Stories of Change

Patrick and his family

A Journey to Permanent Home and Education

“He’s never been to school,” Patrick’s family members shared about him. At eight years of age, Patrick has spent all of his life in a state of limbo with no access to formal education, let alone security or a sense of permanence. The son of Congolese parents and baby brother to three older siblings, he was born and raised in a refugee camp in Burundi. Though it is one of the poorest countries in the world, it was in Burundi that his parents found refuge as they fled violence and the fear of persecution in their native land. In total, Patrick’s family lived in that refugee camp for 18 years–nearly two decades of uncertainty, waiting and extremely limited resources.  

 On September 23, 2023, Patrick and his five family members arrived in Columbus, Ohio. Just one week later, they moved into their permanent housing, a recently renovated three-bedroom home in a safe neighborhood in south Columbus with monthly rent that is $300 under the market average. Patrick is now home for the first time in his life.  

 With the safety and security that permanent housing brings, Patrick and his family are now able to pursue self-sufficiency and successful integration into the community. He has learned to take the bus from his home to school, where he is learning English and making friends. His older sister has also learned to take the bus to her new high school. His adult brothers and father are beginning to navigate public transportation independently to their current work assignments, where they are taking English classes and job readiness courses. 

CWS partners with more than 30 local organizations, like CRIS Ohio, to expand our services assisting refugees and immigrants throughout the United States. Learn more about CWS’ U.S. resettlement work here.