Photo: © Annie Griffiths for CWS
Jean D'Amore Twagirimana (Jon Da-more Twa-GI-ree-MA-na) is twelve years old. His sisters are Clementine, five, and Claire, seven. Jean's mother, sick with AIDS, said to him, "I am dying. You must be the strong one now. Take care of your sisters. Keep this house." When his mother died, Jean was very sad, but he did what she said. He was fortunate to have help from the YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association), CWS's partner in the African country of Rwanda (Roo-AN-da).
Jean and his sisters were given a goat to provide milk and other help to grow their own food. Along with other children in the program who have lost their parents, Jean learned to decorate note cards using dried banana leaves to sell for a little extra income.
Jean keeps the family fed and safe and still manages to help a neighbor girl care for her brothers and sisters. With all his responsibilities, Jean continues to attend school, where he ranks third in his class. "The scariest time," Jean says, "is at night. Sometimes a neighbor boy comes and stays with us."
Jean's courage is inspiring. He lives the African proverb, "When a mountain is in your path, do not sit down at its foot and cry. Get up and climb it." He and many other African children are doing just that as they take over the care of their brothers and sisters.