The following text is from an interview conducted on August 10, 2017 by WRC volunteer Piper French.
S lives just off of Broad St. with his seven children. His youngest, A, is three; the eldest, C, is 23 and married himself, though his wife is still in the refugee camp in Uganda where S's family lived for 11 years before finally being resettled.
During his time in the camp, S’s back was broken twice; he wants to be able to work in the U.S. but is plagued by persistent health problems. When I came to his house for this interview, he was watching a Bollywood show with his youngest children before a doctor’s appointment. We started out speaking in French, but he quickly switched to Swahili in order to be able to better express himself.
Where are you from?
Congo - Congo Kinshasa - because, you know, there are two Congos.
How long ago did you arrive in the US?
I arrived in September 2016. Almost one year ago.
How have things changed for you in the past year?
Things are good. —I’m going to speak in my own language because I don’t want the important things to get lost.— Since we arrived, we’ve had to deal with changes related to the climate —winter was one of the first experiences we had here, which was really difficult. Where we’re from, there’s no snow! But, little by little, with the people we’ve met here—the community, our brothers, the organization Women’s Refugee Care— we’ve been supported. They were the ones who welcomed us, who came to greet us at the airport.
What did you expect before you came to the US?
Before we came, we knew that we were going to live in the US, but we didn’t know what type of people we would meet. We didn’t speak English; we couldn’t talk. But we met WRC at the airport with Dorcas International caseworkers. We were really happy because we spoke the same language, Swahili. We were reassured—they said “everything will be all right here.” Even our fears about the weather— then when we saw WRC, our brothers from the Congo, we saw that they were able to learn to live with the climate, so we had hope for ourselves.
We were a little worried for the children - how they would adjust to school, how they would communicate with the other students, establish themselves. How to get around, leave our house, get to work or other important places. We were new, so we were very confused. We didn’t know how things worked.
Dorcas helped a lot, but the greatest contribution has been WRC. They helped us a lot - they brought us out, to the market, to the hospital. We were very afraid about the adjustment, but now we feel supported. We feel like things will work out.
Leaving our country, leaving the life we led up until now, is truly not easy. It hasn’t been easy. But for the moment, we feel that it’s going to be okay. We have hope. No refugee has had it easy. Life has been really tough. We were in the refugee camp in Kampala (Uganda) for eleven years. It was terrible. Here - here is better. You