Scott: Now, this next young man you are about to meet is a prime example of someone defying all the odds stacked up against him. And his story is sure to inspire you to take on any challenge you might encounter. Shelby Holliday has more.
Shelby: Balloons, signs and anxious greeters lined up to welcome a special student with big dreams.
Greeter: Welcome! We are so excited to have you here!
Shelby: Twenty-one-year-old Norbert Abayisenga is off to college in Minnesota! But he is not your typical student. Norbert grew up in the African country of Rwanda, a nation that was torn apart in 1994 by a campaign that aimed to kill the country’s ethnic Tutsi population. It is often referred to as the Rwandan genocide.
Norbert Abayisenga: During the genocide I lost my mother at the age of two.
Shelby: Norbert’s father died a few years later. And at age seven, he was left without parents.
The Rwanda genocide of 1994 was one of the most brutal acts of murder ever committed. As many as 1 million people died just because they belonged to a certain ethnic group, or because they were trying to help those being murdered. Seventy-five thousand survivors, like Norbert, were orphaned as a result. And more than half of children stopped going to school because of poverty.
But amazingly, Norbert beat the odds. He survived life in an orphanage and did well in school. His performance was so impressive that it caught the attention of Donna Wiederkehr, who was a world away in America.
Donna Wiederkehr: Norbert was number one in his class – his graduating class. We’re very proud of him. And he was one that was selected for this just amazing life changing opportunity.
Shelby: Donna saw Norbert’s promise and went to work sharing his story. When St. Olaf College in Minnesota heard about him, they offered him a full scholarship.
Kyle: And I think Norbert will be a better person for having been at St. Olaf. But I think even more important, our students will become better people because of their time with Norbert.
Shelby: Settling into school, Norbert is learning to use a computer for the first time – one donated along with all those other things a student needs. He literally came to America with little more than desire; the wish to become a nurse and to help others in need.
Norbert: My life has been changed because of the lives of very many people, so I want to make sure that my life is also effective in other people’s life.
Shelby: For the next four years, St. Olaf will be Norbert’s home, where he will be getting a good education and inspiring his new peers. So far, he is loving life at college.
Norbert: The first week has been amazing, and thanks to all people who have made it possible.
Shelby: Shelby Holliday, Channel One News.
Scott: Dedicating his life to helping others. Pretty awesome!