Rwandan relatives reunited at Hoxton school
PUBLISHED: 09:00 14 December 2014
A mother who fled Rwanda for Hackney after losing family in the 1994 genocide was unexpectedly reunited with a long-lost relative in a poignant event at her son’s primary school.
Chantal Kamikazi is to move back to her homeland with son Yannick this weekend, but first joined MPs from the Rwandan Parliament, along with Meg Hillier, MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, for the “touching” event at St John the Baptist School in Hoxton.
Having lost grandparents and aunts in the atrocities in her then war-torn country, Ms Kamikazi was overwhelmed to discover a long lost relative in the form of Senator Jacqueline Muhongayire when she arrived at the Crondall Street school for the visit.
“I just couldn’t believe it, she is my dad’s cousin and she comes here to this little school in Hackney,” said Ms Kamikazi who previously worked as a beauty consultant at Selfridges.
Yannick and his mother are “excited to move back home to be with their family and friends”, said Ms Kamikazi.
Ms Kamikazi, 42, of Crondall Street, moved to Hackney 15 years ago with her then partner following the genocide of ethnic Tutsis by the ruling Hutu government. Years later she gave birth to Yannick, who is now seven.
She said: “We go to Rwanda every year on holiday, but now we get to go home for good. I want Yannick to know his culture, and grow up Rwandan, being proud of his country.”
Yannick and his mother will move to their own home in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, where Ms Kamikazi plans to set up her own beauty salon.
Meg Hillier is particularly passionate about Rwanda, and visited the country last April during the 20th anniversary of the 1994 genocide.
She said: “The children were amazed to meet these high-powered Rwandan senators, who spoke French, the same language the children were learning at school. This is the beginning of a long-lasting friendship, where we would like to see a Rwandan school partnered with St John’s.”
Headteacher Alyson Tyler said: “Meg Hillier’s visit to St John the Baptist was very positive. It was fantastic to see the way our guests from Rwanda engaged with our children at St John the Baptist.
“There was a real joy about them, which given all they’ve been through was really inspiring.”
The delegation, led by Senator Tito Rutaremara, were so impressed with the level of teaching and diversity of the Crondall Street school as they observed classes and met the student council, they called it “a mini United Nations under one roof”.
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