Refugee Stories

Samira and Omer
Samira and Omer, a mother and son, were violently separated while fleeing civil war in Sudan in 2016. After their separation, Samira was unsure where Omer was or whether he had survived. Omer was just 15 years old at the time. Samira was resettled to Canada as a refugee, where… Read More
Imagine for a moment that you and your family are celebrating a loved one’s birthday, filled with joy and laughter. Then, suddenly, armed men intrude upon your gathering, threatening your lives, and changing everything in an instant. This is the harrowing reality Alice* and her sisters faced when… Read More
In the heart of Lake Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), there’s a small island called Idjwi. For Anthony*, this wasn’t just an island; it was his home. Anthony left Idjwi to pursue a career in healthcare, attending college near the capital of the… Read More
Mary, a resilient mother, had one simple wish: “I want a good life for my kids.” Unfortunately, this wish would prove difficult due to the violent conflict ravaging her home country of South Sudan. When war broke out between North and South Sudan, Mary and her… Read More
“At least I will become a light to my family, community, and everyone. If I tell you what the Economic Mobility Pathway means, it means life to us,” said Mark, a 27-year-old refugee from South Sudan. In the 1980s, Mark’s parents fled to Kenya, escaping the… Read More
Most days, Dieudonne wakes up early to begin shuttling passengers around the streets of Nairobi on his motorcycle. To provide for his family, he works as a “boda boda” driver (a motorcycle taxi). Today, he is able to pay rent, buy groceries, and pay for children’s school fees… Read More
Jean’s Story, EMPP – 2023
After spending more than 26 years as a refugee in Nairobi, Kenya, Jean, a professional nurse, permanently relocated to Canada through the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP) in June 2023. This program connects refugees to job opportunities that allow them to relocate to a safe, new country. RefugePoint… Read More
Khadija: “As a mother, I am happy”
As a child, Khadija* was forced to flee her home in Somalia to escape a forced marriage. She never had a chance to pursue her education. Now that she is a mother of three, Khadija’s greatest dream is that her children receive an education.  “I don’t… Read More
After fleeing war in her home country of Ethiopia at age 15, Tigist arrived in Kenya as a refugee in 2012. The war had claimed her parents’ lives and had separated her from her siblings. Tigist met her husband in Kenya and had two children. Tigist later separated… Read More
The Power of Education: Latifa’s Story
When Latifa, 20, arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2009 with her grandmother and siblings, the family struggled to survive. Latifa and her siblings tragically lost their parents during the militia attacks in Somalia that forced them to flee. The children were unable to attend school in Nairobi because… Read More
A Family Reunited After Years Apart
This family reunification story was originally shared in a video that was released in 2011.   Jonathan and Christine lived peacefully with their four sons in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) until war broke out in 2001, changing their lives forever. Jonathan, a pastor,… Read More
“I hope one day I will be able to have a school, where I can teach French. I love teaching. I love my clients, and they love me too,” says Claudine. Claudine’s passion for teaching French stems from her experience as a refugee, and the… Read More
Thousands of refugees have the skills and experience to apply for jobs that would allow them to relocate to safe, new countries and begin to rebuild their lives. However, these work visa pathways are generally unavailable to refugees due to policy and logistical hurdles. Canada’s Economic Mobility Pathways… Read More
“I love this business a lot,” said Thierry. “It has so much value to me because I want to depend on myself like everyone else. I hope that one day I will be able to open and manage my own soap-making company that will empower other vulnerable people in this… Read More
Education support is one of the core services that RefugePoint’s Urban Refugee Protection Program offers to its clients in Nairobi, Kenya. This vital component of support is not only crucial for children to attain an education, it also enables refugee families to engage in livelihoods and other activities aimed at… Read More
“I have hope in what I am making with my hands. I believe in it, I believe in myself.” After her brothers were kidnapped and her father was killed, Safiya was forced to flee her home in Ethiopia while she was still a young girl. Read More
Henry: “This resettlement means a lot to us”
In October 2022, Henry, a refugee from Congo, received a phone call that forever changed his life and the lives of his two young sisters, Daniella and Prisca – they were finally going to be resettled in Canada. After their mother Wanga passed away in 2020, Henry and… Read More
Daniel: “I Can’t Wait to Meet My Daughter.”
