Wausau, Wisconsin — On January 19, a Congolese family arrived at the Wausau Central from a refugee camp in Zambia, Africa. The family, consisting of a couple and their four children, lived in a refugee camp for decades. All of the four children were born in the camp. The oldest is 12.
The resettlement of refugees is a family affair for the MCC, ECDC’s branch office in Wisconsin.
Dr. Teferra, the President of ECDC, joined the welcoming team at the airport, along with MCC staff members and their families. Also, two other refugees MCC had resettled from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gulin Kabwita and Patrick Kabangu, were there to meet the family and welcome them to their new home.
The arriving family is related to Gulin Kabwita, who had arranged for a meal to be cooked to welcome the newcomers. The couple and their five children were happy to be on U.S. soil, though it was freezing when they arrived. But MCC staff had winter jackets ready for them.
It was striking that the family had traveled light, as they only had a few belongings after living in a refugee camp for decades. They were grateful for the warm welcome they received. The family hoped to start a new life, learn English, and set life goals.
The family will be staying in a home secured by the MCC. The MCC will work to ensure that the family is on their feet, their children are enrolled in school, and they begin English classes. They are expected to pay back their airfare within six months. Gulin Kabwita will also help them acclimate to their new home.
I asked the parents how they felt about the snow. “It is beautiful,” the mother said in English. The husband said he wanted to touch the snow, and they both stooped down to take small scoops.
That was one first experience. There are many more firsts in store for this family.
It was a great day to start the 1st Anniversary celebration of ECDC’s Multicultural Community Center and a reminder of why ECDC was established 40 years ago. (Lullit Paulos, ECDC)
First of many new experiences to come!