I’ve been working to produce a video piece that illustrates the post-resettlement life of a young Congolese refugee, who arrived in Massachusetts last August. I found quite quickly, however, that it was impossible to tell his story without understanding what he’d been through – in the DRC and in his almost decade-long stay at a refugee camp in Tanzania.
While researching the piece, I’ve learned a lot about the life of Congolese refugees waiting for resettlement in camps. Like the fact that there are over 3 million Congolese refugees and internally displaced around the world. And the fact refugees live in camps an average of 17 years before resettlement. Or the fact that less than one percent of the world’s refugees are lucky enough to get resettled at all.
A recent article from AllAfrica.com caught my eye, about how refugees in the Mugunga 3 refugee camp in eastern DRC would rather work than be charity cases. I’ve seen that sentiment firsthand, with the subject of my video documentary. The subject of my video, a 26 year old man named Issa, expressed pride in the jobs he held in his camp. “I am strong at any work,” Issa told me. “I can work at anything. Usually men like me who have been through my experience, we are able to do anything, to use our hands to survive and do any job.