Emma Thompson celebrates her refugee, child-soldier son’s graduation

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Emma Thompson and Tindyebwa Agaba in 2008. Credit: Getty Images

I would totally go lesbian for Emma Thompson twenty times over. I love that woman so much, and it seems like every story I read about her, every interview I read with her, every film I watch with her, I just love her more and more. Put Gerard Butler, George Clooney, Daniel Craig, Angelina Jolie, Clive Owen, and Emma Thompson in front of me, and I’m going to go all geeky, obsessed, insane, frothing-at-the-mouth fangirl crazy on Emma, and only Emma. Well, I might give Clive the side-eye, but my heart would still belong to Emma.

This latest story about her just confirms my decades-long belief that she’s a goddess-empress in desperate need of a queendom. And I shall be her most loyal supplicant! Emma and her hottie husband Greg Wise informally adopted a teenage Rwandan refugee six years ago. Tindyebwa “Tindy” Agaba had been a child soldier during the Rwandan civil war, and it is believed that his birth mother and father, as well as his sister, are all dead. He had been brought to England with Care International, and Emma and Greg met him in 2003, at a Refugee Council party. What started out as a loose friendship between Emma’s family and Tindy grew into a family situation quickly. And Tindy wanted his “adopted” mom, dad, and little sister at his graduation (with honors) from Exeter University:

Six years ago she saved him from a life of unimaginable hardship, as a child soldier in war-torn Rwanda. And yesterday Emma Thompson beamed with pride as she watched her adopted African son graduate from university.

Wearing a cream suit and green satin jacket, the 50-year-old actress wrapped her arm around Tindyebwa Agaba as he clutched his ribbon-tied scroll. And along with Miss Thompson’s husband Greg Wise, the family proudly posed for the student’s official graduation photo.

Dressed in a traditional black cloak and mortarboard, 22-year-old Tindyebwa grinned with delight as Exeter University Chancellor Floella Benjamin presented him with his 2.1 honours degree in politics.

‘I admit I found my first year very difficult, the second year was less difficult and the third year was an absolute blast,’ he said after the ceremony.

‘So in a nutshell I’ve been from hell to heaven in three years.’

Miss Thompson and Mr Wise met Tindyebwa, known as Tindy for short, at a Refugee Council party in 2003, when he was 16 years old.

His father had died from AIDS when he was just nine and his mother and sister were listed as missing during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, having probably been abducted and raped by soldiers. Tindy was forced to serve as a child soldier, but charity Care International eventually helped him flee to Britain, where he met his adoptive parents.

‘He didn’t have much English, but we just got talking,’ Miss Thompson has previously said. ‘His experience had been awful and when he finally got to Britain after tremendous suffering, he told us the authorities didn’t believe him.’

‘He spent two nights sleeping rough before they finally did. It was the only time he considered suicide. He’s such a lovely, enchanting boy, so I said “Come and spend Christmas with us”. And he came for half the day. Slowly he became a permanent fixture, went on holidays with us and became part of the family.’

Adopting Tindy also helped the actress, who had tried and failed to have more children after undergoing IVF to conceive daughter Gaia, now eight years old. Wise has described the process as ‘brutal’ and admitted it left him requiring therapy.

‘You try your hardest and, if it doesn’t work, it’s not your fault,’ he said.

After learning to speak English, Tindy studied GCSEs and A-levels before winning a place at Exeter University. He said he chose Exeter because his surrogate family had told him of the ‘stunning beauty there, where they shot Sense And Sensibility’ – the 1995 film on which Miss Thompson met her 43-year-old husband.

From September, Tindy plans to attend London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, where he will study for a Masters Degree in Human Rights Law.

[From The Daily Mail]

My love for Emma is enough to sustain me, but how incredible is Greg Wise? I love a man who’s secure enough to speak openly about the struggles he and his wife had with conceiving. Last year, there were rumors that Tindy might be deported back to Rwanda, that his application for residency might be denied. Fortunately, it’s said that Emma and Greg fought hard through the courts to keep Tindy in England, and his application for was granted. I hope Tindy continues on with his studies at law school, and becomes the best human rights lawyer ever!

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36 Responses to “Emma Thompson celebrates her refugee, child-soldier son’s graduation”

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  1. Annie says:

    Tearing up over here!! Amazing.

  2. Bill Hicks is God says:

    This helps explain why she was so fantastic in “In the Name of the Father,” she was playing a character very much like herself; the nurturing yet ferocious advocate. She’s just marvellous.

  3. lola says:

    Queen Emma RULES. I am beyond excited for her family. Rock on.

  4. Katharine Jaynes says:

    How nice to read such a beautiful story in this day and age.

