April 14, 2019

Lost In 1997, Family Finds Their Son But DNA Results Show No Relationship

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Eric the baby with no parents many years ago, and with the supposed parents whom DNA shows they have no blood connection

A family in Huye district, Southern Rwanda have refused to believe DNA results provided by a government laboratory on a child they claim to have lost back in 1997 on the Rwanda-DR Congo border.

The desperate husband Bagirayabo Anastase and wife Nyiraneza Yozefa say they are convinced “God is the only one” who knows that the young man found last month is indeed their son.

There was excitement in the family when the young man appeared following a social media campaign which he himself launched, and was supported by local Kinyarwanda media.

The latest twist to this emotional story began in late March. A young man called Eric Nsengiyumva posted images on his WhatsApp status of himself when he was still a toddler aged around 2 years. Other photos showed him grown up, and another photo of him today.

There was a phone number 0784694349 on which he could be contacted.

The social media posts accompanying the photos said he was looking for his parents. Eric said in 1997 he had been picked by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Gisenyi town, bordering DR Congo – now Rubavu district.

Back then, Rwanda was only recovering from the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. Tens of thousands of Rwandan refugees that had crossed to DR Congo were still flocking back home.

Eastern Congo regions neighbouring Rwanda were occupied by the ousted government military and genocide militias. In Rwanda, a new government of national unity had been in charge.

Actually, when the aid agency found the baby and asked for his names, all he could say is “Eric”. The agency took him in, and gave him the name “Nsengiyumva”. ICRC took care of him until he for sometime.

When Eric appeared on social media, he said he was living in Kigali, now aged 24years.

Within days, a couple from Huye contacted him. On March 24, Eric traveled to meet them. It was a life-changing encounter.

According to the supposed parents Bagirayabo Anastase and wife Nyiraneza Yozefa, Eric has a twin brother.

Their version of events of how their son disappeared is shocking, to say the least.

Back in 1997, as they were at the Goma-Gisenyi border, Eric was being carried on the back by his father’s sister, while the mother had the other baby.

The Aunt may have taken a different route and they could not find her or the baby.

But according to Eric, he was told by ICRC later that he was picked on a the streets in Gisenyi, Rwanda. It is unclear how he ended up abandoned, and where the Aunt is to date.

At the home of his new parents, even the neighbors, some of whom knew Eric when he was still a baby, enthusiastically confirmed the couple are his parents.

The supposed mother was the happiest, even making him sit on her lap during the first encounter.

It seems all the excitement has suddenly faded after Bagirayabo decided that a DNA be conducted.

He said the process was unnecessary, but it was meant to confirm to whoever had followed the process, that indeed Eric is their boy. He also said the DNA would remove any doubts in the mind of Eric.

This Friday April 12, the family returned to the Kigali-based National Forensic Laboratory for the results, and it was bad news: Eric has no biological relationship with the couple.

At the time this case arose, The Chronicles posted a brief on Twitter in English and there was massive reaction. The Rwanda Red Cross also joined the conversation, posting on our Timeline that they would contact Eric to help with the search for his parents.

The story is being produced in English for the first time.

Eric told The Chronicles on Saturday that he was convinced beyond any doubt that Bagirayabo is his biological father. He says he cannot agree with the DNA results.

“I developed a very strong bond with my parents the moment I met them. There is this feeling I cannot explain that I have about them, and which can only be with a biological parent,” he said. “I dont think those machines are right.”

Eric just completed high school last year, and it is his new found parents who paid the Rwf 305,000 for the DNA test.

Bigirabayo, the disappointed father, said if he had more money, he would seek a DNA test outside Rwanda.

“How is it really possible that Eric is not my son?,” he wondered in interview. “Eric looks exactly like me and his twin Patrick. Despite being a poor man, I tried my best to find the money to pay the laboratory for the DNA test and that is the result they can give me!”

As the situation stands now, Eric may have to continue the search for his parents.

Anyone who can identify Eric, please don’t hesitate to call or WhatsApp on 0784694349.

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