Interview for

Mr. K.

9/7/2020

Interviewed By:

Alice McGuinness

Date Interviewed:

Audio Recording of Interview
00:00 / 1:25:34
Summary

A refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr. K describes his family’s experience in Kenya before eventually resettling in New Haven, Connecticut. He recounts the threat to his family’s safety in Kenya, including kidnappings of family members, and the safety protocols they needed to follow prior to relocating to the U.S., as well as the new community they found in New Haven.

Transcript
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Additional Notes
Outline

Narrator: Mr. K

Date: 9/7/20

Location: Old Lyme, CT


Content Warning: Family separation.

Summary: Mr. K speaks of the struggles that he and his family faced prior to resettlement.

Topics: Survival, Occupation, Family, Tragedy, Journey, Family Separation, Resettlement Organization, Faith Community, Pandemic, Acculturation, Gratitude


Outline

Section 1: 00:00:03

  • Family - Mr. K and his family were resettled in Connecticut because of a relative living in the state.

  • Journey - After fleeing the DRC, Mr. K’s family had to live in a refugee camp because of the cost of living in Nairobi. Mr. K discussed the arduous process of registration and his sorrow at the camp’s conditions.

Section 2: 00:13:10

  • Journey, Survival - When Mr. K discovered his family’s meager ration sizes, they began trading with other residents of the camp. His family grew accustomed to the weekly routine, which rotated around announcement of case statuses and ration distribution.

  • Children - At the beginning, Mr. K allowed his children to believe they were on a fun camping trip.

  • Journey, Occupation - Since Mr. K’s background was in law, he was recruited to help with peacebuilding efforts between communities in the refugee camp.

Section 3: 00:25:08

  • Journey, Survival - Mr. K’s life was threatened, so he and his family were sent into protection in Nairobi. This was shortly after the Westgate Shopping Mall attack in Nairobi, so the Kenyan government asked all urban refugees to return to refugee camps.

  • Family, Tragedy - Around Christmas, Mr. K’s brother-in-law and son went missing while attending church. Although it was dangerous to chance revealing his identity, Mr. K approached the police. Thankfully, the police officer was compassionate and registered the case under an alternative name. The police needed confirmation from the Red Cross and the UNHCR for the report.

Section 4: 00:36:01

  • Journey - Mr. K’s family was disallowed from remaining in one place for more than six months at a time. They were finally granted official refugee status and given documents to legally live in Kenya, which was a huge relief and allowed his children to begin school.

  • Family, Tragedy - One day, Mr. K was sent a picture of his children with a threat, referring to the kidnapping of his son and brother-in-law. From this point forward, Mr. K and his family lived in a safe house, where they eventually received notice that they would begin the process of being resettled in the United States.

Section 5: 00:45:09

  • Journey - Mr. K’s family spent six months preparing to leave for the US. They could only leave the safe house by secure car, sent by Amnesty International, which added stress to the process, as they could be called at a moment’s notice for a medical exam or interview.

  • Journey - Finally, when Mr. K’s family was at their departure orientation, he received a call saying they had not been granted permission to exit because their file hadn’t been processed. When Mr. K showed up at the office, an employee discovered their file had been mistakenly left behind.

Section 6: 00:56:13

  • Journey - After rushing to get the paperwork in order and reschedule their flight, Mr. K’s family was able to switch air carriers and get a flight not too far after their original date of departure.

  • Journey, Family Separation - As Mr. K left for the airport, he felt bittersweet. He was glad to bring most of his children to safety, but he was devastated that they had not located his son and brother-in-law.

Section 7: 1:05:49

  • Arrival - When Mr. K and his arrived at their new home in Connecticut, they were moved by the Congolese food that was prepared for them.

  • Acculturation, Resettlement Organization, Faith Community - As an ambassador for IRIS, the organization that resettled the family, Mr. K spoke about his experience, including at faith communities. When he spoke with a congregation leader about the violence in his family’s new neighborhood in New Haven, Mr. K and his family were able to stay at a home sponsored by the congregation in a small town. Mr. K was grateful for his new, natural surroundings.

Section 8: 1:14:02

  • Faith Community - Since their arrival, the congregation has helped Mr. K’s family adjust and allowed them to remain in the home until his children graduate from the town’s schools.

  • Covid-19 - The pandemic has been a source of fear and worry for Mr. K, especially since he must go inside a building for work.

  • Acculturation - Mr. K has been moved by the diversity of his community college classrooms.

  • Gratitude - Mr. K expressed that although he has experienced great loss, he is overwhelmingly grateful to live in the United States and hopes to pay this forward by serving as a volunteer firefighter and becoming a psychologist.