also had a charming quality of being polite and pleasant. In addition to her willingness to be fair and to forgive, her old friend also talked about her unwavering faith. ALSO READ: Felicité Niyitegeka ‘was always a heroine’ Umurangamirwa described Niyitegeka as a shining example who captured the admiration of her peers and the respect of the nuns overseeing their school. Despite being a year her junior, Umurangamirwa had the privilege of seeing Niyitegeka's noble character firsthand. Niyitegeka's reputation for exemplary conduct and caring actions were well known during high school. ALSO READ: Celebrating Félicité Niyitegeka’s life as a selfless martyr Umurangamirwa said that even during sports events, Niyitegeka maintained her poise or gracefulness, a quality that set her apart. Umurangamirwa vividly recalls her friend's creativity in ensuring her attire preserved her dignity, and the fact that her good handwriting was regarded as a standard for others to follow. After their school days, Niyitegeka and Umurangamirwa embarked on separate professional journeys within the same diocese of Nyundo, in Gisenyi, present day Rubavu District. But even then, Umurangamirwa said, despite her numerous accomplishments, Niyitegeka remained humble and approachable as a teacher, treating each student with deep respect. Umurangamirwa emphasized Niyitegeka's love for music, noting that during leisure time, she shared her musical talents, teaching others the melodies that brought her joy. During her time at Ecole Scientifique Notre Dame d'Afrique in Rubavu District, Umurangamirwa said, Niyitegeka perfomed excellently not only as a teacher but also as an accountant, showcasing her flexibility. Umurangamirwa said that in 1975, she transitioned from teaching to being the head of Centre Saint Pierre, a charitable home under Nyundo Catholic Diocese, where her warmth and hospitality shone brightly, leaving a lasting impact on the people she encountered. Reflecting on Niyitegeka's journey to become a nun, Umurangamirwa noted that the path was, initially, not clear back in high school. “However, Archbishop Aloys Bigirumwami's call to serve the nation in schools after his coronation left a lasting mark, inspiring her to pursue a life of service.” Umurangamirwa said that two years after completing her studies, Niyitegeka embraced the calling of the sisterhood, representing the values of compassion and selflessness. “Her impact extended beyond academic achievements, showing the spirit of unity and compassion,” she said. Niyitegeka's unwavering faith and generosity were known by all who knew her. “In the streets of Gisenyi, Niyitegeka's presence was a beacon of light and love, and her legacy lives on through the countless lives she touched and the hearts she warmed,” Umurangamirwa added. Born in 1934, Niyitegeka, a national heroine under the Imena category, was killed on April 21, 1994 while hosting a retreat at Centre Saint Pierre for members of Auxiliaries of the Apostolate. She was killed because of her resolute efforts in trying to save the Tutsi who sought asylum at the centre. Initially, the militia feared to raid Centre Saint Pierre, knowing that Niyitegeka had a brother who was a senior officer in the government army. Later, when her brother, Col. Alphonse Nzungize, heard of what was happening, dispatched his military escorts to his sister to warn her against trying to resist Interahamwe attacks on the centre. He warned her that she would be killed as well if she continued to shelter and protect the Tutsi. He encouraged her to abandon them and flee but she was resolute, and sent his brother’s emissaries back with a message to inform him that he should not be worried for her. The letter she sent to her brother read: “Dearest brother, Thank you for wanting to help me. I would rather die than abandoning the forty-three persons for whom I am responsible. Pray for us, that we may come to God. Say ‘goodbye’ to our old mother and our brother. When I come to God, I shall pray for you. Keep well. Thank you for thinking of me. If God saves us, as we hope, we shall see each other tomorrow. Your sister, Felicitas Niyitegeka.” Her letter was reproduced in a book, ‘Christianity and the African Imagination’, by Aylward Shorter. After her brother’s escorts left, Interahamwe militia invaded but Niyitegeka made it clear that she would rather die than see them kill the innocent people under her protection. According to the survivors, that was on April 21, 1994.