These last several months have been hard. We have had to stand strong together to make it through, day by day, even when many of us couldn’t be physically near one another. During a time of such uncertainty and worry, it is so important to also celebrate and cherish moments of joy. Like the joys of a new born baby.
In early March, Leah Byogo arrived in the U.S. for the first time to resettle with her family here in Rhode Island. She had lived in a refugee resettlement camp for 22 years and has now finally been able to start a new life. She was seven months pregnant when she got on the plane with her husband and three other children. During the midst of the pandemic, her family settled into their new home, and she gave birth here in RI and named her precious baby girl Dorcas.
“Because of all the good things Dorcas International has done for us, I wished to name our daughter Dorcas. They helped us with everything. We were welcomed like Kings and Queens.”
Dorcas was one of a handful of babies born during the last few months, and we are so happy to welcome them all to our Dorcas International family!
Interview with Leah Byogo
Can you tell us about the refugee camp and what you did before you came to the U.S.?
“I was a social worker in Nyarugusu Refugee Camp in Tanzania for six years. I was working with women at risk, victims of rape and violence during the wartime. Many people needed help. We worked with a group of women from different countries, like Burundi and Congo for six months at a time, and then we would work with another group.” — Leah
*Leah worked with a variety of organizations that socially and economically empowered local women, specifically widows, young women, survivors of sexual assault and abuse, and single mothers.
“Currently my brother and cousins are still in the camp in Tanzania. I hope I can get help to bring them here in RI. Life in the refugee camp is not easy. There is not much to do and you cannot rely on anything. I was in the camp for 22 years, since I was 8 years old”. — Leah
When did you start the refugee resettlement process and how was your journey to the U.S.?
“Our Refugee application was approved in 2014. In 2016 we were accepted by the US Refugee Program and approved to come to RI. On February 22, 2020, we were scheduled to travel to United Stated. Then because of the pandemic outbreak, they delayed the travel for 2 weeks. We went through additional medical screenings. We arrived to RI on March 3, 2020.
A doctor accompanied us on the flight since I was 7 months pregnant. My husband looked after the three children on the plane. I want to thank Dorcas for the way they received us. We were welcomed like Kings and Queens.
If I compare our friends in other states, there is a big difference. They help us every day. When we decided to move from Central Falls to Providence, Dorcas International helped us with everything, because we could not do it ourselves. We are very, very thankful.” — Leah
What was it like to have a new baby during the pandemic outbreak?
“It was scary to come here during the coronavirus, because it was unusual for us. Dorcas International informed us from the first day how to protect ourselves. When I had to go to the hospital, my case manager and a community health worker coordinated the transportation to the hospital and arranged care for my family while I was in the hospital. Again, I am thankful to everyone who helped us during the pandemic outbreak.” — Leah
How is your daughter Dorcas? Why did you choose that name?
“She is doing well. We decided to name our newborn daughter Dorcas, because I traveled during my pregnancy, and I was hoping to deliver my child here in RI. When we arrived, I did not know whether it was a boy or a girl. When I went to the hospital, they told me it is a girl. Because of all the good things Dorcas International has done for us, I wished to name our daughter Dorcas.” — Leah
What do you need help with right now?
“We could always use diapers because I am not working right now. In addition, I need clothes for my other children. I want to start meeting other women in the community, look for a job, and practice English.” — Leah
Do you have a message that you would like to share with others?
“The message that I would like to share with other refugees, is not to forget about all the good things and help we receive when we first arrive. I am telling my friends and relatives in the refugee camp about the help we have received from the community in RI. I also tell refugees in Tanzania how I wish they can come to RI.” — Leah
To help mothers and families like Leah’s who have resettled here in RI, make a donation today!