My name is Trésor Kayumba. I am a parent, teacher, partner, and scholar. I was born in the war-ravaged country that is The Democratic Republic of Congo. My family and I fled the war to Johannesburg, South Africa and later The Uniter States.
I spent a portion of my childhood in an orphanage called The Johannesburg Children’s Home.
I moved to New York soon after the terrorist attack on 9/11. I was fortunate enough to join the South Kent School community in 2005, and graduated four years later. My journey at South Kent was an improbable one, but with the unyielding support of the faculty, I graduated with the highest honor of the school. I was awarded the Headmaster’s Cup; given to a student who embodies the values of the school. Make no mistake about it, my time on the Hillside was a struggle, but one that was manageable because of the common desire and unprecedented support provided to me by the faculty and staff.
I have embarked on a task often ignored due to ignorance, cumbersomeness, and its complexity. The task of earnest acknowledgment of poverty and injustice some of the forgotten citizens of this world face. I have assumed the role that is the least popular in this century of leaders. To advocate for human beings who don’t fit into a misconstrued notion of norm in society. These citizens who have been denied some of the most fundamental things we often take for granted, and all this at the expense of our happiness and wellbeing.
I’m embarking on a journey that will lead me to immense frustration, depression, and possibly even cynicism. I often wonder: if I don’t sacrifice myself to help, than who will? Few can provide the assistance, guidance, understanding, and advocacy these South African orphans need, but a former orphan.
Last year I spent a portion of my summer working with AIDS victims in an orphanage called Nkosi’s Haven. This establishment was built in honor of the young AIDS spokesman who died at a young age. Nkosi Johnson was ostracized by the South African community due to his condition, just like many orphans today are.
I am back in this community this summer to further the cause of achieving and maintaining a level of dignity for the residents of Nkosi’s Haven.
The task to achieve our objectives is great, but with your help, we can make incremental progress. I believe that these folks deserve a fair chance, just as I was fortunate enough to get. They too, as I have, will gain the tools necessary to be self sufficient.
I leave you with this quote; “To accept passively an unjust system is to cooperate with that system; thereby the oppressed become as evil as the oppressor. Noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as cooperation with good.”
I’m aware of the injustices and systematic oppression of orphans, poverty stricken folks, minorities, and women across the world. That narrative is far too familiar for me. I understand that we all have our own troubles, and I too, could have easily chosen to ignore what I know exist in effort to pursue personal gains, but my conscious will not allow me to do so. Especially now that I am a father.