Finding refuge in a foreign country

Throughout her years in primary and secondary school, Nadine Uwizeyimana suffered from an identity crisis and lived desolation. She was raised by her parents in neighbouring Uganda where they had fled for safety during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. She was seven years old when she joined a school in the vicinity of Nakivale camp.
refugees at Nakivale Refugee Settlement. (Photo UNHCR)
refugees at Nakivale Refugee Settlement. (Photo UNHCR)

Throughout her years in primary and secondary school, Nadine Uwizeyimana suffered from an identity crisis and lived desolation.

She was raised by her parents in neighbouring Uganda where they had fled for safety during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. She was seven years old when she joined a school in the vicinity of Nakivale camp.

Nadine couldn’t speak any of the languages used in Uganda. That made almost every one notice she was coming from foreign land and worse still, a refugee.

She became the laughing stock in the school. Students made fun of her name, tribe, parents and country.
“I felt so small and hated myself.

They would mock me and say that we (Rwandans) were brought to their country in the belly of the fish. They would bully me and call me all sorts of horrible nicknames.
“I began to loathe my nationality.

Being Rwandan felt like a punishment, for me and there were times I wished I belonged to another tribe. I wanted to change my name, parents, tribe and my identity because of the pain and misery they had inflicted on me,” Nadine recalls.

Nadine says that she suffered ridicule throughout her secondary school as well.  However, when she joined University, Nadine said she decided that she had had enough.

“I decided never to let anyone treat me so badly just because I was a refugee,” she explained.

Just like Nadine and her family, millions of Rwandans were forced to flee to different countries across the world in search for safety, before and during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

While they re-located in search for peace and safety, often times refugees still feel insecure, isolated, tormented and ridiculed.

According to Simeon Gatsinzi, a refugee living in Uganda, life as a refugee is hard especially during election time and whenever land wrangles arise.

“The citizens by nationality always find a way of blaming you for the land being grabbed, over population and the ‘wrong’ leaders being elected.

Some will even blame you for their lack of a job claiming that you having a job is the reason that has denied them theirs,” he says.

Gatsinzi adds that back in the day, most of them (refugees) lived in fear but now the situation isn’t as bad.
He, however, notes that they feel tension during election time and other political changes in the country.

“This is when we live in fear and panic because we are usually accused for being the cause of everything that goes wrong,” he adds.

Justine Ingabire, who lives in the United Kingdom (UK) says refugees are entitled to some benefits and that is why some other people flock there (UK) under the guise of being refugees.

“They simply want to gain from these benefits,” she said.
“Quite a good number of people are still living and suffering the dilemma of being a refugee in other nations even after their own countries have stabilized,” she added.

“If for some genuine reasons you can’t return, then you are entitled to some rights that shouldn’t be abused by anyone,” she emphasizes.

However, East or west home is best, Ingabire says, adding that the best way out is to return home.
m.kaitesi@yahoo.com