Finding My Voice in Silence

My daughter came into this world, in silence.
My daughter taught me how to give, in silence.
My daughter taught me how to love, in silence.

You see, at the age of 8, I survived the Rwandan Genocide. Close to a million people died in a short period of 3 months.

I became a refugee.
I saw things….things that I wish I can unsee.
But my innocent eyes were no more.

I saw rape
I saw death
I saw pain
I saw despair
I saw agony
I saw hopelessness
I saw brokenness
I saw it all
I stored it all…..in silence.

Clarette’s silent entry into this world gave me a voice. At 27 weeks pregnant, she couldn’t stay in the protection of my womb. My daughter wanted to come and make a statement.

When I held my stillborn baby in my arms, she spoke to me…in silence.

She told me that it was time to release all the stored emotions.
She encouraged me to share my story with the world.
She showed me that I could dream big and overcome obstacles.

“You can not be resilient in silence,” she told me.

In silence, she whispered,

“Mommy, go and be an inspiration.”

Clarette told me,

“Mommy, I will NEVER leave your side…go and BE.”

Clarette has never left my side since then.

She was there with me when I finally had the strength to write my award winning book; Happily Broken: Discovering Happiness Through Pain and Suffering. She is there with me when I travel the nation to give talks.

Talks on resilience.
Talks on celebrating life.
Talks on embracing diversity.
Talks on overcoming trauma.
Talks on making an impact.

She was there with me when I established the “Clarette Refugee Fund” which builds food and supply pantries in refugee Schools around the world.

She showed me that words are not needed to be Alive.
For she is still alive in me…in silence.
She showed me that words are not needed to make an Impact.
For she made an impact in my life…in silence.
She showed me that words are not needed, to be a Masterpiece.
For she is a masterpiece…in silence.

My stillborn baby Clarette was still born…in silence.
Because of her, I found my Voice…in silence.

Photo: ©Julie Anderson All Rights Reserved


Clementine Bihiga

Clementine Bihiga is an inspirational public speaker and the author of "Happily Broken: Discovering Happiness Through Pain and Suffering". At the age of eight, Clementine and her family were forced to flee their home in Rwanda due to the Genocide and Civil war of 1994 which killed almost a million people in 3 months. Clementine and her family lived as refugees in multiple refugee camps and settlements before they were admitted to the USA in 1999 as refugees. Clementine who faced many life and death situations at a young age including living in refugee camps and waking up among the dead, being bullied as a high school student and losing a daughter, has turned her tragic past into a positive calling of inspiring others to never give up. When Clementine climbed on a "log" in lake Kivu trying to rescue a shirt taken by the waves and finally realizing it was a dead body, she could have given up. When she was almost beaten to death by a motorist on her way home, she could have given up. When she woke up among dead bodies claimed by Malaria, Typhoid, Cholera, etc. she could have given up hope. When she got to the USA and was bullied in high school for being different every single day, she would have quit and given up. Life was unforgiving for Clementine, but she pressed on. Clementine is a prolific linguist who speaks 5 languages, she is actively involved with many organizations such as the Student Leadership Council, World Youth Alliance, the United Nations Agents of Change, the Human Rights Committee, The Student Achievement in Research and Scholarships and the Student Advisory Committee for Foreign Discrimination. Clementine was also selected to be on a panel of the Africana Studies at the Stander Symposium and a panel on International Discrimination. Clementine was able to work as a Campaign Fellow for the United WayShe and intern at the New York State Attorney General's Office. While still in college. After college, Clementine and her husband Chris, who she met in a refugee settlement in Kenya were married. They became proud parents of a son in 2011. As a full-time mother and a full-time employee in Healthcare sales, Clementine decided to also get her Masters Degree. She accomplished this in one year and graduate with a 3.9 GPA with a Masters in Public Administration in HealthCare Administration and also earned a promotion at work for exceeding her sales goals by 160% the same year! She can be seen speaking at many conferences and groups on topics of Self-esteem, Resilience, Working Together, Bullying and Transforming Pain into Happiness

3 thoughts on “Finding My Voice in Silence

  1. Elaine Mansfield Reply

    Thank you. Tears roll down my cheeks. I wish I could undo what happened to you. You have seen and known what I cannot imagine and have found power and love despite it all–with the help of an inner guiding angel.. You help me know I, too, can endure hard times and rise again.

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