Baba and his family speak only French. Baba's story was translated to English and read to our guests at the Jackson Street shelter Open House. My name is Baba, I am from Democratic Republic of Congo. I arrived in Seattle on February 9th, 2015 with my three children Benie, Djo Djo, and Jeampy. My wife, Yvette, had arrived here before us on January 31st. She gave birth to our twins, Elizabeth and Ezechiel on February 6th, 2015 at the University of Washington hospital. In the Congo I was a businessman and a human rights activist. In 2013, I received my diploma in Human Rights Activism and Protection.
I was a member of the PPRD (People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy). I came to the United States because I spoke out against the government. I told people about the government killing young men. This was called Operation “LIKOFI”, the police would kill the young men who stole and acted violently to others. I wanted to stop this killing and help the men by giving them homes and jobs. The government said no, just kill.
On January 2nd, 2015 I was arrested and detained for two weeks. The police blindfolded me, beat me, and gave me only bread and water to eat. A man who spoke my native tongue told me that if I did not flee I would be killed. He helped connect me with a friend who helped me to escape. When I returned home my wife, who was eight months pregnant, had fled the house. The police had been visiting the house and bothering my family at night while I was gone. We eventually found each other and I sent her to Seattle to stay with a friend. A week later I joined her with my three young children. I had to leave my two oldest children in the Congo with friends. If I stayed in the Congo, I would be killed.
My family and I came to the Mary's Place Jackson Street shelter on February 12th, 2015. My twins were only six days old when we came here. Jackson Street shelter has helped us with many things – with food, clothing, and housing applications. Jackson Street gives us a safe place to sleep at night and my family can be together. My children are now able to go to school. The staff is nice. I am very glad that we found this place. Mary’s Place has given us a lot; we have not had to buy many things. My children are happy and safe; they play with the other children.
I pray that my two children left in the Congo are safe. I pray that soon I will have a house and can bring them both the United States to safety.