Grace was an infant when the Rwandan genocide claimed her home, her village and her parents. Her grandmother, Verena, escaped with her surviving grandchildren.
“When my grandmother tells me the story of our survival, it sounds like a scene from a horror movie,” says Grace.
“She says that after my parents were killed, she sought refuge at a church in Ntarama Bugesera District. While she was hiding in the church, the militia came and set it on fire. But by God’s grace, my grandmother was able to run with me and my young brother, and we hid in a nearby swamp for days.”
After the genocide, Verena struggled to provide for her grandchildren. There were few jobs in the war-torn country, and many days she could not even feed Grace and her brother.
When Grace was 7, a Compassion center opened at an Anglican church in her community. Her grandmother enrolled her, and for the first time since the war, Verena finally felt a sense of relief.
After years of carrying the burden of her grandchildren’s survival, Verena finally had a partner in Grace’s sponsor.
“Her sponsors have taken care of her more than I would have; they have paid her school fees and medical bills and always wrote her letters of encouragement,” says Verena.
“As an orphan, the correspondence with her sponsors gave her a purpose in life. I always tell her that with the kind of love and affection she has received from me and the sponsors, she should always be exemplary to her peers and also offer the same kind of love to vulnerable people.”
As Grace grew, that kindness she learned from her grandmother, sponsor and the Compassion staff began to shape her life, and soon she decided that she wanted to become a doctor. But in Rwanda, science and medicine are fields dominated by men. But Grace had not survived only to give up. With the help of Compassion, she enrolled in medical school.