Meet Bienfait

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Bienfait, whose parents fled DR Congo, was born in Tanzania, but grew up in Burundi where his parents fled when he was a toddler. Like so many of the youth we’ve worked with, he treasures memories of playing outside with many friends: soccer with bare feet, kites, fun at a big lake, frogs jumping! And yes, it was sunny all the time! Resettling to Rhode Island when he was 9 involved adjusting expectations. He’d been told it was “the best place in the world.” But third grade without knowing English is hard. A tiny apartment for a family of 7...

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Meet Hayle

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At 16, Hayle is the youngest in our new cohort of youth trainees. He arrived in the US from Ethiopia when he was 2, so all his childhood memories are from right here. Still history and culture are important to him and he continues to learn Kunama, an ancient indigenous language of Eritrea. Hayle’s energy reaches straight through a computer screen—a mixture of respect, kindness, and eagerness to understand this moment in history. He’s been learning about civil rights and black history in school. Despite his own family’s long journey to “The Land of the Free,” they have encountered police...

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Meet Mbeleci

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Mbeleci doesn’t have any direct memories of her native Congo. She grew up, went to school, got married, and had her four children in the Nyarugusu Refugee camp before she was resettled in December, 2018. She is now 24. In the camp, two weeks of food rations sometimes needed to last for a month. Her family supplemented by growing beans, yams and corn. Cooking was done over a campfire. At times there was no clean water. But she has good memories of going to school with caring teachers and wonderful days at the market with her mother. She said living...

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Meet Ghebreselasie

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Ghebreselasie, or Kentiba to friends, beams when he talks of freedom: freedom to get on a bus and not be stopped. To be with his family. He doesn’t take things for granted. Kentiba grew up in Keren, Eritrea. A happy childhood in a loving family: school, friends, soccer, helping with the family business. But then his mother, fearing her children’s conscription into the army of a dictator, fled to Sudan and requested asylum. She was resettled in the US in 2013. Kentiba’s siblings joined her in 2016. For Kentiba it was too late to avoid the army. But the oppression...

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Meet Pio

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Born in Bikuvu, DRCongo, Pio’s family fled to Thailand when he was 5. He has fond, vivid memories of the great weather, crazy traffic, and good friends at the International School in Bangkok during the years that his family was seeking permanent refuge. Pio’s first experience entering fourth grade in RI was of being bullied, then hiding it from his parents so they wouldn’t worry. The next year he moved to San Miguel where he felt safe to enjoy school again. This year he is a Junior, involved in student council, on a diversity committee, and on the soccer team....

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Meet James

Meggean Ward 1 comment

James was 11 when he left Maryland, Liberia to stay with his aunt in a refugee camp in Cote d’Ivoire. He arrived in RI in November of 2019 along with his aunt, grandma, uncle and cousin. His parents are still in Liberia. At first he thought Rhode Island was brutally cold. But the next day the resettlement agency dropped off a winter coat and the apartment heat was turned on. Phew! James was really looking forward to school since schools in the camp were not good. Sadly, he missed the age cut off for high school so he’s studying for...

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