Thompson first met Tindyebwa Agaba in 2003 as a 16 year old Rwandan refugee at an annual Christmas party at the Refugee Council.
Emma Thompson has a beautiful relationship with her informally adopted son, Tindyebwa Agaba Wise. But she never told him how famous she was until he found out from his teacher during a Shakespeare class in 2004 while studying for his G.C.S.E.s.
Tindy was studying at the City and Islington College when his teacher showed the class Thompson's former husband's movie, Much Ado About Nothing. Speaking to The New Yorker in a new profile on Thompson, he recalled how he was "absolutely shocked" to see so many familiar faces in the film. "I went to my teacher and said, 'How was this film made? Because I know these people,'" Tindy shared. However, she reportedly laughed it off and told him: "Don't be ridiculous. These are famous actors."
"She couldn't believe a word I was saying," Tindy said. That changed the following week when his teacher brought in a newspaper with a picture of Tindy leaving Thompson's house on his bike. "'Is this you?' she said. That was how I got to know that my mother was somehow well-known. I had no idea," he said. Tindy went on to do a master's degree in human rights law, did human-rights activism for a decade, and became a detective in London's Criminal Investigation Division. According to Scary Mommy, he became a British citizen in 2009 and is now married to He Zhang.
Thompson first met Tindy in 2003 at an annual Christmas party at the Refugee Council, a non-profit which supports refugees and asylum seekers for which Thompson is a patron. The thespian was handing out food when the then-sixteen-year-old Rwandan refugee approached her to thank her for the hot meal. He only knew a few English and French words at the time and the two mostly communicated in semaphores.
The youngster's story is devastating. Tindy's father died of AIDS when he was just nine and his mother and his three sisters were listed as presumed dead in 1999 after the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Tindy was kidnapped by rebel soldiers when he was twelve and trained in the bush as a child soldier until the age of 16 when he reached England with the help of a Care International worker.
However, due to an error in his application for governmental provisions, he spent his first five nights sleeping rough around Trafalgar Square. "I didn't have any friendships. I didn't know how to navigate the city. It was cold. Every white person looked the same to me," Tindy recalled.
During their first conversation, Thompson said, she saw that "his spirit was there to be seen—so clearly—in his eyes. He was alive to everything, though at the same time silent. He saw something in me he wanted to talk to... He was very traumatized, clearly, and very lonely."
After the event, Thompson offered Tindy a ride back to North London, where he was staying with a Nigerian family, and invited him to her home for Christmas Eve dinner. Although he was suspicious of her generosity at first, over time he came to recognize her kindness and goodwill. Thompson spent six months working with him on his pronunciation and vocabulary before eventually paying for him to get speech lessons from the acclaimed dialect coach Joan Washington. Soon, Tindy began to call Thompson and her husband, Greg Wise, "Mum" and "Dad."
She met Rwandan refugee Tindyebwa Agaba Wise when he was 16, and he soon became a part of her family.https://t.co/wU9mc5rG3d— Scary Mommy (@ScaryMommy) November 11, 2022
Tindy recalled feeling that he "didn't have anything to give," when he met Thompson and Wise. Responding to her son's revelation, the actress responded, "What hasn't he given!"
"So much joy, so much insight to share in his empathy and his understanding of the world," she continued. "We laugh—and he helps me to laugh—at the weirdness of people, at the strangeness of life, at its cruelties and absurdities. It's such a comfort."
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