A mother from Leeds, whose disappearance in Rwanda sparked a passionate campaign, has given birth to a baby boy after being dramatically freed.
Youth worker Violette Uwamahoro, arrested in February, was reunited with her young sons after the YEP highlighted her story, with a judge ruling there was no case against her. Now, as the family welcomes home new baby Gideon, they have thanked all those who helped to save his life.
“This boy was not going to be here,” said father Faustin Rukundo. “His fate was decided. The best outcome would have been for him to be born in prison. We didn’t dare hope for this. He has been given the chance of life. He is to grow up knowing that.”
Mrs Owumahoro, 39, disappeared in February after attending her father’s funeral, sparking concerns she was being tortured over her husband’s political views.
Mr Rukundo, a youth organiser with the opposition Rwandan National Congress group, was here in Leeds with the couple’s two sons – David, 11, and Sam, eight – and had tried frantically to muster support while protecting the boys from what was happening.
The community rallied. The couple’s neighbours offered help for lawyers, MP Hilary Benn raised the case with Boris Johnson. And it began to make international headlines.
In early April, Mrs Uwamahoro was suddenly freed. A judge ruled there was no case against her and she was granted unconditional bail. Within days, she was home.
Crediting this newspaper for raising a “noise” which travelled further than could have been hoped, Mr Rukundo said it meant more to the family than they could express.
Thanking all those who supported them, in particular MP Hilary Benn, he said: “We owe such massive thanks. It helped me not to give up, because that support was there. As a family it means more than we can say.”
The past few months have been difficult, Mr Rukundo said. But, after Gideon was born on Monday at Leeds General Infirmary, weighing a healthy 3.2 kilos, the family feel they have been granted a new start.
Mrs Uwamahoro, cradling her young son in her arms, says she is just grateful he is safe.
“I was really scared to have a baby there,” said Mrs Uwamahoro. “There were doctors and nurses, but they were soldiers. I thought I would lose my life and the baby as well. I’m happy now, to have my baby. To be surrounded by my family, friends.”
And, says Mr Rukundo, it has changed their family forever.
“It has marked us,” he said. “We will make sure Gideon grows up knowing what’s happened. That is our task and our responsibility. We’ve had a difficult year. Now everything has changed again. It’s a new chapter in our life. We have hope that it will be good.”