We can't afford Christmas here - Rwandan asylum seeker in Cape Town

2016-12-22 07:17
Rwandan asylum seeker Beatrice Ingabire says since she came to South Africa Christmas has been like any other day. Photo: Tariro Washinyira

Rwandan asylum seeker Beatrice Ingabire says since she came to South Africa Christmas has been like any other day. Photo: Tariro Washinyira

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - For Rwandan asylum seeker Beatrice Ingabire, Christmas will be a day like any other.

“My children have never experienced any celebrations; we can’t even afford birthday celebrations,” she says.

Ingabire, 37, is a single parent, the mother of three girls and a boy.

She moved to South Africa in 2013.

She says her three-year-old daughter has been singing about getting a pink dress and shoes for Christmas. But only the privileged can buy new clothes and decide what to cook and drink on Christmas Day.

“As for us, we will drink water… it won’t make any difference,” says Ingabire. “Raising money for rent this month of December is my priority.”

Ingabire says her little girl complains about having to wear clothes the family is given.

“She was refusing to wear those oversized dark coloured trousers and top, saying it’s for a boy. But what choice do I have? Whatever people bring from church for her, she should be grateful.”

Ingabire does part-time domestic work and her two older daughters, aged 16 and 18, work three shifts a week at a restaurant in Panorama to help pay for transport to school and for fees, uniforms and stationery.

Ingabire is receiving notices of demand for school fees. She intends to visit the district offices for help as suggested to GroundUp by Jessica Shelver, spokesperson for provincial education department, in a previous article.

Pap and veges

She worries that they don’t have enough time for homework. Sometimes the restaurant transport drops them home after midnight, and then they have to get up at 05:30 to prepare for school.

Last year on Christmas Day, the family went to church and when they returned home, neighbours and the people they share a house with were braaing.

“I pulled my children inside and they stayed until the people were done,” says Ingabire. Then she prepared the usual meal of pap and vegetables.

She will do the same this year.

Her face lights up when she shows photos of her life in Rwanda.

People start to prepare three months before Christmas, says Ingabire, who used to own a retail business. Shops run out of clothes and groceries in the festive season buying spree.

“In my country Christmas was a party day. I had a very big house. People would come and eat at my house.”

“Look how happy my kids are in these past photos. Now that I have come to live this cheap life, my kids are miserable. I had many servants, but now I am the maid.”

Read more on:    rwanda

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.


How to open a beer bottle without an opener

Do the right thing and never be thirsty again…


You won't want to miss...

WATCH: Man films himself going down water slide upside down as things go very wrong…
WATCH: Conor McGregor: Notorious the trailer
Best date night restaurants in South Africa
WATCH: Ryan Reynolds offers fans a free tattoo in new Deadpool 2 teaser
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.