Congolese refugee finds ‘miracles’ like washing machines in Buffalo

A hundred years old Congolese refugee  who was recently resettled in the United States finds modern home appliances to be “miracles” in the city of Buffalo, New York. This entertaining story is told by By  of The Buffalo News

We call them “refrigerator,” “washing machine,” “sink” and “bathroom.”

Rebecca Ngombwa calls them “God’s miracle.”

“It’s like a miracle to see the refrigerator, and to have all the things in the house,” she said through an interpreter in her native Kinyamulenge language.

Ngombwa, a Congolese woman believed to be 111 years old, never saw these home furnishings before July, when she came to Buffalo as a refugee after 20 years in a refugee camp.

She arrived with her daughter Zera Nagazyra, son-in-law Gabriel Bwanangoyi and 16-year-old great-grandson Mercure Rugazura seeking a new life. They are among 390 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who have resettled in New York State in the first eight months of 2018, many of them in Buffalo.

The newcomers have reunited with 26 family members, who first began arriving in Buffalo as refugees in 2015.

Ngombwa is in awe of what most Americans have long taken for granted. That includes the ease with which she can turn a tap to have water stream from a faucet. In her native Minembwe village, Ngombwa and other villagers had to walk two miles to a river to get water.

Other fascinations in her home on the West Side: kitchen cupboards and soda pop.

“The good thing I found here are nice people, and Mountain Dew,” she said with a laugh.

The International Institute of Buffalo, a resettlement agency, informed Mountain Dew of the product’s newest and possibly oldest fan, and the company sent Ngombwa a package that included a hat and mug.

Before entering Buffalo, Ngombwa spent the past 20 years in a United Nations-sponsored refugee camp in Burundi.

Nagazyra said she has felt welcomed by other Congolese living on the West Side, where she resides.

“We feel comfortable because there is a Congolese community here,” she said.

Briana Neale, a case worker at the institute, said the new arrivals have received a lot of support.

“It’s always great to have family members and community members who are there for you, because they understand your culture and can assist you with what the process is really like in everyday life,” Neale said.

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