I usually start off my posts talking about where and how I met the people I interview/ feature on my blog, well, this one is a different one because… I have never met Andrea. A super cool friend of mine had told me about Andrea and her story. I asked if she wouldn’t mind sharing it with me and you and she surprisingly said yes. However, she wanted to stay ANONYMOUS for privacy reasons. I was like…Holla Holla Holla (in Swoozie’s voice), say want?
I wrote to Andrea -you understand now this is an alias- on Facebook after a few months and we started talking. I didn’t understand how this super quiet and shy girl would be so willing to share her story with us.
Andrea just turned 23 but yet has known her father for only 2 years. She spent most of her childhood in Gitega and was raised by her grandmother, who she still tends to call mum because she didn’t really spend her childhood with her biological mother.
How would you describe your childhood in 3 words?
- Bitter. I was a sad child and I was so angry at my father because I felt like he had abandoned me.
- Empty. It was hard to understand why everyone else had a father and not me. And since I knew little about my existence, I didn’t even know what it felt like to have one.
- Isolated. I grew up hating men in general. I thought that they were evil and I barely allowed any man to enter my life. It is funny to say though that it’s one of my exes who actually encouraged me to start the research and try to find my father.
How did you learn about your father then? Wow that’s a long story. (Don’t you worry Andrea, I have all my time) I never knew who my father was and so many times I tried to ask my mother about it but I never got an answer. I knew his name though. And I knew he was from Rwanda. Then, one night, in August 2013, I was talking to a friend of mine who works in Rwanda and we were discussing about life and I told him that I had no idea who my father was. I didn’t even know if he was alive or not. He asked me to tell him all I knew about him but all I gave him was his first and last name. That’s all I knew about him. He promised to help me find him but I had no hope at all. I was like… we never know.
The next morning, this guy texted me my “father’s” phone number but I didn’t take him seriously. All I wanted to know was…’how did you get this number’. He told me he works with someone who knows someone with the names I gave him. (Basically your father, Andrea, let’s make it simple). I was shocked and scared at the same time. What would I call him saying? I asked my friend to call him for me and he agreed but we still didn’t know how we were going to do it. Was he going to call and say: “Hey Mr., your daughter Andrea has been looking for you…”?? We ended up finding a strategy and… three days after,… MY FATHER CAME TO SEE ME. He too, was surprised to know that I was still alive 20 years later.
But when you two met, how did you know, he was your biological father? I simply asked him questions like: who is my mother, when was I born, names of other relatives…
How was the first time you met him? It was just magical. We talked for about 12 hours straight. I would let you imagine the rest.
I guess you had a thousand questions for your mother. What are the things you mainly wanted to know? My mother never really revealed anything to me. I remember one day she told me that she would tell me the truth about my father when I turn 18 because I was too young to understand. The day of my eighteenth birthday, all I wanted to know was the truth.But still, I got nothing! It was tough but I am so grateful for my friends because they were there for me always, all ways.
How can you describe your relations with both your parents today? My mum is like my bestie now. I no longer live with her and it was hard to tell her that I was going to move and go live with my dad. My dad? It’s a love story between us. I am the most spoiled daddy’s girl (laugh). Every Friday,we have our father-daughter moments when we do anything and sometimes we just sit there and talk.
One family moment that you will always remember? It was on the 26 of September 2014: the day my dad declared in front of all his friends and family that I was his first daughter.I couldn’t help shedding a tear.
That day I had arrived with my aunt from Bujumbura and when we got at the house that was going to become my new home, my dad had organised a huge party to welcome me.
All these people that I have never seen before where handing me gifts and cards; they were all hugging me. I felt so much love. My dad then stood up to give a speech in front of the 100 people and more that were there and said:”Today I am introducing to you my first born.My first daughter, the fruit of my love…Please take her as family,…”
How did you change ever since you met your father? I think that it made me more responsible and it especially made me realize how lucky and blessed I am to have a big family.
Do you hold a grudge against anybody? Not really. I sometimes feel sad when I think of all the things I may have missed on in my childhood. It’s the same way I don’t regret to have known the truth because I would probably not be the happy girl that I am today that I know I have a father.
If you had one thing to tell other children who grow up with no father figure, what would it be? I would start by telling them that I know what it feels like. But don’t give up. As long as you are alive and there is God above all, there is hope and God will only do things in his own time.
If I ask you to describe the Andrea that you are today in one word,what would you say? Happy, joyful, very hopeful, always smiling! (Wait a minute, I see three words here,not just one!)
There is nothing like a father-daughter relationship and I can imagine how rough it is to grow up without a father figure. Andrea was blessed enough to find her father years and years after and it seems like she has been enjoying every single moment she has to spend with him.We’re happy that you’re happy Andrea.
I am deeply grateful for Andrea who has been so kind and patient with me.
Photo sources: mashtips.com and wallpaperfolder.com