  5. Orangejulius says:

    I have so much more respect for this adoption than some others (looking at you, Madonna).

  6. Your Friend says:


  7. grisgris says:

    She is just a beautiful human being – inside and out.

  8. bros says:

    what the F? they were going to deport him back to Rwanda in the middle of his damn university years? what the hell king of GD nonsense is that? and then send him back there without a professional degree so he could effect change? I mean, i get that it might have been a temp. visa to stay in england, but shipping these kids back before they have enough experience to decide if they want to go back just seems cruel. I have no doubt he will probably choose to work there and deal with african human rights cases, but sheesh.

  9. Ernestine says:

    I just clicked on here to post a bunch of statements about how much I adore this woman, and I see you already did a way better job in the first paragraph. :-)

    Emma Thompson might just be the classiest actress alive today. She just completely radiates warmth, intelligence, and inner beauty.

  10. Rosalee says:

    Emma Thompson is simply the best..all the best to her “adopted” son.

  11. mE says:

    Sounds like awesome people all around. Such a nice story to hear.

  12. ! says:

    wow, i’m teary eyed.

  13. Jenny says:

    She is so amazing.

  14. Green Is Good says:

    Well done, Emma & Greg.

    Congrats Tindyebwa!

  15. Fiestarter says:

    Wonderful! Now things like this are great to read about.

  16. Lee says:

    What’s so great about this story is that Emma and her family did this amazing thing, years back, followed it through, and did so without making a big PR story of it to advance her image and career, unlike a couple of other big names I don’t need to mention. It is far more real, and thereby far more touching.

  17. lucy says:

    Great story! Thanks for posting it.

  18. Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

    What a beautiful story. Tears, I tell you! TEARS! And that part about Exeter? Who stuck all of these onions under my eyes?

  19. Lardy Chops says:

    A great actress and a great human being. Some other ‘celebs’ on this site should take note.

  20. photo jojo says:

    I knew from the very first sentence who wrote this. :) What a fabulous story!

  21. Lark3 says:

    I am crying over here! That is without a doubt the best news I have ever read on a “gossip” site. I truly wish all the stories could have a happy ending like this one. Emma and her family are ROCK STARS in my eyes for their compassion and charity. I hope the young man uses this chance to have a wonderful life. God bless this great untraditional family!

  22. faithy says:

    that is simply beautiful

  23. paranel says:

    What a touching story.

  24. shortnotes says:

    Amazing woman, amazing artiste. And Tindy’s amazing too considering his past. Bravo Emma, Greg and Tindy

  25. I Choose Me says:

    I love her. That is all.

  26. Ibn Zayd says:

    Ugh. Another white savior of the Third World whose very lifestyle contributes to the economic and political conditions that caused the child’s condition in the first place which now she gets to claim as having “saved”. How sick and desperately sad. I hope he becomes a lawyer and sues her for kidnapping. I’ll tell you when I’ve stopped throwing up.

  27. Charissa says:

    I’m gonna cry. The look on her son’s face says it all.

  28. Jaxon says:

    Here’s someone who took on a child for HIS sake not her own image or publicity like others who won’t be named. She is such a real and generous person.

  29. Meimei says:

    “I hope he becomes a lawyer and sues her for kidnapping.”

    You’re joking, right?

    I can somehow see how this might apply had he been a small child adopted from his country of origin, but taking in a 16-year old refugee..?

  30. sickofit says:

    nice story. but honest, everyone knows madonna just adopting to pump up her narcisst self with some meaning.
    thompson just does not need that.

  31. the original kate says:

    another reason to love emma! i didn’t know she adopted a refugee child – funny how some people can do it quietly and with dignity….yeah, brangelina and madge – i’m looking at you! i am glad tindy’s story worked out so well, and his future looks so promising. and emma is the best. so talented, lovely, and with a great sense of humor.

  32. Ana says:

    I love it! Simply amazing! :)

  33. lola lola says:

    Really needed to read a positive story today. Thanks CB! Good to know self-less acts still exist. Queen Emma, too true.

  34. Mary Jane says:

    To Ibn Zayd:

    I doubt Ms. Thompson considers herself a “white saviour of the third world.” I have been reading tabloids for years and NEVER heard this story before. Say what you will about Angelina or Madonna’s reasons, but leave Ms. Thompson out of that argument.

  35. Nebraska says:

    It is really heartwarming to read this story and that selfless acts of kindness do exist.

  36. Penny says:

    I have never in my life met a more down to earth celebrity family than this one. Am so proud to say I know them and can’t say enough about the selfless love they show to anyone they meet, are they not gorgeous? Thank you Emma, Greg and family for what you have done for Tindy. If there is a God out there am sure He is smiling. You are only one in millions. Love you lots. xoxoxo