Where Is She Now?


by Staff | April 29, 2024

I was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2006. My first language is Swahili. I have five brothers and two sisters. In Congo, we had a good life. We had food and we had a good education. However, things changed very suddenly in 2012, when we were forced to move across the border to Uganda.

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My father was a successful businessman. Some people became jealous of him and threatened to kill him and hurt our family. We had no choice but to flee. One evening, we stole away in a large van that was being used to transport livestock, bringing nothing with us but bottles of water. The van smelled awful, and it was a long ride to Kampala, Uganda. I spent most of the ride crying and sleeping, frightened and anxious. I was six years old.

In Uganda, many of our new neighbors were hostile toward us. My parents struggled to find food and work, constantly worrying about what we would eat and whether they would be able to pay our school fees. We wished we could go back to our old life in Congo, but it was too dangerous to return. A family friend told us we could apply for resettlement in the U.S. However, due to a lengthy and complicated application process, it would be another seven years before we were able to move to the U.S.

In Uganda, I had to wake up early and walk about a mile to get to school, or there would be strict punishments for being late. My classrooms were hot and crowded. Some students at my school bullied me. However, I also met some other students from Congo who spoke Swahili like me. One of them told me, “Don’t worry about them. Just continue learning.” Still, I dreamed of continuing my academic journey to high school and then college.

One day in 2019, our lives changed again. My dad came home crying for joy. Our application for resettlement in the U.S. had finally been approved. I was 14 years old. My parents’ greatest hope was moving to the U.S. so that me and my siblings would be able to successfully complete our studies and get a good education.

Susan and Benedith

The first time I cam to GVP, I was so happy. I was shy, but the teachers were welcoming: smiling, hugging me. During my time at GVP, I became very good at reading English, and cherished singing in music class. I really loved this school.

It’s not easy to be a refugee, you go through a lot. I wish people knew that they should not judge somebody because they don’t know what they’re going through.

Benedith graduated from GVP in 2021 and is currently attending Clarkston High School. After graduation she plans to attend college and hopes to become a business owner and CEO.