Africa is the most corrupt continent on the planet. The plight of a refugee in Africa is seldom on the mind of the typical American. We are busy living our lives of freedom, running the kids to after-school activities, dreaming of our next sports car or planning our next vacation. I might consider myself willing to help others but I was certainly never ever thinking about genocide, civil war or exile in Africa. It was so unrelatable to my middle-class American life. Until Jerry connected with me on Facebook.
Jerry reached out like any professional colleague after viewing my profile as a storyteller wanting me to document the progress of the youth in his entrepreneurship program. Upon closer investigation, I realized he lived in Uganda. The only reason I knew that Uganda is in Africa is because my friend Justin Williams and family serve there as Christian Missionaries. All I knew about Uganda is that I NEVER wanted to go there.
The investigative journalist in me kicked in and I spent months learning first-hand the horrors of life as a refugee. Jerry has been in exile for eleven years. And why should we care? Jerry and millions like him are our Brothers and Sisters in Christ. They are suffering. We CAN make a life-altering impact. So can our elected officials.
Richest and Most Corrupt Place on Earth
Jerry and his brother Jonathan are from Democratic Republic of Congo. DR Congo is the richest land on earth belonging to 78 million Congolese people, but the natural treasure buried beneath the earth has been hijacked by corrupt madmen engorged with greed fueled by bloodshed. Ludicrously rich in gold, diamonds and the much sought after Coltan, (used in every cell phone and computer throughout the world) are the natural resources at the root of these profit-oriented massacres.
These treasures have been confiscated by morally-challenged, rebel commanders. The world keeps the conflict going because they buy gold, diamonds and Coltan from this terrorist group of predators who thrive on killing, torture and vicious sadistic rape. Traumatized children become fresh recruits easily brainwashed and in endless supply to carry out the rampage. The Aids epidemic is fueled by HIV infected madmen impregnating the women as they rape and torture them. Circles of violence with no end in sight.
Good Guys in the Midst of Chaos
In the crossfire of these hoodlum monsters and corrupt government officials is Jerry and his brother Jonathan. Born to a wealthy family, Jerry and Jonathan were raised by Esther, a Christian woman who was a nurse and she made sure her children were college educated and loved Jesus. Her youngest son Jerry was in his second year of college when life changed in an instant. Esther discovered her husband fathered two sons who joined with corrupt government officials to take the wealth of Esther’s family by murdering her sons. They burned down the house, and with bullets flying, killed as many as they could while raping and torturing the women including Jerry’s mother Esther. It is unknown who is dead and who escaped. Jerry escaped and eleven years later Jonathan learned Jerry was alive from the documentary a storyteller in Indiana wrote and posted on Facebook. See Jerry’s Story
Suspended in Time
Jerry has refugee status. Vaira Vike-Freiberga, First Woman President of Latvia and former refugee describes the life of a refugee. “In a refugee camp you are living outside of space and of time, you have no roots, you have no past, you don’t know whether you have a future. You have no rights, you have no voice, you have nothing to participate in, you are not a citizen, you have no papers, sometimes you haven’t even got your name. You have to pinch yourself to remind yourself that yes, I am alive, I am me, I am a human being, I am a person.”
God’s Hand Is Clear Even in Exile
Jerry is educated. Through exceptional fortitude and a miraculous provision of God, Jerry obtained a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology while in exile. A missionary who worked with Jerry in Uganda paid for his education. Jerry cannot get a job in Uganda as his status of refugee eliminates him from consideration. He has a family to support.
Basic Human Needs
Like everyone, he needs a home to live in, he needs food to feed his wife and children and he needs funds to educated his children. School is not free. There is no protection as a refugee. Jerry has had relatives “disappear” while in refuge and there is no help from the police. Jerry has taken on an orphaned girl who was a child of rape, who never met her mother, whose aunt and uncle just disappeared one day. Jerry has taken her in along with his half-sister and he has four young children of his own plus his wife.
Denied Work Because He is a Refugee
Jerry is an advocate and community organizer. He founded the equivalent of a non-profit to help the refugee youth learn entrepreneurial skills. The United Nations agency that is in charge of refugees around the world awarded Jerry’s organization a sizeable grant but it ran out after two years. This agency represents to the world their humanitarian efforts, but NBC news has done their own investigative reporting and documented countless corruption schemes by the UN agency in charge of all refugees worldwide. They are just as corrupt as the madmen who are leading the profitable criminal massacres.
Jerry occasionally works an odd job as a translator or field interviewer but life is brutally hard. His children could not complete their school semester as money ran out. His rent of $150 per month in a two-room flat was two months past due. He is stuck. He is well qualified, hard working yet his current status as a refugee exiles him to a haunting limbo. Only through the grace of God and Jerry’s endearing personality does he get occasional help.
