Meet Mama Ugene, Jolie 24, Emile 18, Innocent 23, Kamariza 20, Jacqueline 11 (not pictured), and Freddy 7 (not pictured). They arrived here in September from Africa. They lived in Rwanda until they were run out because they didn’t look or speak like the other tribe there. They lived in a refugee camp for 20 years. All of the kids were born in the camp, except for Jolie and Innocent. Jolie is very ill and has a disease. She gets dizzy spells and cannot stand long. The conditions in the camp were very poor, and the lack of food and nutrition has made her sickness much worse. Emile told me that they would often run out of firewood while in the camp and the only way to get more was to leave the camp and go out into the woods. He was always so scared to do this because the woods were full of men with guns and machetes waiting to kill anyone who leaves the camp. Dad was killed 4 years ago after he left the camp to find a better life for his family.
Innocent helped us translate one day at an apartment complex. This is how we came to know this family.
"Life is difficult for us," Innocent told me. He is now responsible for his family and it is his job to care for his Mama and siblings. Innocent is what his African name sounds like in English. Most of the kids came with new American names so they would fit in. They lose so much when they come. Sometimes their entire identity. Innocent asked us if we have heard of New Hampshire Institute. He was able to complete the 1st year of business school in the camp and is very anxious to finish getting a degree in Business. My daughter Ariel and I were so amazed how polite and soft spoken they all were. I describe it almost like listening to a melody as they speak. They were truly amazed that we were only there to help their family. Innocent asked for my number and address and told us he would love to come pay us a visit and return the kindness. I laughed and said "I live far," but far to me is probably nothing compared to where his feet have walked. We told the girls we have a dance group and asked them if they love to dance. Kamariza squealed with excitement! She loves to dance and could not wait to dance with the other girls. As we prepared to leave, they told us they must escort us to our cars. Innocent told us they always escort the women in the camp to keep them safe. They bid us a safe journey and waved us all the way out the gate.
This family never asks for anything, and is the most humble and grateful family I have ever met. They are constantly thanking us for helping them and being their friends. This was a very humbling and testimony building experience for us yesterday. No matter the trials, no matter the journey, love is what matters, Just Love