The unsung heroes

Whenever the word ‘hero’ is mentioned, images of mighty, renowned, people come to mind. And this is right. A hero is characterised by their outstanding and selfless deeds.

However, there are some heroes and heroines who, unfortunately, do not get the recognition and honour they deserve.

In the little village of Muhondo in the Northern part of Rwanda, there lived a family of three; a mother and her two sons. John (not his real name), was the first born, while Peter (not real name), was the last born. Their father had been murdered in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. John had just completed the first term of senior one, and Peter was in primary four.

After the death of their dad, the clock of hope stopped ticking. Aside from struggling emotionally to pick up the pieces after the Genocide, there was another biting challenge; the sole breadwinner was gone. This means that necessities, like education, became a luxury that they could not afford.

After a couple of years, a well-wisher offered to pay school fees for John, but only for a year in a nearby boarding school. He resumed his studies at a rather advanced age. The mother was happy and anxious at the same time; what would happen after the said one year? Would she be able to bare the pain of having her two children as school dropouts for the rest of her life?

Peter, somehow, found his way back to school; after all, he was in primary school and the fee was not high.

At the end of the year, John brought home a wonderful school report; he had topped his class with an aggregate of 80 per cent. Unfortunately, the one year the Good Samaritan promised was done. The mother was sad. The younger child admired his brother’s intellect, but at the same time, pitied him. What would become of his education without the well-wisher?

Peter would stay up thinking about how to help his brother. And one day, decided he would drop out of school to go and work in the mines in order to pay for John’s school fees for the remaining period, up to senior six. He explained that his brother would find difficulty balancing work and study if he was the one working. The mother hesitantly went with the little boy’s noble idea.

Peter worked passionately. He paid his brother’s school fees until he successfully finished high school. John scored straight A’s and was offered a scholarship at a school of medicine out of the country. After this, Peter picked up from where he left.

John decided to give back the kindness and selflessness his younger brother showed him. With his studies, he secured a job and has since provided for his mother and little brother. Peter is in his second year at college. To me, this was, and is, a profound example of unsung heroism.