Venantie was resettled in Nashville in 2016 after spending nearly 20 years in a refugee camp near Rwanda. She arrived with two of her sons and their families, leaving four of her children behind in the refugee camp with hopes that they would arrive soon afterwards.
For Venantie, Nashville was a strikingly different place than the “very bad” refugee camps she’d spent so much time in. She and her family no longer had to worry about where they’d find food or firewood. Venantie finally had access to medicine and hospital care, and she arrived in the United State with a furnished apartment waiting for her and her family. For the first time since fleeing the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1996 after her house was burned down in civil war (the fire tragically killed two of her children, and Venantie herself was badly injured), she did not need to fear for her life.
Venantie says that her biggest hope is that she will be able to see her children and grandchildren receive educations. Perhaps she will be able to go to school as well. She and her son would like to tell their new neighbors in the United States that “Refugees are just like [any] other people,” and they can make a big difference “if given the chance.”