Resettlement at Historic Low
He is eligible for resettlement to the United States because he has spent the required ten years in exile. But he cannot come because the US has drastically cut the number of refugees it is welcoming to a mere 30,000, the lowest level in US History. Even more upsetting is that last year, the administration resettled less than half of their then historic low 45,000 goal. Our doors have always been open to people fleeing persecution, injustice and war. Closing our doors creates an uncertain future for millions of refugees across the globe.
United States Adds to the Crisis
Estimates project the United States will admit only 21,000 by the current 2018 program year that ends September 30th, 2019. If the Administration continues to welcome refugees at the current pace, only 15,000 refugees will be admitted in 2019, a staggering lapse for this once impactful program that welcomed nearly 85,000 refugees just two years ago. While global refugee numbers have increased to more than 25.4 million, America’s response has been to offer hope to fewer and fewer people in their time of need. Rather than lead on resettlement and relief efforts, the Administration has chosen to be part of the crisis by declaring war on refugees during the largest human displacement since WWII. We can and we must do more to welcome the world’s most vulnerable people.
Forgotten in Exile
So Jerry is forced to sit and wait. He has no citizenship. He has no papers. He is a man without a country. He has no protection. He has no food. He has no education for his children. He has a roof over his head only if he can scrape together $150 in a month in a country where there is no work because of his refugee status. Surely our churches could come to the aid of Christian families like Jerry.
When A Refugee Becomes Family
Jerry and his family have become my family. See story She is Your Grandmother. Jerry deeply loves his wife, his four children, his half-sister and his orphan daughter. He has hopes and dreams the same as you and me. He longs for freedom. He desires to work to provide for his family. He dreams of further education to obtain a Master’s degree in Conflict Resolution in order to make a lasting difference in the world.
Jonathan’s story – Another sort of hell
Jonathan’s story is a little different. When he escaped the bullets flying and the burning house, he escaped to the bush and later found work in a mining operation. He has been able to work the last 11 years that his brother Jerry has been in exile as a refugee. The same corrupt government officials and the bastard sons of his father finally found Jonathan and terrorized the mining operation killing some and kidnapping others plus set fire as well. Again Jonathan escaped with only his life.
The rebels have taken over his farm in Congo where he raised a multitude of animals. The rebels fed the troops with Jonathan’s livelihood. Jonathan lost his job and has been on the run ever since with his children and wife. The money has run out and these terrorist predators are closing in. He faces eviction and homelessness with zero resources in a few short days. He still has Congolese citizenship and a passport but he is prohibited from gaining a visa to immigrate to freedom.
Will We Look The Other Way?
Jonathan is a praying, Christian man just like his brother. He is highly skilled and educated Geologist. He is a hard worker. He knows four languages as does his brother. He would be harder working than many people who were born and raised in the US yet he will most likely die and his family killed unless he is given protection and provision.
Called to Help Our Brothers and Sisters in Christ
Surely the church could help support our Christian Brothers and Sisters. Even a retired American storyteller of limited means has chosen to work a little harder and give up a few things in order to help her African sons eat and have a roof over their heads but I cannot carry this load alone.
Are You Willing?
Evil will prevail if good men and women do nothing. Can you start with one family? Write to them using WhatsApp, give them hope and encouragement, send them some funds to survive, employ them virtually to contribute to their income. These people are smart, resourceful and willing. Are you willing to help?
Send This Story To Your Elected Officials
We must reach out to our administration. I personally voted for this administration, but I disagree with denying a safe harbor to those who are hardworking Christians who will do no harm and take no state benefits in order to live free and contribute to the American society.
I am willing to give two families a place to live and food to eat. They are willing to work hard. Shouldn’t they be allowed to come to the US under these circumstances and be free? Must I lose these two families I have grown to love as my own because of limbo, exile and politics? Can’t we keep these two families alive (and all those like them) while we petition our Administration for a humane solution?
Just A Thought
If we take the law-abiding refugees out of Africa, protect the women from being raped and stop that channel of Aids and children born of rape: If we refuse to buy gold, diamonds and Coltan from corrupt leaders in power; and If we render impotent the corrupt leaders of these brutal massacres; would the madness stop? Let’s try it and see what happens.
Please share this story. Please send it to your government officials.
Can you connect me with the President Trump or Vice President Pence?
Polly Riddell, writing as G. Polly Jordan is a freelance journalist connecting people through the stories they tell. She has become a human rights activist and has fallen in love with two Congolese families. Read the entire series at TheStoryTeller.net