“I am originally from the Republic of the Congo and I have been in Utah for almost two years. I came with my mom, two younger sisters and younger brother. I was 15 when we left, there was a political war, we decided to leave after my father was killed. We traveled to Uganda then to Kenya and then to Ethiopia. A friend of a friend was a truck driver who put us in the back of his truck and took us to Uganda, from there he gave us another truck driver who took us to Kenya. But when we arrived there things were not well either. We met a lady who spoke Swahilli like my mother, she helped us get over the border to Ethiopia. We lived in Ethiopia as refugees. We had to get refugee status through the Ethiopian government and then we applied for settlement through the UN and then The US accepted us. There are procedures. We had to do interviews to check our background and one that explains the laws of America and they ask if you would like to abide by them.”
“How did you find the Gospel?”
“We found the church back in 2012 in Ethiopia through a friend who invited my mom. The missionaries started coming soon after, one was from Texas and the other from Kenya. Luckily the Elder from Kenya spoke Swahili since my mom doesn’t speak much english.”
“Have you seen the hand of the Lord guiding you in your life?”
“Yes, a lot. There was a missionary couple serving in Ethiopia, she had a brother who had a non profit organization in Ethiopia and he happened to be there the week before we flew to Salt Lake and he’s also from Salt Lake. We got to meet him before we moved and the night we arrived in Salt Lake he and his wife were standing at the airport waiting for us. I think they have been the biggest help we’ve received. We realized they live just ten minutes away from our new apartment. They were there to help us set up but it’s not like they just came to help us and left, we have been really good friends ever since and it’s been almost two years. It was funny because he came to our place and looked in all the kitchen cupboards and I wondered what he was doing. The next day he showed up with pots and a microwave and everything we needed. It’s not a coincidence that he happened to be there the same week and we got to meet him before we left.”
“What would you want others to know about being a refugee?”
“One thing I have learned is you meet people and many want to know your story and I feel sometimes people push to get to know your story, which can be great because they are trying to get to know you. But I guess one thing people don’t realize is that can be a traumatic experience. It can be hard to talk about. As you get to know people you can learn their story, just not pushing to ask at first. As you meet refuges get to know them for who they are.”
Ines works with a group creating awareness for refugees. To learn more click here.