Looking back at 2016: Reflecting With Gratitude!

Another year is gone! I don’t know about you but I feel like 2016 just flew by. While this year has generally been a great year for me and my family, it has also been my busiest as far as I can remember. In addition to my regular job and non profit work, I have also had a decent amount of travel, both in the US and outside the US. It has been a full plate!

My Family Vacation!

Our Family Vacation Time!

As we bid 2016 adieu tonight, I would like to take this moment to express my gratitude:

  • First and foremost, to God who is my Strength, Hope, Counselor, Provider, my reason to rejoice. He Has a new mercy for me everyday and for that I am forever in awe of Him!
  • I am indebted to an incredible group of people who have been walking with me & caring for a cause very close to my heart, Rising Above the Storms. A few individuals who worked tirelessly around the clock, juggling their busy lives and dedicating their time, talent and finances to make our First Annual Gala a success! I can’t thank them enough.
Our RAS Team @ our First Annual Gala

Our RAS Team @ our First Annual Gala

  • Many people who believe in me, my personal story of hope and my life’s dream to change one life at a time, through sharing a message of hope, empowering through education and advocating for orphans. I am especially thankful to my Cisco community, my immediate team that organized an event to raise money for RAS, many individual Cisco employees who donated, Cisco that matches donations, every single donor (small or big) who is contributing to making our dream coming true! I am forever humbled!
1st RAS Annual Gala

First Annual RAS Gala, Sept 22, 2016

  • I am very excited about our very first partnership with a non profit (Amahoro Builders Ministry or ABM) locally based in Rwanda and set to launch on Friday, January 6, 2017 in Kigali. Our main focus there will be to care for street children by listening to their voices and needs, helping them reintegrate in the Rwandan community and guiding them to a future filled with hope. ABM is a non profit organization that places focus on the well being of the family, youth and early childhood development in Rwanda. Their main office is in the Eastern Province.

RAS & ABM Facilities in Kabeza, Rwanda!

  • My friends, too many to mention here, who are always there for me, even when I am not as available for them. I am very thankful to know the greatest individuals!
  • My adopted family in NY and relatives who have given me another chance to have a family that truly cares about my well being. My adopted Mom who has been the greatest supporter of my hopes and dreams, even when my vision seemed impossible.
  • Last but not least, my siblings who are my greatest boast in the Lord, my source of inspiration, my best friends. I cannot imagine my life without them. In addition to my brother and his beautiful wife, last year our lives have been blessed with a little bundle of joy, my nephew (I also call him my grandson) that I love beyond imagination. I know his real grandparents would have loved him as much as I do and more.
With my 14 month old Nephew, Igor Adley

With my 14 month old Nephew, Igor Adley!

I look forward to 2017 with great anticipation! Happy New Year to you and all your loved ones! God bless you!

My Little Sisters

Okay, so, when it comes to talking about my children, wait a minute, my siblings, yes I took the liberty of adopting them as my own, I get super excited. You can blame GOD who gave me the love I have for them.

So, it was my birthday few days ago. How old I am? Let’s just say I was born many moons ago. In Rwanda, at least when I was growing up, we didn’t really celebrate birthdays; people barely remembered it was even their birthday, leave alone celebration. That has drastically changed recently though, and I guess it is because of the western influence through movies, TV, Internet, social networks & media etc. Not to mention that you do not ask a Rwandan lady how old she is, and this is almost true :).

My favorite part is best wishes messages I receive from friends and family. I have some friends whom we normally don’t get a chance to talk often, but they sure know when to drop me an e-mail, exactly to wish me a happy birthday. How thoughtful they are! I keep records of inspiring notes from friends, on paper or by heart, but for the sake of this post, I wanted to share this year’s messages from just my two sisters. Whether they used a dictionary, or Google translate, got a help from our brother or whether I underestimate their English skills is irrelevant here. I just love everything about them and their effort. I was deeply touched. “Ndagukunda” means “I love you” in Kinyarwanda.

Mireille Noella

Mireille Noella

Mireille, above, is the youngest of our family. I just love it when she calls me Mom, it melts my heart. I am sure parents would understand. This  is her message on my birthday:”My beloved sis and Mom, may this day brings and makes your spirit bright and there be many pleasant surprises for u from morning to night. May all your dreams come true  and this day be just right especially for u because u deserve it and all My Love.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY. NDAGUKUNDA.

Alice, below, wrote: “I’m so thankful that i not only have a magnificent sister, but an amazing friend that stands by me and supports me, by giving every piece of her life. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LOVE U SO MUCH.”



My brother Jean Eric’s messages, like always, are full of wisdom and beautiful wishes from the heart. His English is far better and I don’t get surprised as much as I do when it’s a message from Mireille or Alice.

I love them more than I can ever put in words. I sometime have silly thoughts when I picture my siblings’ respective wedding day. I wonder if I will be called “the mother of the bride/groom” or just “the sister of the bride/groom”, or later a grandma or just auntie. Either way, it will certainly be my best moments. Even if I had to start over again and raise them, I would do it in a twinkling of an eye.