Finding Hope Amid Great Loss

by Alphonsine Imaniraguha · Network Consulting Engineer · U.S.

Photo of Alphonsine
Rising Above the Storms Fundraising and Awareness event in Raleigh, NC in November 2015.

I was born and raised in Rwanda with a large family of five siblings. However, during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, I lost my parents and two of my siblings. At the age of 13, I had no choice but to become a parent to my three surviving siblings who were all under 10-years-old.

Despite these hurdles and amidst great loss, I won a full scholarship to Kigali Institute of Science & Technology in Rwanda where I earned my Bachelor's Degree in Electronics Engineering. Hope was returning and I could see a future ahead. After graduating I then won a full scholarship to Rochester Institute of Technology, NY, where after adjusting to a new country and learning English, I earned a master's degree in Telecom Engineering.

Throughout my education, I managed to financially support and raise my siblings who I proudly refer to as my children; they have all since graduated from college, which were the proudest moments of my life.

Photo of Alphonsine at her graduation.
My Bachelor's Graduation (2005), National University of Rwanda, Rwanda.

My parents were amazing, when I was a little girl I was my Dad's princess. I was encouraged to dream. My parents believed that I could be anything I wanted to. After the Genocide, however, not only did I find that no one cared about my well being, but I no longer had anyone to be proud of me. Nevertheless, I became determined to make my perished loved ones proud. I knew I had to work hard.

Due to the loss of my parents, I never had a role model while I was growing up—even though I had my younger siblings who looked up to me. I never had the chance to be young, my childhood was rushed and I was forced to grow up in a hurry. Always on my own through ups and downs, somehow by the grace of God I prevailed, and today I don't really get discouraged easily.

It doesn't matter what challenge I encounter in life, I always know that I will have the courage to overcome it. I went through so much to become who I am today, and that gives me the strength to keep going forward.

My story has a happy ending; I have ended up with my dream job. I work for a company that allows me to innovate, and who treats everyone equally while encouraging me to care for others.

I started Rising Above the Storms, a non-profit organization that promotes education and a deep love for orphans in underdeveloped areas of the world. We encourage and inspire with a message of hope to help rebuild a brighter and more positive future.

I may not be able to change the world alone, but I know that there are many people out there who might be struggling in their personal lives. I want to bring them hope. With perseverance and determination, it is possible to rise above life's challenges. Join me to change lives, one at time.

My Master's Graduation (2008), Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), NY.
My little brother Jean Eric's college graduation day in Rwanda (he has a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science & a Master's degree in Information Science).
My little sister Alice on her Master's graduation day (she holds a Bachelor's degree in Sociology and a dual Master's degree from India in Social Work & International Relations).
My little sister Mireille Noella on her college graduation day in Rwanda (she holds a Bachelor's degree in Accounting).

Related Links:


Did you know? You can share this story using the social media icons on the upper left. Use the hashtag #WeAreCisco. You can also rate or comment on the story below.

Share your thoughts on the story here!

View More Comments