Day 10: Lakewood Welcomes Our Newest Homeowners

We are always honored and excited to see stories of our clients and services picked up by the local media – it is an opportunity for those in the community to hear about the good we do from another source.  Today’s story – regarding our Migration and Refugee Services program – was featured in The Lakewood Observer by 18 year old reporter, Callie Powers.  Thank you, Callie, for sharing this message so beautifully, and to The Lakewood Observer for bringing this important issue to light.

In November 2009, Rugina Nukize arrived at Hopkins airport in Cleveland with her four children. Like any traveling parent, she was exhausted from the flight. Unlike most parents, however, she was a refugee fleeing the turmoil of her homeland in the Congo. After spending years in African refugee camps, she had escaped from the horrors of the past and was anxious to begin a new life in America.

When civil war broke out in the Congo, Rugina and her family were forced to abandon their home and became separated from her husband, Milindi. They did not know where Milindi was, or if he was even alive. The children, Axcel, Richard, Gladys, and Ukize, who had grown up in the refugee camps, were between the ages of 5 and 14.

When they arrived in America, the family received aid from relatives already in Cleveland, and from Catholic Charities. The family chose to settle in Lakewood because of our excellent schools, nationally-recognized library, safe affordable housing, and welcoming community. Rugina was willing to do whatever it took to provide for her family and keep them safe. She put all of her children into school immediately, found a job at Lakewood Hospital, and began taking classes in English and Nursing. She saved her money little by little, always working hard to provide for her family.

After all of this hard work and sacrifice, some good news came for Rugina and her children in 2010. The U.S. State Department was able to find her husband Milindi and bring him to America. The family was finally reunited and Milindi immediately found work. Last year, the family again experienced joy when they welcomed their fifth child, a baby boy named Brian. 

This past month, Rugina and Milindi realized another part of the American Dream when they were able to purchase their own home in Lakewood. More than a dozen Lakewood residents volunteered to help the family with painting, electrical work, carpentry and plumbing to get their house ready. Finally, it seems that Rugina and Milindi have achieved the goals of every American family: steady jobs, healthy children, a warm home, welcoming neighbors, and a happy united family.

Cleveland Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services is one of 104 national affiliates of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As the largest resettlement office in Northern Ohio, we expect to serve over 180 refugees and asylees this year.

MRS provides vast resettlement services designed to aide refugees become self-sufficient as soon as possible. Staff members offer employment services and case management services in culturally appropriate languages and customs. Currently our staff of 8 speaks over 9 different languages. MRS also has an interpreting service available.

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