Feb. 6, 2017 (GIN) – After years in a refugee camp under assault by rebel gunmen, a Congolese family this week found themselves passing through U.S. customs and on to safety and a better life, thanks to the work of a church-based organization that would bring them to upstate New York.
The hopes and dreams of the family of six were nearly derailed when a presidential order came down that came to be called the “Muslim ban.” Initially seven Muslim-majority countries were named in the order preventing their entry into the country. But it soon became apparent that green card holders, valid visa holders and even diplomats from foreign countries were being detained or sent back under the edict in violation of their civil rights under the constitution and human rights under the Geneva conventions.
Church World Service (CWS) is one of nine resettlement agencies contracting with the State Department. Some 872 refugees have been approved for resettlement.
Before his departure, Masumbuko had become the director of the nursing department at a hospital, which made him a target for rebel groups, he said.
One week after gunmen entered his house looking for him, he moved his family to Malawi.
After clearing customs, Masumbuko, 38, thanked God for bringing him safely with his wife, Roza, two daughters, Nathalie, 20, and Kwizi, who turns 13 on Wednesday; and their 8-year-old son, Leo. (In light of threats, the family’s surname and exact place of residence are being withheld)
In addition to CWS, some 1,200 volunteers from 30 organizations, Vassar Temple, Masjid al-Noor Mosque and seven local colleges, are supporting the resettlement effort in Hudson Valley, where Christ Episcopal Church and Vassar College — both in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. — are also located. The Mid-Hudson Refugee Solidarity Alliance was the principal partner in the resettlement effort.