Stories of Change
Father to see his child for the first time
Megan Shephard, CWS Greensboro
In 1996, Mutoni along with her parents and siblings fled the Democratic Republic of Congo. They settled in a refugee camp in Rwanda. Despite the harsh circumstances within the camp, Mutoni met and married a Congolese man named Innocent. Together they had their first child.
After living in the camp for 20 years, Mutoni received notice that she along with her parents, son, and siblings were approved to resettle in North Carolina. Unfortunately, her husband’s case was still pending. Like many refugee families, Mutoni and her husband decided that she should go ahead and travel to the United States with the hope that he would be able to follow shortly. That was three years ago.
Soon after Mutoni and her family arrived in 2016, she completed an Affadavit of Relationship (AOR). AORs are special legal documents that refugee resettlement agencies can submit to help reunite families. Each year, CWS submits AORs for any newly-arrived refugee who hopes to reunite with family, but the process still can take several years.
Over the past three years, Mutoni and her children have talked with her husband regularly over Whatsapp. When the children ask about their father, she tells them, “It is a process. He is going to come soon and join, but it is a process.” Mutoni arrived in Greensboro, North Carolina pregnant with her second child. Born in the United States, Mutoni’s youngest has only ever seen her father over Whatsapp.
Recently, CWS learned that Innocent was approved to resettle in Greensboro through CWS. Although a travel date has not yet been set, a case worker called Mutoni to share the good news.
Mutoni said, “I was so happy [when I heard]. I wouldn’t be able to explain. It’s been such a long time, a long process.”
More than half of the refugees whom Church World Service Greensboro are welcoming are reuniting with family already living in Greensboro. We celebrate with those seeing family again, and we hope with those who are still waiting to see husbands, children, parents, and siblings.
Photo credit: Caritas, Mahama Refugee camp in Rwanda