In this article, Nova Musafiri, a refugee who settled in Canada, tells his story.
I left my country in April 1993 because of security issues: students were arrested, beaten to death and tortured because of a dictatorial regime, which reigned for over 30 years. I did not have a choice, but had to escape in order to save my life.
I went to Kenya to seek protection and I was accepted as an asylum-seeker and refugee under the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In Kenya, refugees are not allowed to stay in the capital city, move freely within the country, work, study, or do business. I was sent to live in a desert refugee camp called Kakuma near the southern Sudanese border. Life in the camp was too difficult– no shelter, not enough water, not enough food to eat, the sun was 104 to 117 degrees Fahrenheit. Nothing could be grown because it was a desert with sand everywhere, lots of wind and no trees. The camp was full of poisonous scorpions and snakes, but God’s protection was always there for me. I stayed there from 1993 to December 2008.
The wars, conflicts, and killing of innocent people are caused by politicians who are well protected. Innocent refugees pay the price. Despite a difficult life in a refugee camp, God did not leave me alone, he directed me to be part of Grace Communion International (WCG) in 2002. I decided to start a church under the mandate of WCG and through this church we got prayer support from our church leaders around the world, particularly in the UK, Nairobi, and Canada. God connected us with some of his people.
James Henderson and his wife decided to risk their lives and visit us in Kakuma camp. It was not easy for them to come into a desert area and undergo the harsh life in the camp, but because of the love of Christ they decided to visit despite the security issues in and around the camp. Many refugees were killed in the camp by armed people. Others died from malnutrition, and children suffered from difficult sicknesses due to lack of proper medical treatment.
When I was in a refugee camp, I did not have any hope, any future, and did not know what would happen to my life since there was no peace in my country and I could not go back. But God knew, and by his grace I was chosen out of 70,000 refugees to come to Canada as a permanent resident. I did so in December 2008 along with my wife and one child.
Life in Canada was a shock to me with its new culture, new food, different weather, and with its public transportation system in Ottawa on strike; but the support and love we received from the GCI members in Ottawa was beyond our understanding. The dedicated people of God, with God’s love, helped us settle in Canada. Small contributions made a big impact; thank you GCI-Ottawa for your support!
Living in Canada has changed my families’ life. We can move freely, I can work, and we have peace. Helping a refugee get out of the refugee life is an unforgettable gift to someone’s life. Around 300 GCI church members are still in the Kakuma refugee camp—they have been living there since 1996 with no hope of getting out.
May God grant his mercy and protection to the refugees of the world.