My Influential Person

By Solange Niyobuhungiro

We all have that one person who a day cannot pass without thinking or talking to them. This is because of the positive impacts this person brings in our lives. This person is always there for us no matter how awkward our situation is and always willing to talk. In simple words I call this person my 911.

My influential person is my father. He owns a huge space in my heart that no one can ever take away. You might ask yourself does this woman have a boyfriend or husband? The answer is yes, but this husband has his own space too. My father is that kind of a person who sees potential in a person where other people cannot. He believes that everyone is capable of doing anything as long as they put effort on it despite their situation. And I have grown to witness this. I have lived in a refugee camp my whole life and I have seen people do wonders despite the limitations imposed on them. Let us talk about the business sector or education sector, and you will see refugees putting efforts to make things happen. You will see them rising to the point that you wonder how they manage to do so.

This man has the spirit of helping other people with the little he has. When I was little, I used to think he was wasting the little he has on people who will not even remember or help him in the future. I have seen him help many families that just arrived in the camp by giving them beans, flour and clothes. Some used to come back to thank him later when life gets better for them, and some never came back, but to him giving is better than receiving. Seeing this when growing up, it has given me the same heart my father has. Myself, I believe in doing well and walking away. I believe it is only God who will reward me. And of course, I have reached places, places I would not otherwise reach, but because of my father’s name I have been there. Once people see me, they are like, that is the daughter to the man who helped me when I just arrived in the camp, please welcome her. 

Have you ever reached a stage where you are stranded and you do not know whom to talk to? I have been there so many times and I was always afraid of telling my friends about it in fear of being judged, and some used to turn people’s situation into a community discussion which I hated. For this reason, I always have an emergency number to call and talk to, and this is my father. His number is always available. When I call him, he hangs up and calls back, this is his one way of saving my voucher. He always lends me his ears, comforts me and directs me on how to handle my situation.

For example, in 2018, I encountered a situation whereby I was heartbroken by my longtime boyfriend and I really wanted someone to talk to.  I was very confused and afraid of telling my friends about my situation, and all I could do was cry. I knew my friends would bring the “I told you” Statements and that is not what I wanted to hear that time. I wanted some comforting statements, something that would make me feel alive again since the pain I had was too much for me to bear. While in confusion of whom to tell and whom not to, I remembered I had my 911 always willing to hear me out. I called as I always do. However, this time around his phone was just ringing, there was no one to answer. Tears were rolling down my cheeks uncontrollably. I called for the second time, and fortunately, he picked up. I requested not to be hung up. Below is the conversation we had.

Father: Hello? Are you okay?

Me: Hello, Dad. Yes, I am okay.

Father: You are lying to me; with your tone you sound like you have been crying. Is everything okay?

Me: To be honest, Dad, I am not okay…. (crying)

Father: Come on; tell me what is bothering you. You have all my attention. (While on the line, he talks to another person, saying to them ‘I will talk to you later. I have an emergency to handle’.)

Me: Excuse me. (Very surprised)

Father: No, No. I was not talking to you Angella. We were working on something with your cousin, so I was talking to him about it.

Me: Okay

Father: Now all my ears are yours, please. Tell me what is bothering you. You have all my attention.

Me: (silent for some seconds)

Me: Aaaaah….aaa…Yes, Dad, I have something bothering me and I do not know the right words to use…

Father interrupts before I finished, and we talked at the same time

Father: Just use any wor…..  Me: But I will..

Father: You can go first.

Me: Okay. I was saying. I am in a lot of pain right now. The kind of pain that I am failing to endure, Dad. I know that sometimes it feels awkward when I bring to you my useless issues. However, trust me it is different this time around. I just needed someone to tell me the right words and I knew it would be you. Always you…. (crying)

Father: Always.

Me: Father! I am very sure; you know that person I have been dating. I am also sure you know how long we have been together.

Father: 2 if not 3 years

Me: 3 years. (Sighing). He has decided to break up with me. I know it might sound normal, but you cannot believe what his reason was. He said he is no longer interested in me. He has many things to do and I am just as another load put on him. These words sucks… they hurt, Dad (crying).

Father: I get it, my daughter, they indeed cause so much pain in you. However, I pray that you endure the pain. I know right now the pain is so much, but as days pass, you will heal and all the pain will go away.

Me: Dad, this is just too much pain for me… (crying) What will my friends say when they know that we are no longer together, what about my colleagues at church, Dad? Ahhh? What will they say, Dad?…. (Still crying)

Father: Let me give you a piece of advice, my daughter, I know that is why you called. You need comfort and advice, right? You know very well that I am not physically present to comfort you, but know that I understand you and know that it hurts. I cannot know the weight of the pain you are feeling but just know that we are in this together. I am ready to do all what it takes as a father to help you pass through this season until you heal. I already knew that the first thing you would be concerned with is how other people will see you after all this time. However, not all what people sees matters, my daughter. What matters is what you see in yourself right now and how you want to make that thing your turning point in life. This season to you is negative, people will talk about you questioning why all that happened, but the best thing for you is to be positive. Do not look at the people as your enemies no, they are just people questioning in human nature.

Me: Yes, Dad, I understand you.

Father: On the side of your ex-boyfriend. First, I would say he is an honest man. After he saw he has a lot on his plate he has decided to let you go, which is better than him keeping lying to you. Every time the truth is better than a lie. I know the truth hurts but it is always good. As you keep growing, you will live to witness that. I did not like the words he used saying you were a burden for him. I cannot judge on that since as human beings we have different measures, maybe with his that is what you were to him. However, do not be disturbed by what happened in the past, instead look forward. I assure you my daughter in this life, you will meet your soulmate. The person who will never turn your flaws into an excuse, rather one who will always push you to become the better person. By that time, you will not even be able to remember all this, all your pain will be gone. We always pass through hard times to get the best things we need. You will come to learn that life is kind of unfair since it does not provide people with what they need easily.

Me: (nodding my head in a way that I am convinced)

Father: All I can ask you is to take care of yourself. Learn to love yourself, be a strong woman and focus on things that bring positive spirit in you. Not every time things happen, you lose hope in life sometimes you just need to be strong. Above all, always pray to God, ask him to give you serenity to accept things that you cannot change in your life and power to change that you can change. Ask him to give you a forgiving heart and loving heart, and you will live long.

Me: Thank you very much, Dad. I have loved the conservation we have had. I have learned a lot from it.

Father: You are welcome. I will always be there for you as long as I am alive.

Me: Alright Dad, bye

Father: Bye.

With such conversations with my father, I have vowed to myself that I would rather be depressed than talking to other people besides my father. Even my siblings know that there are situations in my life they can never hear from me. They know that my 911 is always there for me. My siblings always call me “Dad’s daughter” due to the bond we have. However, I thank God that my dad does not choose among his children who is his favorite or who is not. When we are all together, I know it is family time, not me time. I have not yet had anyone in my life that calls me his or her 911. However, I hope that one day I will have someone who will be able to call me so.


1 February, 2023