When you are from Congo, you know about the war and how we fled to be refugees. We don't like to bring it up and talk about it. It makes me overcome with emotions that are too intense! With the gang rape, the violence and atrocities, we are too ashamed to talk about it. We have an unspoken story, as women who have fled the war. To speak about it opens old wounds.
Even in Uganda, where we fled to be refugees in October 2012, those who were supposed to protect us also abused us. Life in the camp was a tough life. There was abuse and corruption. Even people who were supposed to accept the paperwork for (UNHCR) resettlement wouldn't help without being bribed. We refugees didn't have the money to pay them. Sometimes they accepted something else, but they were abusive and took advantage of us for anything they would do.
At one time, many of us in the camp wanted to go back to our home country rather than suffer in the camp. (As many as 250 refugees attempted to cross Lake Albert from the Kyangwali settlement, but 98 were confirmed drowned when one of the boats capsized).
That's what happened. But we thank God, because when we were without hope, Pastor Justin visited our camp. For us, it was like an angel came from Heaven. He gave them letters and processed paperwork to help us have what we needed to escape the abuse of the camp. When I finally made it to the U.S., Pastor Justin and Pastor Mike met me at the airport. The next day, they delivered household items (furniture, blankets, necessities, etc.). They drive us to get groceries and places we need to go. They help us understand our mail and paperwork. He helps us to find places to study and learn English and get a job.
We left our family back in Africa. Everything we need to deal with and all our needs, we go to CEEDS (Center for Employment and Education Development Services) for advice and help. We feel really happy and we thank God and feel we are in a family here, with a parent and relatives. Also, in joining a church, we are in a big family.
Elodie has been working part-time during the day and goes to school in the evenings.