A memoir from Sandra’s perspective, How Dare the Sun Rise is the story of Uwiringiyimana’s childhood in a war torn country and her family’s immigration to the United States as refugees. Uwiringiyimana grew up in the DR of Congo and later moved to Rwanda as a refugee, ultimately emigrating to the us. She speaks from the heart very honestly and openly about her experiences. She loved school, but often school was interrupted by war, and she would flee with her family.
Uwiringiyimana’s worst nightmare occurs when she watches her mother and sister gunned down before her. She writes about the event throughout the book, as the story continues to be revisited and to ultimately unfold in her grief and post-traumatic stress.
However, her problems are not all solved when she moves to America. Much like the book I just finished reading, Girl in Translation, Uwiringiyimana moves to New York with her family where they are put in a new school where she doesn’t understand the other kids’ customs and culture. They tell her she acts white, but the white kids don’t want to hang out with her because she looks black. She finds herself often in between binaries with nowhere to go because the binary doesn’t create space for someone who grew up in Africa.
At one point in school, after she has established herself more and speaks English more fluently, her class watches Hotel Rwanda. This is the first time many of the kids from the US have seen the violence that happened to Uwiringiyimana play out before them, and they were unaware that war occured in that way. Uwiringiyimana shares it as a kind of break through with the other kids because she is able to share with them some of her background and they show empathy towards the people in the movie and towards her.
From then on Uwiringiyimana never gives up the idea that people will care if you share with them, that rather than being unsympathetic, people are just ignorant and don’t know of the horrors in the world. She continues her activism, sharing her story more and more so that people cannot ignore the tragedies that befell her people. Her story is one of grace, and I appreciate so much the work that she does and the compassion that she draws out of people.
This is a must have book for schools, as it’s so important to share these stories with our children so they know how to move through the world with compassion and without ignorance.