“I have no words to explain how excited I am. My daughter has never seen me in real life, and we only see each other when I call on video. I can’t wait to meet my daughter. To hold her in my arms for the first time even… Read More
Umutoni: “I am proud of my life now”
“In my culture, a woman has no voice nor does she get education. She is supposed to clean the cattle shed, look after the home and fetch water or firewood,” Umutoni shared with us.  Umutoni, a widow and single mother of two boys is a refugee… Read More
Mama Juma
“I’m proud of how far I have come. When I look back, compared to where I am, I feel I’m in a better place,” Mama Juma* tells us. Today, Mama Juma, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, runs a successful business selling shoes and is enrolled… Read More
After war between different clans led to political instability and famine in his home country of Somalia, Mohamed was forced to flee his home at the age of two. In 1992, he and his family sought safety in Dadaab Ifo camp. There, Mohamed completed his primary and secondary… Read More
From Despair to Hope; Dreams of a brighter future
My name is Felix*, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo. I am married with seven children. Raising children in the civil war was truly challenging. We would move from one place to the other and back, trying to get some sense of security, but life was… Read More
Pabial: I am part of the world
According to the UNHCR statistics, the number of refugee children reached 36.5 million by mid-2022[1], the highest number recorded since the Second World War.[2] Without the traditional support systems and continued trauma from the flight from their countries of origin, education for refugee children is often a lost… Read More
My name is Lonah, and I am the Child Protection and Social Work Program Manager for RefugePoint’s Urban Refugee Protection Program (URPP) in Nairobi, Kenya. Today, I am celebrating the extraordinary courage and resilience of one of our youngest refugee clients, 14-year-old Baraka*. Recently, we learned that Baraka,… Read More
In 2014, Michael and his family were forced to flee their home in the Democratic Republic of Congo due to violent conflict. Michael was just 10 years old at the time and some of his siblings were even younger. When Michael, his parents, and seven siblings… Read More
Amongst the crowd, Alemitu’s smile is the widest. The type of person that lights up everyone around her through her own joy. Prior to 1992, Alemitu was living happily in Jimma, Ethiopia, running her own restaurant. That year, war forced her to flee from her home. She and other refugees… Read More
In early 2020, Esperance was laid off as a waitress and launched her own business selling special maize flour and other Congolese delicacies in Nairobi’s Kasarani area. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, some of her clients stopped buying her products, considering them luxuries, while others began taking the items on… Read More
Fadumo makes a living selling dresses and textiles at a street stall in Nairobi’s Eastleigh area. Like so many others, the pandemic impacted her business and put her in a difficult financial position. After completing RefugePoint’s Business Skills Training, Fadumo received a small business grant as part of COVID-19 recovery… Read More
Jessy* is seeing positive changes in her life and her business. “Life before wasn’t easy. It wasn’t easy to get food. It wasn’t easy to pay rent,” she told us. Jessy benefitted from Business Development Skills (BDS) training and two separate business grants from RefugePoint in 2020 to enhance her… Read More
Tasafa, a refugee from Ethiopia, saw a business opportunity, and he went for it. “In this area, a majority of us are butchers. When I arrived here, I saw the work and thought I could do it as well. I learned by watching others do it and it’s become my… Read More
Elizabeth is a young woman on a mission. At 18-years-old, she’s a single mother running a business selling and distributing wholesale candy to shops in Nairobi’s Githurai Estate. Elizabeth told us that she started this business because other jobs weren’t paying as well and she was confident that… Read More
When the Kenyan government announced another round of lockdowns throughout several counties in early 2021, Christine was stuck far from home. RefugePoint had just given her a $300 business grant to fulfill a contract she’d gotten with a hotel chain in Lodwar, Turkana County to supply them with curtains. As… Read More
Patrick’s story is a shining example of the power of determination. He started as a night guard for businesses in the Kakuma refugee camp before relocating to Nairobi in late 2018, where he started from scratch again. He moved with his brother to the neighborhood of Kitengela, where Patrick didn’t… Read More
