Season for Caring: The Murorunkwere Family

Eric Tuyishime is the teenage son of a mother’s dreams. The 19-year-old balances challenging school work, a demanding job, and extensive family responsibilities, all with a positive attitude and a shy smile.

He has had a great role model in his mother, Jacqueline Murorunkwere. She is determined to make life better for her family, who lived in a Rwandan refugee camp for 20 years after escaping civil war in their native Congo and before moving to Austin in 2016.

“Not everybody has a chance to come here,” Eric recently told the Austin American-Statesman, which included the family in its 2018 Season for Caring campaign. “It was the happiest day of my life.”

While moving to the United States has been a dream for Eric, it has not been an easy transition for the high school senior.

His days, which begin at 5:30 a.m., typically involve shuttling family members to work and school in a borrowed car before beginning his own day of advanced placement classes, soccer practice, and student leadership.

Evenings include homework, helping his 16-year-old sister, Claudine, and two brothers, 15-year-old Isaac and 13-year-old Faustin, with their own schoolwork. And they all help care for his youngest sibling, one-year-old Cedric.

Meanwhile, Jacqueline has secured a full-time job at a hotel laundry, after moving quickly on a job lead from her Caritas of Austin caseworker, contacting the employer, and setting up an interview even before the referral was complete. She also is learning to drive and is building her English skills. 

“I didn’t even have to open the door for her,” said Caritas of Austin Employment Specialist Allison Watkins. “I just handed her a key, and she did the rest.”

Today, thanks to generous support from our community, the Murorunkwere family is transitioning to permanent housing, and the future is looking brighter.

While the Season for Caring campaign attracted donations from all over the community, employees of Amplify Credit Union met most of their needs, including household items, computers, soccer equipment, and even two reliable vehicles.

That transportation will go a long way to simplifying life for Eric, the only licensed driver in the family, and his mother and sister, who will take driving lessons thanks to another generous donation. The family still hopes for help with Eric’s college tuition.

Thanks to Season for Caring, this hard-working family is well on the way to making Austin their permanent home. If you are interested in making a donation to help this family or other Caritas of Austin clients reach their full potential, click here.