Aurelia Kantarama, "Umuyobozi" of Munini
  Aurelia Kantarama, Mama Sibo in front of her house. Photo by Alida K. Ruzibiza

 Aurelia Kantarama, Mama Sibo in front of her house. Photo by Alida K. Ruzibiza

Kantarama, best known as "Mama Sibo" (mother of Sibo, a renowned cancer survivor), is a mother of 13 children and only three stand today at ages of 43, 30 and 15. Her last born child, Sibo, was infected by Hodgkin lymphoma and was cared for by PIH-IMB. Mama Sibo had gone through a hard past, and foresaw losing Sibo as part of her destiny of continuous mourning. Worry and hopelessness is the memory Mama Sibo connects with the most.

Through people that heaven sent, as Mama Sibo describes PIH-IMB affiliates, her son was taken to the United States for cancer treatment. She did not believe that her son would live and so did her family. Sibo returned to her mother healthy and continued his education.

When asked how PIH-IMB can help her so that she can take care of her family and Sibo, Mama Sibo pulled the proverb, “if you give me fish, I will eat for the day; if you teach me to fish – I will feed myself and my family for years” and asked for a plot of land so that she can cultivate and earn an income from her crops. With generous support from PIH’s Board member and former COO Ted Philip, Mama Sibo received over 1 hectare of land on which she harvests bi-annually to thrice a year, depending on the kind of crops she planted. Their house was also extended from a one bedroom to a three bedroom house and is now fully furnished, equipped with solar electricity and she even got a TV where she watches news.

Mama Sibo uses money wisely to make sure she relies on PIH no more. From the money PIH-IMB gave her to raise her capacity toward self-reliance, she bought goats and resold them for profit. She then managed to build a fence around her house for privacy and security. When we asked about her challenges/what she needs from PIH today, she proudly responded “I don’t need anything now, I work and I can cover my family needs so I am good”. She rather revealed her wishes/plans to have an ‘appreciation’ party one day. “I need a day to not only show my family, neighbors and friends what PIH has helped me achieve but also share the pride of being cared for,” she asserts.

Mama Sibo’s efforts have now earned her the name ‘umuyobozi’ meaning a leader or champion in her village.

 Sibo Tuyisenge (left) while in the US for cancer treatment. Photo by Zack DeClerck / Partners In Health

Sibo Tuyisenge (left) while in the US for cancer treatment. Photo by Zack DeClerck / Partners In Health

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