Hakizimana is the proud owner of a barbershop nestled in the Eastleigh suburb of Nairobi. “I used to work for someone here in Eastleigh, a Kenyan. I enjoy doing this work as a barber, and I saw that if I can do it by myself, it would be better than… Read More
After facing difficult circumstances upon arrival in Nairobi, Juvenal can now proudly care for himself. When he arrived in Kenya from his native country of Burundi in 2015, Juvenal was ailing from complications in his spine, which limited his mobility and made him unable to stay on his feet for… Read More
DJ Montana257
From a very young age, DJ Montana* always knew that he wanted to become a DJ—he describes music as something in his blood. Unfortunately, in 2015, war broke out in his home country of Burundi, and DJ Montana was forced to flee. He ended up in Nairobi, Kenya, and refused… Read More
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mary, a refugee from South Sudan, supported her family of 15 by running a business selling roasted peanuts and peanut butter to members of her local church. Mary also bartered her products at a community school in order to enroll her children there. The profits… Read More
In 2015, at the age of 14, Patrick and his family were forced to flee their home in Congo and sought safety in Nairobi, Kenya. Patrick’s parents struggled to provide for the family by selling mobile phone accessories and milk. In 2017, Patrick’s mother passed away, leaving his father to… Read More
In February 2020, Balolwa, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, completed RefugePoint’s Business Development Skills training and received a small grant to expand her business selling tomatoes. Balolwa used the grant to add onions and garlic to her vegetable stand. Her business was doing well, but in… Read More
Before the COVID-19 pandemic rocked businesses worldwide, Beti, a refugee from Congo, was already struggling to support her family of four by selling fruit. Beti was recovering from injuries that she’d sustained when she fled to Nairobi, Kenya, from Congo, and was also dealing with the loss of her husband. Read More
Diane prepares some mandazi at her home in Kawangware. In 2015, Diane was forced to flee from Burundi to Kenya with her three children. Diane’s husband died during the war that forced them to flee their home, and Diane, far from her family and friends, found herself without a support… Read More
On August 10, 2009, Ajah, a refugee from South Sudan, was finally on her way to reunite with her son and her mother, from whom she’d been separated for more than ten years. Many years earlier, when violence broke out in her village in South Sudan, Ajah managed to escape… Read More
In 2016, Nanziza* and her six children were forced to flee their home in the Democratic Republic of Congo when rebels attacked their neighborhood. Nanziza’s husband was at church at the time of the attack, so Nanziza was forced to flee without him. After more than a month of traveling,… Read More
Fredric and Dalia
“I have always wanted to change my daughters’ name from Victorie Fredric to Victorie Fredric RefugePoint,” Fredric said, laughing hysterically. “I want to add RefugePoint to her name because if it wasn’t for RefugePoint I don’t know where she would be today. RefugePoint gave us food, rent, money… Read More
Farida, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), knows what it’s like to arrive in Nairobi as a refugee. She knows what it is like to begin again without a home or source of income. She also knows the skills and determination that it takes to become a… Read More
In November 2019, Pierre, a RefugePoint client from Nairobi, Kenya, was invited to participate in a week-long training in Sanremo, Italy, which focused on human rights and internal displacement. Before Pierre was forced to flee his home country of Burundi in 2015, he had been working as a community worker… Read More
During RefugePoint’s business training, clients are encouraged to set personal goals that they can work to accomplish within the first three to six months of launching their businesses. Soni, a single mother of two young children, knew exactly what she aimed to achieve: the ability to pay her rent and… Read More
Rosine and France
“I always wanted to study, but I didn’t have the means. As a single mother of three with no husband, my priorities took a back seat. I was most concerned with putting food on the table. When I expressed my hopes and needs to my case manager, she told me… Read More
“Ever since I was young, I loved education. When I met RefugePoint, they helped me to enroll in my final year of primary school. They hadn’t yet started supporting students to attend high school,” Daniel, an unaccompanied minor from the Democratic Republic of Congo, told us. After Daniel completed primary… Read More
