NaPoWriMo 28 – Urumuri

Today’s NaPoWriMo challenge is to write a found poem, comprised only of words found in a news article. I selected an article entitled, “Rwanda’s orphans form their own families,” at  These are children who lost their parents in the 1994 genocide.

During a 100-day period in 1994, 70% of the Tutsi population was killed. Most Tutsi children who survived were orphans. Many women who survived were repeatedly raped by the Hutu aggressors and contracted, and later died of, AIDS. In essence, their children lost their mothers twice–once to the war and later to the virus.

In 1996, a group of students at the University of Rwanda founded  the Association for Student Genocide Survivors (AERG) to help surviving children. They organized what the article calls “artificial families” of  students who were orphaned/homeless. The students in these families began to have a sense of belonging again. They became their own support system. Each family elects a mother and father, who may not be the oldest of the group, but who are committed to taking on the emotional responsibilities, counseling and caring, that parenting typically entails.

Because of AERG’s work over the past 18 years, more than 43,000 people are part of a family again.

The found poem does not have to pertain to the subject matter of the news article, but after reading the article I could not think of anything else but this powerful example of family values, a miracle of love being played out in the most devastating situation imaginable. The one thing I would dispute in the article is the term, “artificial families.” These families are amazing. They are focused and caring. They are anything but “artificial.”

The title of the poem comes from the chosen name of one of the families interviewed, “Urumuri.” The father chose that name because it is related to light–bringing the light, shedding light, lighting something up.


by Jan Brown


light spreads

to the dark land

so that we can go back

to the way we were

together, as families


light stolen

from history

from children who witnessed

mothers, fathers, neighbors

taken away


light permeates

days of mourning

too young to explain

all the huge issues

all the small things


light commemorates


mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters

light is a basic necessity

to live peacefully now


light builds

relationships–together for life

claiming the peace

dealing with emotions

life in good hands


urumuri = light

for sunny afternoons in school

not artificial, yet enough

life so dark

is bright again



2 thoughts on “NaPoWriMo 28 – Urumuri

  1. I enjoyed your poem very much. The history of this is being repeated and ignored, shameful. I was just thinking about this today, so I am pleased to find something from the universe reinforcing that I need to devote more thought to it. Thank you for that. Peace ~ Michael

    • Thank you, Michael. Yes, it’s frightening to think we haven’t yet evolved into a peaceful species. But young people full of strength and love, like these survivors, provide a glimmer of hope for better days. Thank you so much for visiting my blog.

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