A Sister Not Like Others
My father passed away when I was only 7, leaving Mom with four young children. In order to feed us, Mom made my younger sister Onorine stay home to help her with house chores and laboring in the fields. She let me continue school because I was too frail to be of any use at home. Years later, I passed the national test to enter high school, but couldn’t afford the tuition.
The only solution was selling the two cows we had. With that money, I stayed in school for 2 years. The following years, we earned my school tuition by laboring in rich people’s fields. However, after my 4th year in high school, we became completely depleted from financial resources. Indeed, Mom couldn’t spend days digging anymore. Her health had considerably weakened due to extreme poverty, recurring emotional breakdowns, and abuse from my relatives. By that time, not only were we poor, but also had 9 mouths to feed, thanks especially to my dad’s cousin who promised to marry Mom, but left her with 3 more baby boys.
I then turned to my male relatives for help, as they were the ones with financial means. They turned me down. They proposed me to forget school and help Mom by working in rich people’s fields for food, like any poor and fatherless Burundi child. I was about to quit school when Onorine took a job as a nanny. With her salary, I continued school, my other siblings too. Everything seemed to go smoothly until 2 years later when her boss made her pregnant, which made her lose her job and reputation.
Fortunately, by the time Onorine lost her job, I had one more year to go, and soon became a certified elementary school teacher. Later on, she unknowingly married an HIV positive man. She has therefore been living with the virus for 22 years. All those years, I have not heard one complain from my sister’s mouth. To this day, she gives, and gives and never asks for anything in return. Whenever I call her, we talk and laugh. She ends the conversation by reminding me to stay close to God. When I hang up, I cry and cry. I don’t know why. All what I know is that my sister is a miracle, an embodiment of selfless love.