“As a father, when you can’t provide for your family and your children go to beg on the street, it’s a tough and painful place to be as a parent. The thing that gets to you the most is the worry. You worry constantly, and you search for them on… Read More
“There are challenges that I face as a lesbian refugee. Where I used to live, they found out that I was a lesbian, and they began abusing me. We shared a common bathroom and toilet and the other people living in the building would lock it and not allow me… Read More
“I got the idea to start the barbershop after attending the RefugePoint business training. While I was attending the training, I was challenged and motivated to think outside of the box. I decided to pursue my idea of opening a barbershop.” In April 2018, Chris attended RefugePoint’s business training and… Read More
Baati is a single mother of three who fled from her home country with her children in 2005, after she and her husband were both arrested several times and tortured. Baati’s husband was a teacher and leader who was a very influential person in the community, and Baati worked as… Read More
Moses, Antony, and Vanessa
“RefugePoint gave us medical assistance, and one of the most important things that they provided for us was the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) card. Having that card means that I do not have to pay out of pocket for medical care for my siblings or me when I visit… Read More
When a community joins together to accomplish a shared goal, great things can happen! Djamaba, a refugee from Congo, suffers from a lung disease and requires breathing support through an oxygen concentrator machine. Due to the high cost, Djamaba could not afford the machine that he needed for his home,… Read More
“I think I have always wanted to become a doctor. When I’m done with my studies, and when I have become a doctor, I want to help the people around me. My main dream is to start a hospital where our patients can get quality healthcare for free. Sometimes when… Read More
As an artist, Semret works with two mediums – words and wool. Semret began her career as a journalist, but her reporting was one of the reasons that she felt insecure and was forced to flee her home country in 1996. Although Semret continues to write books, and contribute to… Read More
“I want to do this interview in English” Fawzia happily stated. “I have been attending English classes, and now I can speak it with no problem,” she told us, smiling. “When I arrived to Canada for the first time, I didn’t know English. Life was very hard, and the winter… Read More
It is just after 6:00 a.m., and the gates to Burma market, one of Nairobi’s largest meat markets, are about to open. Throughout the day, over 20,000 people – clients from restaurants, butcheries, and individuals, will descend on the market to buy their meat in bulk. Most of the meat… Read More
Angelique, Denisa, Marie, and Sephora
“My personal mantra is ‘If you do good, good things will happen to you in the future’ (‘Ukifanya mazuri, mazuri yatakutendekea mbeleni.’)  that is why I take care of the girls,” Angelique told us. In 2014, Angelique arrived to Kenya alone, after fleeing from her home country of Democratic… Read More
“At the age of 28, it wasn’t easy for me to accept that I was the head of a household of 11 and that I had to be the breadwinner. It was hard for me to accept that the whole family was looking up to me. I have now accepted… Read More
What is it like to be a child refugee? Edith, a former child refugee shares her story. In 1994, at the age of three, I was forced to flee my home in Rwanda to escape the Rwandan genocide. I still remember running in the forest as a little girl… Read More
In 2013, Esther* and her ten children were forced to flee their home country of Congo after her husband, a human rights activist, was abducted, and the rest of the family was brutally attacked. In Nairobi, Esther and her children lived with a friend in a one-room home and were… Read More
As an integral part of RefugePoint’s program in Nairobi, the counseling team helps to stabilize and empower refugee clients to achieve self-reliance by enhancing their support systems and by strengthening their social networks through individual and group therapy sessions. Group therapy sessions allow members to express themselves in a safe… Read More
Many refugees emphasize to us their desire to be self-reliant, and request support to get back to their independent lives in their new homes. Henri* is one such client. Henri completed business training and received a small start-up grant of $200 USD. Henri decided to start a business that none… Read More
Joseph & Beatrice
