Communications & New Media Major
We were ten children. Pitchou was number 2; I was number 7. There were 6 different mothers. My father kept us together, because he could afford our school. Most of us only had our mom for a short time, but no mother in the home.
My name is Junes Thete, and I am from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Pitchou was 13 years older. When I was 3, my Dad took me from my mother. Pitchou saw me as his brother, no different than the others. He was always with me, helping me, fighting for me, educating me. He taught me that it is not OK to eat when you are walking. This sounds funny to you, but he taught me that it was not appropriate for others to watch you eating. One time I was eating a piece of bread, because I was hungry; he hit me so hard and reminded me of this lesson.
To this day, I cannot eat while walking.
He taught me how to stay clean, the importance of education, how to be independent, how to take care of myself.
Something happened. I don’t know what happened, but something happened. Pitchou planned to go to Paris for opportunities, but somehow he ended up in Senegal and he never left. There are so many questions and not many answers. He was 30 and I was 17 when he left me.
I had been talking to him online, but he never told me he was not in France. Then we heard he was sick. My sister’s mom came to see my mother, saying Pitchou was not doing well. When she left, my mom told me, but I still didn’t know that it was serious. This was 2007; being in contact with others was not like it is today. Facebook did not even exist; the Internet was not available all the time.
I found out later that my Dad did not want us to worry, but if I had known, I would have prayed. I know that you do not get everything that you pray for, but I was not able to see him. If I had prayed, that would have been my contribution.
I never talked to him again. About two weeks later, my dad called my older brother who called my sister, Dalhia. I was sleeping when I heard her screaming. It was 2 AM. When I opened my door, I heard, “Seigneur pas lui. Seigneur pas lui.” “God, not him, not him.”
She looked at me and said, “Ya Pitchou est partis, on ne lui reverra plus.” “Pitchou is gone; we will never see him again.” I started crying.
To this day, I do not know what happened. I have no answers. Why do we hide things from people who need to know, people who can help us? His fiance told me that someone was calling him, saying he was going to die. Is this true? I don’t know. Why didn’t he tell us sooner? Why? So much I don’t know.
Today I am 25 years old; Pitchou died 8 years ago. He would be 38. I think of that often. What would he say if he could see me today?
I hope that he would say he’s proud of me — that he would see I am getting my education, that I have a job, that I take care of myself. I send money home to help my family. I have my own apartment and pay all my own bills. Even in Portland, I do not eat on the streets.
I am also building a recording studio, and I learned that from him too. My goal is to find unknown artists and help them become known: to record their music, to achieve their dreams.
Even though Pitchou is not with me, in a way, he is. Every time there is an issue in my family, every time I have a personal problem, I see him telling me what to do. He always told me that I needed to keep the family united, that there is a solution to all of life’s challenges. I will always remember the lessons I learned from him, always.