The Newcomer Welcome

Mwende recently arrived in the United States.

We are witnessing the largest migratory period in human history, with the highest levels of displacement on record. There are 65.3 million forcibly displaced people worldwide. Here at BakerRipley, we believe in creating an effective welcome for the thousands of people who come to Houston for a better life.

Mwende, his wife, and his five children fled their native country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, after regional instability and tribal prejudices began to reach a boiling point. Mwende received death threats and his wife was assaulted after members of his wife’s tribe found out that Mwende’s father wasn’t from the same tribe.

He left with his wife and two small children to Tanzania, then Malawi, Zambia and then to Mozambique. For nearly 20 years, they lived in refugee camps before they were chosen for resettlement by the United Nations High Commisioner for Refugees. Their destination was chosen for them – Houston, Texas.

Mwende grew tomatoes in the refugee camps to create additional income for his family. Mwende, far right, stands with his sons at the edge of their tomato plot.

“Here we are safe, secure. It’s not like my country – in my country there are many discriminations. That is one reason to come here. And here there are many opportunities for jobs, for school,” Mwende says “There are many people from different countries, different continents, all together.”

Our immigration team helped Mwende, his wife and children apply for permanent resident status and all were approved. They will be eligble to apply for United States citizenship in four years. Although Mwende no longer needs immigration legal assistance, he’ll stop by and say hello to the team at Baker-Ripley. He takes advantage of computer classes and other services we offer and is working to find a full time job.

Mwende is resilient – you can tell when you meet him and through the way he shares his story. He speaks four different languages – French, Swahili, Portuguese and he’s still polishing his English. He chuckles when he’s having trouble finding the right word.

Everyone who comes to Houston is worthy of our welcome. You can help us keep this region a place of opportunity. Mwende and his family, like many others, deserve the chance to get connected to the resources they need to make a good life here.