In the "country of the generous people"

Janvier Tuyishime fled his native Rwanda in 1999 and eventually came to live at Krisan Refugee Camp in Ghana's Western Region. In 2009, his application to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program was processed by the Church World Service Overseas Processing Entity in Accra, Ghana, and he was approved for resettlement to the United States.

Janvier Tuyishime
Janvier Tuyishime at work in Indianapolis.
Photo: Mike Fender for U.S. State Department

By Amanda Gordon and Carol Fouke-Mpoyo

Our story begins with Janvier Tuyishime.  Tuyishime fled his native Rwanda in 1999 and eventually came to live at Krisan Refugee Camp in Ghana’s Western Region.  In 2009, his application to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program was processed by the Church World Service Overseas Processing Entity in Accra, Ghana (now part of the "CWS Resettlement Support Center" in Nairobi, Kenya), and he was approved for resettlement to the United States.

From the very day he arrived March 26, 2009 up to now, Tuyishime has been sharing generously of his own experiences and resources in appreciation for CWS and “the nation that welcomed me with love and helped me rebuild my life with dignity.”

He has maintained close contact with CWS staff and partners in New York and Accra, regularly emailing news and reflections about the difficulties and joys involved in resettling to a new country.  Click here for excerpts from Tuyishime’s “refugee journal.”

Church World Service resettled Tuyishime to Indianapolis, Ind., where he was received by CWS affiliate Exodus Refugee Immigration.  He enrolled in English classes and took a job working for a landscaping company.  But the work brought back the painful tendonitis from an arm injury he had suffered 10 years before, and he had to leave the job.

That setback was short lived.  Tuyishime undertook training to become a certified nursing assistant, and since February 2010 has been working for United Home Healthcare as a home health aide. 

Refugee from Rwanda now a CWS “Shepherd of Hope”

Soon he was earning enough to pay all his bills and to join the CWS “Shepherd of Hope” monthly giving program.  In addition, he made a special $100 contribution to CWS OPE/Accra “to support the great humanitarian mission” of resettling African refugees.

“That gesture is from my heart and I am proud to do it,” he said.  “I am resettled in the country of the generous people.  I have to identify myself with them and to participate with them as much as I can.”

Inspired by Tuyishime’s positive attitude, enthusiasm, and success through hard work, OPE/Accra decided to use his donation to help another refugee family from Krisan Refugee Camp as the family prepared for its own journey to the United States.   

Tira family
The Tira family, with a copy of the article "Resettled in the Country of the Generous People."
Photo: Katie White

Enter Ibrahim Tira, his wife and their five children (pictured), who had arrived in Ghana from conflict-torn Darfur, Sudan, in 2004, and spent six years in Krisan Camp hoping to find a durable solution to their plight.  This spring, the Tira family was finally cleared to resettle to the United States.  

Before the Tiras left for their new home in Erie, Pa., OPE/Accra presented them with some “Going to America” supplies purchased with Janvier Tuyishime’s donation.  Each of the children was provided with a backpack and basic school supplies, toiletries were provided for the entire family, and some additional household goods were donated.  

OPE/Accra explained where the donation had come from and what it was intended for.  Tuyishime’s photo was shared with the Tiras, who immediately recognized him as a former campmate and friend.  

While cleaning up for the day, one of the sons, Ali, followed Tuyishime’s example of gratitude.  He said he “was so very grateful to OPE and Janvier,” and insisted on writing a thank you card.  

Refugees from Darfur, Sudan, join CWS CROP Hunger Walk in Erie

The story does not end there.

This fall, members of the Tira family made one of their own contributions to others when they participated in the Erie CROP Hunger Walk, raising nearly $200 for CWS work to fight hunger in Erie and around the world.

“Katie White is the Community Outreach Director of the International Institute of Erie (IIE), which welcomed the Tira family to Erie," said Kathleen Clark of Pittsburgh, Pa., an associate director in CWS’s Greater Mid-Atlantic Region.  “Every year, she invites refugees to participate in the Walk as a way to learn about volunteerism and raise money to fight hunger a problem refugees are familiar with.”

September 26, the day of the CROP Hunger Walk, dawned cold and with pouring rain.  White would have picked the Tiras up if she had known they were coming, but she didn’t.  They just showed up soaking wet, after walking three miles from their home to the Walk pickup point.  

“Katie went into the IIE’s back room, where she found a box with … seven raincoats!  Six fit perfectly, and the seventh fit well enough.  Its sleeves were just a little long for the youngest boy,” Clark recounted.

The Tiras completed the Walk, and White gave them a lift home.  A few days later, White and Clark stopped by the house together with a framed certificate of thanks for participating in the Walk, a mug with a photo on it that White had taken of the family at the Walk, and a copy of the pop-up book America the Beautiful.

“We sat and read the book to them, and sang the first verse to them,” Clark said.  “We asked if they had a song for us, and they sang us the Sudanese anthem.  Then they got out their photo album, showed us pictures and told us their story.”

Editor’s note:  In mid-2010, CWS/Accra’s responsibilities for case processing and cultural orientation for U.S. refugee program applicants in Western and Central Africa were subsumed by the CWS-administered OPE/Nairobi, which now handles these functions for all of sub-Saharan Africa.

 

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