When l resumed lectures this year, I was what you will call an old student. I could easily identify fresh students and among them, Rebecca caught my attention.
She is from South Sudan
I felt the urge to reach out to her and become her friend. I knew how lonely I felt as a new student with no one to talk to on campus. She also made me feel there was a ‘deep story’ past her look.
When I first tried, Rebecca was cold. I didn’t give up. I tried again in the form of talking about life in school and studies in general. She is also taking the same course as I am and as fate will have it, we both took the same ‘FDR’ (research method) lectures.
Rebecca offered to drop me home one night as we left school and that was the ice breaker. She talked almost all the way. She told me she was from South Sudan and then she stopped talking.
Who doesn’t know of South Sudan?
I wondered not why she stopped talking after that, but why it still mattered so badly to her. Afterall, she had also told me she fled that country over twenty years ago when it was all still Sudan. She had equally survived her way through to France, learned french, completed her studies, gotten married, had two kids, and picked up a job with the liaison office in Paris.
But, we must not forget that the horror of a war leaves on long after it is over. And yet, although that civil war with Sudan is over and South Sudan gained its independence, Rebecca still has family there and they live through the current ‘carnage’ in their country. Some have died she says and some cousins are missing.
South Sudan is still making highlights, currently competing with Central Africa Republic, Congo Kinshasa and the others in their ‘bruteness’.
Rebecca’s Courage and survival is remarquable
In addition to all what I said about her fleeing to France and learning French, Rebecca survived an abusive marriage and soon found herself with two kids on the street. She decided to find a job in Brussels but for one whole year, she commuted from Lille to Brussels every day just to earn a living.
She met her current husband and they now have two kids. Well, it isn’t all fairy tale. Rebecca’s husband just relocated to Canada where he got a job. My friend Rebecca is raising four children, working, going to school, and trying to stay updated about her family back in South Sudan.
Rebecca says she is inspired by me
One day, Rebecca phoned me and invited me to lunch. What a pleasant surprise. We agreed to meet in the notorious Matonge area (a not so famous black neighbourhood in Brussels);
Rebecca who had earlier bought my book, told me I inspired her so much that she wanted to write her own story too. She says there is still so much to unwind from in there, but with a friend like me and her determination, she knows she will get there.
In the meantime, I am the one who finds her a strong and courageous woman. She is my heroine and I am glad I reached out to her back then.
Dear gentle readers and followers of mine, what says thou? Sharing is caring, we never know who may be touched!