The following is a letter sent to Stace by Steven Shyaka (Rwandan Strongest Oak since 2010), in anticipation of Stace’s visit to Rwanda in November 2011. English translations of Kinyarwanda words are given in [square brackets]. Some deletions were made for the sake of brevity and some edits made for the sake of clarity – the sentiments remain unchanged.

Amakuru [how are you] Stace?

You can’t imagine how enthusiastic I am to meet a man who brought a light to my life and career. ... You did a big job and I specifically recognize this when we are passing our exams, while other students are being chased out due to tuition problems and so forth. ...

You can’t ... imagine how deeply the TSO team has helped me.

I am someone who once used to see the fierce lions wide-mouthed ahead of me, but now see them just as barking toothless dogs. I had no idea what a bright future means and where it would come from. Due to how we were born during horrible ethnic division and human degradation, we only knew that our parents were our God. Soon after losing them, we couldn't imagine how anyone could survive without a parent, especially a Tutsi, but today it is a different story – parents  are everywhere, even those we never met are replacing our parents and even doing better than what they could have done for us.

I am glad and happy for who I am and who I am slowly becoming as TSO is mentoring me. ... I no longer see the darkness only, in a world of both light and darkness, but today dear Stace I am gradually becoming aware of the fact that I and my sister Jeanne have survived. Many Rwandan survivors who faced the reality and bore self acceptance, like Jacqueline Murekatete and Immaculee Ilibagiza, have always insisted on one thing that I and my sister are discovering now. That is, "There is a reason why you and I have survived".

It is quite motivating when you see people in need of you, when for a long time you considered yourself as less than nothing. Whenever I am among my classmates explaining to them or discussing together, sometimes I think probably I am dreaming. Stace, you and TSO are doing a good thing for me and I am sure God had a reason as for why both my Mom and Dad left me in the swamp high and dry alone. I couldn't have thought at that time that life had a meaning or that I could be worth anything, or that I would be here today being able to tap my fingertips on the computer keyboard.

Murakoze [thank you] Stace
Amahoro y'Imana [Peace of God]

Steven

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