REBECCAÂ JUMA, 18, arrived in Portland from Burundi in September.
Her family could afford to send only one family member to seek safety in the United States and, as the oldest of four children, she was chosen to go.
Juma doesn’t like to talk about the experiences she had in Burundi that made her feel unsafe, but said she was excited to come to America, even though she had to make the trip alone.
She knew little English when she came here, but has been taking lessons while living at Hope House. “Now, I can speak,” she said.
A student at Portland High School, Juma wants to go to college, then become a gynecologist.
She’s not daunted by the amount of hard work that will mean.
“If you like something, it’s always easy,” she said.
HUGHES INGABIRE, 21, remembers the dates well.
He left Burundi on Aug. 23 and arrived in Portland on Aug. 24.
He stayed with a friend while looking for an apartment, but couldn’t come up with a security deposit. Then he found out about Hope House. He moved in on Nov. 3.
“I did it finally,” said Ingabire, who left his parents and five younger siblings in Africa.
Ingabire is taking classes through Portland Adult Education and plans to go to school to become a doctor, he said.
For now, he is enjoying the luxuries of his new house and getting used to his new home.
“Outside is cold, but inside is like summer,” he said.
ARMAND TURINYUNGU, 39, spent three weeks at the Oxford Street Shelter before moving in with a friend who had an apartment on St. John Street.
“It’s no good to be there, but I have no choice,” he said about the shelter.
Turinyungu landed in New York City from Burundi in May. He stayed in the city for two weeks before moving to Portland.
“I feel safe here,” he said.
Turinyungu has five children, ages 3 to 11, in Burundi. His plan is to bring them here in a couple of years. For now, his focus is on improving his English.
Turinyungu said he didn’t have one steady job at home. He did graphic design work and video editing, and led a youth ministry.
He doesn’t have a specific career goal, but he has a good idea of what he wants out of his next job. “I would like to help other people,” he said.