Swansea couple turn dream into reality for Rwandan solicitor
HE was orphaned as a teenager in Rwanda, but thanks to the help of a Swansea couple, Jeffrey Nikitazi's life has been transformed.
The 32-year-old is currently staying in the city to learn more about the British legal system.
And his stay completes a remarkable journey for the newly-qualified solicitor, who gave up his education to look after his younger brother and sister following the death of their parents when he was just 17.
Thanks to the selflessness and generosity of Cockett family Paddy Walsh and Helen Perry, who have established the Help a Rwandan Person (Harp) charity, Jeffrey was able to return to his schooling and embark on a career as a solicitor.
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"Our parents died of Aids when I was 17," said Jeffrey, who is from the western city of Gisenyi.
"I was in the eighth grade of school and had to give it up to work and provide for my brother and sisters.
"My first job was loading boxes of beer into a truck, then I was a construction worker.
"When I was doing these jobs I kept reading, it was still my dream that someday I would go back to school.
"I kept reading and taught myself English, French, history and geography."
When Paddy and Helen arrived in the country in 2007 to teach at a university in the city of Kibuye, Jeffrey offered to help them in their home.
"They were very kind to me, they were the first bosses I had ever had to treat me with kindness," he said.
"They were there for three months initially and they asked me about my background and what my dreams were.
"I said I wanted to go to university and they told me they would support me through my studies.
"They also asked if there was anyone else they could help — there was a family I knew made up of four siblings who had also lost their parents to Aids.
"They also helped them and the charity really started from there."
"I went to university and it was one of the greatest moments of my life, the dream was coming true," he said.
"I did well and graduated in February and have already taken on a few cases.
"I will be in the UK until October, it was my first time on a plane and it was quite amazing, the excitement I can't express.
"I have been to Fishguard, St David's and Oxford but the most touching thing is that the people are very, very kind, it's amazing."
With his passion for education and life, Jeffrey reserves his biggest affection for the two people who have had such an impact on his life.
"I would describe Helen and Paddy in three words – love, humanity and angelic," he added.
"They have helped others without expecting anything at all.
"They have helped all these people in Rwanda, they are amazing."
Can you help Harp? Go to www.harpcharity.org.uk or call 01792 417 494.
01792 514 665.