Sendet dreams of one day
going back to college.
He fled eastern DRC out of fear of persecution for attending university.
Sendet Seremba, 54 years old: “My family came to the United States in 2009, after spending over 15 years as DRC refugees in Burundi. We dreamed of a better life, something me and my wife still hope for ourselves and our children. When we arrived in the US, all nine of us were crammed into a small apartment. It’s all we could afford at the time, but it was our home. I dreamed of one day purchasing a house so that my family could live comfortably. I saved money and took classes on how to open the right bank accounts.
In May 2015, I bought my first house in Houston. My family’s first house since feeling Congo 24 years ago. Now, my seven children are working hard in school and dream of pursuing a higher education. I hope that they will go to college, and am glad we live in a country where they won’t be persecuted for doing so, as I was many years ago.”
Sendet (left)shows his son how to care for their new yard. Their house is the first Sendet has owned since he fled Congo24 years ago. A dream come true for the Seremba Family. UNHCR/ S. Seremba
Sendet (right) and his family celebrate his daughter’s high school graduation in Houston, Texas. UNHCR/ S. Seremba
Sendet (right) graduates from ESL classes with one of the highest grades in his class. When he moved to the United States, Sendet hardly spoke any English and struggled to overcome the language barrier. He also participated in computer technician classes and received an A+ as the top student in his class. One day, he hopes to return to school to receive a degree in Computer Science. UNHCR/ S. Seremba
Sendet in his office at the resettlement agency he works for. He is dedicated to giving back to refugees so they have the same chance at following their dreams as he did. The majority of Congolese refugees resettled in Houston are children under the age of 18. UNHCR/ S. Seremba
“I also dream of going back to school. I received the highest grades in my English as a Second Language classes and auto cad courses I took in Houston, but would like to go back to college and study Computer Science.”
In 1992, Sendet Seremba fled Democratic Republic of the Congo with his wife and seven children fearing for their lives. Sendet was already concerned for his family’s wellbeing after the police were persecuting educated people in Bukavu, a city in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Sendet, at the time, was enrolled at Lubumbashi University as a Psychology student, but after threats and the start of the civil war, he had to leave school to keep his family safe.
Sendet’s family fled to Burundi, and spent the next 15 years in Bujumbura, the capital city. In July 2009, the Serembas were resettled to Houston, Texas. Sendet now works as a case manager at Alliance for Multicultural Community Services, helping refugees who are new to Houston like he was 7 years ago. When asked what his greatest hope for the future was, Sendet replied to have a better life. Already with a house and his US citizenship, Sendet hopes to return to school and finish his degree, something he was unable to even consider until moving to the United States.
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16 years of civil war has forced over 470,000 refugees from DRC to seek refuge in neighboring countries, including Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania and Rwanda. Although a peace accord was signed in 2003, armed groups still fight amongst themselves and the government forces for control of the nation’s rich natural resources.
Refugees from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are ethnically and linguistically diverse, there are over 250 ethnic groups and over 700 languages in the country. Texas has received the highest number of Congolese refugees in the nation, with Houston being home to the largest concentration of Congolese.
She dreams of opening a large Sudanese restaurant with her daughter Noura.
She hopes to inspire other refugees to succeed in their new countries.
She dreams of empowering women at her training centre.