Q&A with Nicole Kabale Ruhimbasa
Nicole Kabale Ruhimbasa was born in Bukavu, DRC, Congo, and came to the US in August 2016. Before she came to America she stayed in a refugee camp in Uganda for six years after fleeing Congo and the genocide that killed her father and mother. She has 4 children and 20 grandchildren.
What was your occupation in Congo and Uganda?
While staying in a refugees camp in Uganda I received training in sewing, counseling, peer support methodology, ESL, and crafts. I volunteered to serve other refugees and counseled several women in my camp who experienced trauma and rape during the genocide in Congo.
Who came with you to the US?
A daughter and granddaughter. Another daughter immigrated with her husband and nine children.
Who stayed behind?
Many family members and friends remain in Congo.
When you arrived in the US, did you know English? What languages do you speak?
I spoke a little English. I also speak Swahili, Lingala, Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, and French.
What surprised you about the US?
The freedom and respect of the law that the people enjoy here. Nobody persecutes you. You are free to work and walk in the neighborhood without anybody bothering you. You have no fear.
What are some of the more difficult parts about immigrating to and living in the US?
Language, navigating the systems, and going through thorough processing of identity.
What do you miss most about the Congo and Uganda?
When you migrate, you leave everything including family and friends. You will always miss them.
What helped you most when you arrived?
What helped me navigate America was my little bit of learned English, the life skills training I got in the refugee camp, my faith in Christ, and the [MEMNT] Karibu church fellowship I enjoy at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church.
What do you like about living in the US?
I like so many things about my life in America. I like the friendliness and kindness of the people, the families, and the availability of everything.
How were you introduced to Pastor Solomon Yadessa and the MEMNT?
I was first introduced to Pastor Solomon through his wife Senait, who I met at a sewing class where she served. Senait invited me to Karibu fellowship at Our Redeemer, where I met other Congolese families attending the Swahili/English service led by Pastor Solomon.
What is your involvement with the MEMNT and which programs and services have been the most helpful?
I attend worship services. I was confirmed in September 2020. I am thankful to the members of Our Redeemer who supported me financially when I was sick for four months and lost my job. Munguu Mubariki (God bless you)!
How was your adjustment to American culture?
Learning English and communicating was difficult in America with the different accent.
How difficult was it to find employment?
Finding employment became difficult after the resettling organization left us to be independent. I worked at La Madeline for four years and then another company until I became sick.
Do you plan to return to your native home or stay in the US?
I plan to apply for my son to reunite with me in America.
I ask for your prayers and want to thank all who have embraced me as their sister in Christ. I also thank Pastor Solomon, who visits my family and is there whenever we need him.