Landry’s Story, Uganda
I met Landry as we both sought shelter from a rain squall that had blown away marquees and scattered viewers at a concert at Nakivale refugee camp in Uganda in 2011.
We were all huddled together in the recreational building next to the new Computer Technology Access Centre (CTA), the opening of which the concert had been celebrating.
The visit to Nakivale had been part of a ‘charity challenge’ through Australia for UNHCR, but as a journalist I was also eager to hear the personal experiences of the refugees and took advantage of being separated from my group to talk to some of the people living at the camp.
Congolese refugee Landry Mugisha had performed at the concert with his hip-hop dance group – Wise 4ever Crew – and was keen to share his story. He was born and raised in Goma, North Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has undergone massive unrest ever since 2004, as conflict between the DRC military and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda have escalated.
In 2011 he had already been in the refugee camp for four years. He had been forced to flee with his family when the Civil War escalated and after his father had been tragically killed in the fighting.
“We didn’t only lose my dad, but we also lost everything we owned. We had a shop and it was robbed and burnt down. We had nothing left to go back for, that’s why we left,” he said.
At that stage he was hoping to be resettled soon, and when I mentioned living in Australia he was keen.
“If god is willing,” he said.
Landry is now 22 and through Facebook I was able to discover his story had a happy ending. After moving to the US in 2012, he is now studying civil engineering and hopes to transfer to North Carolina State University this year after two years at a local technical college. “I live with my mum and sister. I’m a full time sophomore, doing civil engineering and I work 30 hours per week at my school’s bookstore,” he said via Facebook.
For now, Landry is focussed on his studies and is planning his participation in North Carolina State University’s study abroad program. “I’m actually going to Paris in January 2015 through the study abroad program and I will stay there till mid-May 2015. Until then (graduation), I’m only trying to live like any other American college boy,” he says.
by Penny Pryor, Australia
posted: Wednesday, 18th June, 2014