A powerful Rwandan memoir of survival and transcendence, reduced to an oddly dry little book.
In this debut memoir, Ndabaramiye, with the assistance of children’s book author Parker (My Christmas List, 2013, etc.), describes his personal experience in the Rwandan genocide and how he has rebuilt his life in the service of others like himself. In the immediate aftermath of the genocide, he was one of a busload of travelers captured by a terrorist militia. They commanded the teenage Ndabaramiye to kill his fellow prisoners with a machete. When he refused on grounds of his religion, he was forced to watch the rest of the group murdered by the militia, who then hacked off his hands and left him to be stoned to death by children. He escaped, found help and was treated by an experienced surgeon at an overwhelmed hospital. Without hands or a family able to support him, he despaired; however, through a fresh embrace of his religion, he found the will to recover. He was accepted by an American-run orphanage, and there, he learned to care for himself and to write, draw and teach. In time, he made connections that helped him co-found a community center and primary school to help other disabled people make the most of their abilities. Ndabaramiye has a solid evangelical Christian worldview, but this should not put off non-Christian readers; his resilience and dedication to the service of others is inspiring. Stories like these need no elaborate presentation, but the author’s calm, straightforward style sometimes slides into a bare-bones narrative that can obscure and distance the events, places and characters he describes. In addition, the book is marred by odd language constructions that do not serve the author’s purpose—e.g., a reference to how he and his partners “concepted a Learning Center.”
An awkwardly written but genuinely inspiring memoir of a disabled Rwandan educator.