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Boscoe Finds Safety and Self-Expression in Seattle

Dec 13, 2016

Blog Post

Rebecca Litt, HIAS.org

Boscoe* sits in the office of Jewish Family Service of Seattle, October, 2016. *Name has been changed to protect the identity of the client.

(Rebecca Litt/HIAS)

A culturally-appropriate welcome meal helps newly arrived refugees begin to acclimate.

(Jewish Family Service of Seattle)

While most of us were wide-eyed, awaiting the latest election results, Boscoe* was having a hard time keeping his eyes open.

It was 11:00pm, and Boscoe, his wife and their five children, all under the age of 10, had just landed at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

“I was so tired,” Boscoe told HIAS.org. “We had not showered and only had three hours here, and another four hours there to sleep, but we felt so grateful to finally arrive in the United States after so long.”

Boscoe and his family are originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He had been feeling unsafe for a long time, but when a man showed up at his door with a gun, Boscoe realized that leaving the country was his only means of survival.

“The next day, I left,” Boscoe said.

He and his family made the journey from DRC to a refugee camp in Malawi, where Boscoe and his wife were not allowed to work legally. Finally, after seven years and all of the paperwork, security checks, interviews and other processing that every refugee family goes through, the family was given refugee status and allowed to board a plane. First, they flew from Malawi to Johannesburg, then to New York, and finally to Seattle.

“We had the little ones on our laps for the whole trip,” Boscoe said, chuckling and pointing to his muscles to show how he held his kids during the plane rides.

It took Boscoe and his family three days to get from Malawi to Seattle, but when he arrived, case managers from Jewish Family Service of Seattle, HIAS’ local resettlement affiliate, were waiting to greet him.

“We brought him to his apartment and helped him set up, until about 1:00am,” JFS Program Manager Cordelia Revells said. Boscoe’s young family had little time to rest, however. The next day, they were off to get their social security cards and health screenings, and filling out endless amounts of paperwork.

Boscoe described the resettlement experience, “like a being a tree that is dug up and put in another place, and you want to grow even bigger.”

While his surroundings may be new, the desire to go above and beyond is not a foreign concept to Boscoe. He is in the process of writing a book about peace and prosperity in the DRC region of Africa. He also knows seven languages and plans to learn Spanish one day. On top of that, he hopes to be able to go to medical school and become a doctor.

With the same level of determination he applied to his journey to the U.S., Boscoe refuses to let his circumstances determine his future—giving up is simply not an option.  

“I am so appreciative of the help I received from everyone here, but it is up to me to make sure I move forward,” Boscoe said.

Freedom is a word Boscoe repeated often while describing the most obvious differences between his life in the DRC and what he hopes he’ll find in America.

“I could not stay in a country where there was no freedom of expression,” he says. “I am a freedom fighter. I have a vision. If I cannot express, humbly, my ideas on how the government is doing, I will not be happy.”

Since arriving in America, Boscoe has been hard at work to make sure he maintains his outlet for self-expression. He is currently working on a collection of poems on Africa which he hopes to publish soon.

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of clients.

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