by Bénédicte Wonganombe
Living as an immigrant in a foreign country is not easy. Beyond the fact of having experienced atrocities where we came from, and dealing with trauma and depression, and waves of disturbing thoughts, we are also faced with the problems of culture, language, social integration, and on and on. The greatest wish of immigrant asylum seekers in coming to the U.S. is finding a haven of peace, a place where we can have a peaceful sleep, a warm environment, a place that feels like family.
Those who by divine grace pass through Hope House are lucky and happy, because Hope House provides accommodations for asylum seekers and helps them succeed. Through its programs – transitional housing, Hope House English Program (HHELP), Assistance Program for Asylum Seekers (ASAP) – any asylum seekers who are selected for a brief stay at Hope House will be enormously assisted in finding a perfect and harmonious social integration into the U.S.
The majority of current residents come from French-speaking countries. Because of this, Hope House organized (pre-pandemic) a monthly, bilingual evening with French-speaking guests and Hope House residents. On this fun and jovial evening, residents enjoyed speaking French (which is almost their mother language) through games and exchanges, and sometimes made new friendships. Francophones were able to temporarily forget the atrocities they had to endure in their countries of origin.
I am from DR Congo, the most populous, French-speaking country in the world, topping even France in the number of French speakers. In 2016, 37 million Congolese – 47% of the country’s population – was able to read and write French, the official language of DR Congo. DR Congo is also a country that has seen war from 1996 until the present. This is why Maine – and the world in general – sees such a wave of immigrants from DR Congo.
I can only thank God and Hope House for all the good they offer to asylum seekers who come through their doors.
Bénédicte Wonganombe is a resident of Hope House