WE STAND TALL

BY BENIE CLAUDETTE

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Sometimes we find ourselves in embarrassing situations. It might be something we do or say, our physical appearance or something entirely out of our control. What matters most is how you deal with that situation and overcome any challenges you face. Ni Nyampinga visited girls who shared their stories about feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable in public, and how they tried their best to respond positively.

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My name is Teta from Fawe Girls School in Kayonza, and I am 14 years old. I used to feel ashamed because I’m missing one of my front teeth. I lost it when I fell down mopping at home while I was in Primary 3. The next day, when I was answering the teacher’s questions, everyone laughed. So I stopped talking, even though I was generally very outgoing and love to laugh with my friends.

My life became miserable. I was no longer laughing or speaking up in class, nor was I asking questions like I used to. I was so lucky that my friends and parents helped me to understand that staying who I am will make people get used to me, and it worked. I went on to pass the national exam with excellent grades, was admitted to this school, and I was elected to be the class monitor in Senior One!

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My name is Yvette from Minazi. I’m 16 years old. I felt ashamed because I couldn’t speak Kinyarwanda very well. I remember we were doing a sketch, and although I was pretty good at writing Kinyarwanda, my speaking was poor. This brought down my marks and meant that I was the only one in my class with poor grades and it made me sad. So, I decided to learn how to speak Kinyarwanda through a programme on Rwanda Television called “Ntibavuga Bavuga”. I started listening to the radio and reading books in Kinyarwanda as well. Afterwards, I approached every single person who made fun of me and asked them to help me pronounce the words correctly. I wrote down what they told me and would always go back to repeat them. If I hadn’t taken that initiative, I would have stopped telling jokes, which I love so much, or I would have been lonely.

They might laugh at you, but they will stop. You also need to know that it’s okay when you are not able to do something. The piece of advice that really helped me is to never be shy, worried that people will keep laughing at you. I also decided to proactively work on my Kinyarwanda. If you show people that you’re shy and you fear them, they will keep laughing at you. But if you join them, they will get used to you. On the other hand, it’s good to explain to them that making fun of you hurts and that you are learning something new that will take time.

After all the effort I invested, I delivered a speech in public at my confirmation ceremony and everyone applauded. I was so happy.

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My name is Christine from Minazi and I’m 16 years old. I used to feel ashamed because I have large breasts. I like playing soccer, but it became hard for me and I stopped running as much as possible. I even had people respond negatively or judge me because of breasts. I wasn’t ashamed because of the size of my breasts, but of how people reacted after seeing me run without a bra. It made me sad. I stopped going out to play with others. So, I talked to my parents and explained my issues, after which they gave me money to buy a bra.

Talking to my parents made a big difference, especially my mother who helped me find a solution. I went back to playing soccer and I’m happy again. Now, when I see somebody being laughed at, I talk to them about what they can do to respond positively to the situation.

Later, we had a soccer game between my class and Senior 5. I scored a goal for my class, and my classmates celebrated with me.

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