“Amahirwe aza rimwe,” or “chance comes once,” in this story of 9-year-old Rebeka’s brave journey from Rwanda to the United States for a life-changing surgery.
Rebeka Uwitonze, raised in Bugesera, Rwanda, was born with arthrogryposis, which caused her joints to contract, resulting in curled and twisted feet. With the support of her little sister Medea, she eventually walks on the tops of her feet, but it will soon become impossible to continue upright without further intervention. Fortunately, what began simply as a school sponsorship turns into the chance of a lifetime: Co-author Davis and her husband of Austin, Texas, will host Rebeka so she can receive surgery that will enable her to walk for the rest of her life. Yet this means that Rebeka must leave her family and the country she knows for a world and language that are totally different. She writes home to Medea and keeps a small blue handkerchief stitched with her mother’s love in her home language, Kinyarwanda: “Protect me from grief. I will be your pride.” When Rebeka finally returns home after 58 hospital visits and 31 different casts, she’s able to share her new experiences and spread the bravery to her peers to confront any and all life challenges. The story is related in a tightly focused third person and incorporates substantial dialogue; Davis describes the process in concluding notes. Snapshots of Rebeka both at home and with her white host family help to document her journey.
Touching. (Biography. 8-12)