Dzaleka Refugee Camp, 6 December 2016 — Eureka left the Democratic Republic of the Congo with her son after her husband, a journalist, was killed for political reasons. She's now a refugee here in Dzaleka, where a Jesuit Refugee Service training course provided new skills and hopes for her future. She is able to provide for her son and give him a better future.
Here in her own words is Eureka's story:
My name is Eureka and I come from the capital city, Kinshasa, of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). My childhood was really nice. I remember being surrounded by the love of my family. I also had lots of friends. The happiest memory of my life as a child in DRC was when I went with my father to watch football games. We were huge fans of the Kinshasa team. Those were days of great happiness. There was food and cheering, especially when the team won. I still love soccer so much.
I attended high school and got a diploma in accounting. Life was good. I met a good guy and we got married. In 2011 our son was born. I named him after my favorite soccer player, Messi, the great Argentinian champion.
Peace was suddenly shattered one day. My husband was a political activist. As I was in the kitchen preparing dinner one evening, I heard gunshots. When my husband didn't come home, I started worrying that something terrible happened to him. In fact, I never saw my husband again after that day. People told me he was captured and shot. I am not really sure if he's dead or alive. I never saw his corpse.
After my husband's disappearance, I understood that DRC was not a safe place for me and my son anymore, I decided to leave. Fleeing was not easy, nor short. With no money we had to travel by any means we could find. We walked, got a lift from different people, and traveled in trucks. We ate and slept whatever and wherever was offered to us by good Samaritans along the way. But there were not only good Samaritans, there were also bad guys. I was sexually abused. I was burned all over my body, including my head and face when my abusers threw hot coffee on me during the assault.
I felt totally helpless when we finally arrived in the Dzaleka camp. After such a terrible trip, I arrived in a country where they only spoke English, a language I did not know. Helpless and vulnerable are two feelings that still overwhelm me at times, especially when I look at my condition today, compared to what I had—the happiness I felt in my own country. Here I am a poor widow with a young child to take care of, no job, and no real perspective for the future. Sometimes I feel the best part of my life is gone, and it won't come back no more.
My son is what keeps me alive. I want a better life for him, a good education and a future as a soccer player. Sometimes we argue because he already told me he wants to be a doctor when he grows up. Messi is my only love now. He's my greatest comfort, my joy and my emotional support.
Recently, I must say that I found some hope and I am feeling better since I started the JRS training as an electro auto-mechanic. It is good to have a place to go, somewhere where I can learn together with other people. I must admit that, as strange as it can sound, coming from a woman—I do like working with engines and car. It is real. It is practical. I like it better than accounting school.
It gives me hope to have a good job in the future. The training is giving me new energy and a place where I can socialize and somehow forget about my past and my condition as a refugee.
The Jesuit Refugee Service Global Education Initiative seeks to strengthen education projects by increasing school attendance, improving the overall quality of education, and increasing the employability of refugees. You can support refugee education in Malawi and around the world. Please click here to make a secure online donation today. Thank you for providing refugee education and investing in peace.