“Let me tell you about when I started selling milk. When I started out I would sell only one crate of milk, which would only give me 18 shillings (about 18 cents). I did this everyday and it was discouraging because I had so many children to take care of,… Read More
Zakuani & Nyantabara
Hitching rides on long-distance trucks, and walking for many miles during the day, our client Zakuani* and his wife Nyantabara*, fled from Congo and arrived to Nairobi, Kenya in December 2014. Zakuani and his family fled Congo due to war waged by MaiMai militia after he witnessed the merciless killing… Read More
David & Family
In 2002, after suffering severe torture and violence at the hands of rebels, David* and his family fled the Congo and vowed never to return. After a harrowing journey through Rwanda and Uganda, the family arrived in Nairobi. Initially, life in Nairobi was better for David and his family, but… Read More
Monica*, a single mother of seven, arrived in Kenya as a refugee after fleeing Congo in November 2014. Monica was separated from her husband during the family’s flight and had to begin supporting her family financially. With two of her children experiencing serious medical conditions, Monica’s family slept hungry most… Read More
“My name is Yadasa, and I am a former refugee who was resettled to Australia through RefugePoint. I am from the Ethiopian Oromo community, and I left Ethiopia after facing a lot of political persecution. In 2001, when I fled to Nairobi, Kenya, I was a young university student. In… Read More
Rose is a refugee from the Congo who has lived in Nairobi, with her three children, for two-and-a-half years. “Initially, my life was quite difficult. I would wake up in the morning, and I did not know where I would get a single cent for the day, or how to… Read More
Bien is a 30-year-old Congolese man who, fearing for his life in the midst of heavy fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), fled his home country and arrived to Nairobi, Kenya in March 2009. Beginning a new life in the city, without resources or connections was not easy… Read More
David* leads the RefugePoint Livelihoods team across a hallway in his building to a very small, unlit, and windowless room, filled with cooking smoke. “Before I met RefugePoint, I was here in this single room, with my family of eight – my six children and my wife and I were… Read More
When I first came to Kenya I was so withdrawn, I didn’t speak, I had no thoughts of the future. Now I am able to think about the future. Since coming to RefugePoint, that has been the biggest change for me. – Belvie,* RefugePoint client Pictured here, a family… Read More
To her neighbors in Nairobi, Annalie, a mother of three, is a successful and skilled tailor. However, few know about her struggles as a refugee. During the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Annalie and her husband fled to Kenya, where they experienced extreme hardship. “We experienced dire poverty in Kenya – the… Read More
Mercy* received a Livelihoods business grant, which helped her repair a broken grinding machine for use in her peanut butter business. Through this business, Mercy has managed to send her children to school and can afford housing and food. Mercy also attended RefugePoint’s group counseling sessions for women, which she… Read More
The truck driver covered us with goods so we could pass through the border undetected. We have not seen or heard from our parents or siblings since. – Irene, age 14 At age 14, as Irene* cared for several family members in her village in eastern Democratic Republic of… Read More
Joy is a Congolese refugee and former RefugePoint client who was resettled to the U.S. in July 2016. When she became involved in the women’s movement in her country, Joy and her family were persecuted and Joy was violently attacked. After fleeing to Kenya with her daughter, Praise, RefugePoint assisted… Read More
Musa*, age 11, was among the last unaccompanied minors to arrive in the U.S. before the suspension of the U.S. refugee resettlement program, and was certainly one of the last to arrive from such a life-threatening situation. At age 8, Musa was chased from his home in the Democratic Republic… Read More
In her home country of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Julie* was a successful farmer and her future was bright. Like many young women her age, Julie longed for marriage and a family of her own. All of that drastically changed on the day that the Mai Mai brutally attacked… Read More
Abal*, a 32-year old refugee, lived in Kenya for four years. Abal’s elder brother was an active member of an opposition group in their country (which we will not name due to ongoing sensitivity). His family was constantly harassed and his father died after being detained. Abal himself was accused… Read More