My names are Eugene UWIMANA, I am 25 years old. I will be turning 26 in June 2020. I was born in a remote village in Western Rwanda. In a poor family. As an orphan of the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi, to afford to study was a hustle that my guiding parents managed to overcome. From the first day of my educational background languages were my preferred programs. In my country, the School of Journalism and Communication is for the best students of languages from High schools. Good marks were the bridge to my dream “studying and being a journalist” in 2014, I got the chance to enter in the school of Journalism at the University of Rwanda.
At University we used to be discouraged by students in upper classes. They used to tell us that we have badly chosen because journalism career doesn’t pay in Rwanda. They were right, many media practitioners in my country don’t get paid, others get payments on the 90th day or never. For many contracts are just papers. the media owners say the industry is not profitable. However, this has never been an impediment, for me- the boy who wanted to be the voice of voiceless. For the boy who has always lived in poverty-who cannot worry about being poor.
When I was in level two at the University, I wrote ten letters to Managing Directors of different media houses. My favorable Radio station was Radio10. It is the first private radio in Rwanda. That is where I had to start from. I met the managing Director, my request was to be a volunteer in my province- eight hours drive from Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city where the station was located. She, the Manager noticed my courage and confidence and gave me the chance. She ordered her subordinate to print a card for me. Wow!!! I am a journalist (who is working for free)
I rushed to the field, yes to do what I like the most. I reported for three months, this time we were on holiday at the University. My hope was to be allowed to keep reporting in my free time when back at school. The surprise was that when I arrived at the station three months later they hired me. in 2015. From this year I held many positions: Reporter, Senior Reporter, Presidential Reporter, Radio Presenter, Tv Presenter, and Chief News Editor. I was blessed a lot to wear those hats when I was still a student. After graduation, I quit the station started to work independently as a Freelance journalist. As a freelance, I had the privilege to work with many big media houses including the Voice of America/English service, Xinhua News Agency, Rwanda Tv and many more. Throughout these past five years, I file many stories that have had very good impacts.
I think I should be considered for this award because I am young and passionate in a country where young journalists are encouraged. The award could be an encouragement for many Journalism students in my country. Without them, the fourth power cannot be stable.
I look forward to hearing from you,
Description of portfolio:
The story that I entering this competition has drawn considerable attention and impact here in Rwanda. This is the Intro of the story:
A Rwandan albino woman has appeared in a music video, attracting widespread attention and helping alleviate the stigma of albinos in Africa. Claudine Mukarusine has described the video as a spark of light in a life filled with discrimination and fear.
I reported this story from the Eastern Province of Rwanda. This is the script:
( TEXT )) Claudine Mukarusine is a 28-year-old graduate from the University of Rwanda with Albinism, a genetic condition that makes her hair, skin and eyes pale.
In parts of Africa, Albino body parts are considered to have black magic that brings luck and wealth. Their graves are dug up and bodies stolen, while the living face constant fear of abduction and murder.
But here in Rwanda, Mukarusine has become famous.
((SFX: SOUNDS OF MUSIC VIDEO))
She shows a reporter a music video by Rhythm and Blues singer James Ruhumuriza, known as King James, which she acted in. The music video, for the song called “Igitekerezo,” meaning “Ideas,” shows King James serenading Mukarusine in the city and countryside.
In Rwanda it has gone viral.
((MUKARUSINE ACT IN KINYARWANDA))
She says this video played a very big role in her life because many people have come to realize that people with Albinism can do something that is good and appreciated.
(( END ACT ))
The United Nations says nearly 100 albinos were killed in Tanzania alone in the past two decades, including at least 10 children whose bodies were found in January.
For Mukarusine, the song released in January is a spark of light in her dark days of fear that she too could be killed for being albino.
(( MUKARUSINE ACT IN KINYRWANDA))
She says on the first day she heard about this threat, she cried a whole day in class. She used to cry also in her bedroom, it strongly affected her, says Mukarusine. She used to worry so much, wondering if she is going to die. But she couldn’t share her sorrow with anyone, says Mukarusine, and it affected her studies.
(( END ACT ))
R&B singer King James says he composed the song after watching accounts of albinos being killed in Rwanda’s neighboring countries.
(( KING JAMES ACT IN ENGLISH))
“That’s when I decided, that I can feature her so that I can give a good message to people that even if they are albinos, they can do anything we can do, anything they want to do.”
(( END ACT ))
Mukarusine works as a mentor at the National Union of Disability Organizations of Rwanda. She helps three groups of 300 people learn about saving money and accessing finance.
(( MUKARUSINE ACT TWO IN KINYRWANDA))
She has hope and confidence that her future will be good, and she will have a family, says Mukarusine. She will contribute to developing the lives of people with albinism and other disabilities in general, she says, as well as her family and country.
(( END ACT ))
There are no accurate statistics on the number of albinos in Rwanda. But Mukarusine hopes her music video fame raises attention to their plight and helps remove some of the stigma and fear for other albinos as it did for her.
((Eugene Uwimana, for VOA News, Kayonza, Rwanda.))