A Beautiful and Poignant Essay on the Refugee Experience

Photo of Clementine Wamariya by Andrew White for Matter

In 2006, I began to volunteer with the refugee and asylee community in Denver.  At that time, civil war in Sudan raged on, and George Clooney’s efforts to bring America up to speed on the atrocities were looking like they might gain some traction. Little did many Americans know that asylum seekers from countries all over Africa and beyond (over the years I’ve met people from Somalia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda-and many counties in Asia as well) were desperate to be approved for asylum in the U.S. That same year, Clementine Wamariya, a young girl from Rwanda, was asked to be a guest on the Oprah Winfrey show and was awarded a prize for her high school essay on genocide. Thus begins her beautiful and poignant new essay, “Everything is Yours, Everything is Not Yours,” which deeply explores the emotional intricacy’s of being a refugee in America. Ms. Wamariya’s story is one of courage and doubt, confusion and resolve, and it helped to remind me why I donate my time to such a worthy cause. It’s well worth the read. Everything is Yours, Everything is Not Yours, by Clementine Wamariya