Resettling: Congolese refugees in the Ozarks

Springfield, Missouri is home to dozens of Congolese refugees seeking to start a new life after fleeing a brutal civil war. The series "Resettling" investigates the unique health, economic and social challenges to refugee resettlement in the Ozarks.

The series is reported by Missouri State University journalism students as part of their International Reporting class, taught by KSMU contributor and MSU Journalist-in-Residence Jennifer Moore.  "Resettling"  will air on Ozarks Public Radio May 30, 31, and June 1 at 7:45 AM, and will be archived below.

Key to a Refugee's Upward Mobility: The English Language

Jun 1, 2017

Claude Douhendwa is making his way through the buffet line at his church in Springfield. He made a good living as a woodworker in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

But just as he was establishing himself as a young adult, varying ethnic and political groups were sparring for power.

Claude, his wife, and their two young children found themselves caught in the crossfire.  They fled to a nearby forest, where they hid from rebel fighters.  

Churches, Volunteer Groups Help Refugees Stave off Loneliness

May 31, 2017

Imagine leaving all of your friends, relatives and colleagues behind and fleeing to a safe place—where you don’t know a soul.

Pascal Nzabahanai knows that scenario well. Three months ago, he fled violence and instability in his home country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He’s a refugee.

We met Pascal at his rental home in Springfield.

“It’s like starting a new life, you have no anything, you have no money. You don’t have any way to shop,” Nzabahanai said.

When refugees first arrive in their new country, they often feel disoriented and lonely.

Refugees of Congolese War Navigate Life After Trauma

May 30, 2017

In the crowded lobby of Life 360 Church in Springfield, Esther Faida, a 28-year-old Congolese refugee, is keeping an eye on her young daughter.

Esther’s journey to the Ozarks started in a war zone. 

A former seamstress, she lived and worked in the capital city of South Kivu, where the conflict between ethnic and rebel groups has forced entire communities from their homes.

Esther, her husband and two small children had been living in war zone since 1998. Bloodshed, fear and instability became routine.