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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.



busayo's picture


I am so tourched by your story Vera and i am so happy your sister is still living. God has preserved her life because He understands her situation. The world may conderm her but God understand better. I lost my father 22 years ago, he left me all alone to fend for my full housewife mother and six siblings as the first born of the family. I quite understand what your sister went through and i know it is a great miracle that i am not living with HIV today. Be of good cheers, God is on our side.
Let me also use this opportunity to welcome you to pulsewire community, a place of love and opportunities.


Busayo Obisakin
Women inspiration Development center
Ile-Ife, Nigeria

Vera Nicimpaye's picture

Thank you!

Thank you so much Busayo for welcoming me in the community.
Thank you also for sharing your life experience.
Sounds like we had many similar life experiences. And here we are, God had made us meet somehow.
I am looking forward to working together with you, such a courageous and inspiring woman. I enjoyed reading your biography, which inspired me to next time post a little bit more about my biography so we can know each other.

With much love,

ruth_terry's picture

Hi Vera, First, let me

Hi Vera,

First, let me welcome you to the World Pulse community and thank you for sharing your story of strength and determination.

Your story was so very encouraging to me on a personal level. I have been having a difficult time lately, because I am starting my own business. We do have to fight for the things we believe in, and the to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves.

I would love to hear the rest of your story. It sounds like some time has passed: what are your dreams for the future? What are you working towards today?

Thank you again for sharing your story, and being such an inspiration to others!

"A writer’s job is to tell stories that connect readers to all the people on earth... Passionate and well-articulated ideas can and do change the world." ~~Mary Pipher

Vera Nicimpaye's picture

Thank you

Hello Ruth,

Thanks you so much for welcoming me. That is very sweet of you.
I know. Starting a new business must be challenging but I am sure you will be okay. I promise I will be remembering you in my prayers.
You are right, the story I wrote about happened many years ago. Here is the rest of the story in few words:
My sister is still alive although HIV positive and also she has a daughter who is infected. My sister seems to be doing better than her daughter, who gets sick often. Today she might go to school, tomorrow she might stay home stricken by one of the many infectious diseases that find her as an easy target.
Mom is still alive too, and she is okay. All my siblings are grownup people who can take care of themselves. 3 of them are already married. Moreover, Mom now has enough food, clothing, and everything she needs. I try to take care of her as much as I can, because although I am from Burundi, I have lived in America for 12 years now with my husband and children.
However, my story is much, much more than what I just told you. I have written my life story and am trying to publish it. I am presently looking for a reliable editor. Why do I want to share my life story? Because I want to do everything I can to contribute to the ending of the tribal hatred between Hutus and Tutsis in my country Burundi and Rwanda (our neighboring country) that caused my dad's death and that of many, many Burundians and Rwandans. it is my passion, my burning desire to share my story, and thus to initiate conversation. Men in our countries have tried, but I believe it is time for us women now to have our voices heard, to create the kind of world we want for us and for our children.
I wouldn't be here to tell you this story without sacrifices from my sister, my mom, and many other women in my community, both Hutus and Tutsis, who helped me to stay at school and saved my family for starvation. These women, as powerless as they were, changed my life. I owe it to them to speak up. And I know that if empowered, these women will change Burundi and the world in general.
I am glad I belong to this community now and hope to be inspired and given new ideas on how to reach out to others.

Thank you so much Ruth again. Good luck with your new business. By the way, have you already published some of your writings? Please let me know.

With much love,

ruth_terry's picture

So good to hear the rest of

So good to hear the rest of your wonderful story. Good luck finding an editor and publishing your book! I write articles for online magazines. Here is a link to one of my stories:

Thank you for the encouraging words, too :) Your story is a very good reminder to me that good things--like a strong business or a good memoir--take time to develop.

Stay strong!


"A writer’s job is to tell stories that connect readers to all the people on earth... Passionate and well-articulated ideas can and do change the world." ~~Mary Pipher

Vera Nicimpaye's picture

You are an amazing writer

Dear Ruth,

I read your article online. You are really an amazing writer. The story touched me too. I am glad that people like you are searching for the truth, because it is only "the truth [that] will set [us] free." Thanks for sharing, and for helping us make this world a better place for all of us through your writing. Good luck and blessings to you.

Sharese's picture


This is such a beautiful account of your sister's embodiment of the human spirit. It is amazing to me the trials and tribulations that humans can face, yet they persevere and continue to go on for themselves and those around them.

I commend your sister for being a strong woman and I commend you for this account and being brave enough to share your story.

I look forward to reading more about you, your experiences, and your journey!

Much Peace,


Vera Nicimpaye's picture

Thank you Sharese

Dear Sharese,

Thank you so much for reading my story and your encouragement. I wrote a whole book about my life story and it is my hope that one day I will be able to publish it and share it with the world. Meanwhile, I hope to stay brave enough to be able to share some more parts of it with you.

Love you,

KariScherling's picture

no one like a sister

Sisters have a powerful role in our lives. I whole heartedly appreciate your story, and could sense through your writing the awe you have for your sister. Your piece was brave and eloquent. Thank you for sharing!
best of luck!

Vera Nicimpaye's picture

Thank you so much!

Dear KariScherling,

Thank you so much for reading my story and for your world of appreciation and encouragement. That generates a lot of positive energy to keep me going.

ruth_terry's picture

Thanks Vera! Glad you enjoyed

Thanks Vera! Glad you enjoyed the article!

"A writer’s job is to tell stories that connect readers to all the people on earth... Passionate and well-articulated ideas can and do change the world." ~~Mary Pipher

Tina's picture


Wow! How wonderful for you to have someone who embodies selfless love, who touches your life so deeply in so many ways and who continually inspires you that close to your life, she is a true sister to you in every sense of the word. I am so pleased that you shared your love and appreciation for her in this story. Because now I am also inspired and touched by her life too!
Warm regards

Vera Nicimpaye's picture

Thank you!

Thank you so much dear Tina for reading my story and being inspired by it. I am glad we are here to share our stories and somehow help each other in making this world a better place for all of us.

Love and peace,


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