On June 21st, 2018, one of our very own case managers, Ally became a United States Citizen. In honor of International Day of Peace and Citizenship Day that was earlier this week, we celebrate and honor new American citizens like him. Ally, and many refugees just like him, represent the best of our nation’s values. Ally is a light for us all in persisting in the fight for human rights locally, nationally, and internationally.
Ally came to America as a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and he was resettled in Indianapolis by Exodus Refugee. He worked as a human rights activist and journalist until he started receiving threatening messages in 2011. “People like me and other people, young activists – we defended the human being, and what the government did to our people was wrong, so they didn’t like that. That’s a big problem in our country. There is not anywhere you can express your opinion.”
Ally had to leave behind his family and flee to Kenya. After being in Kenya for just three days, his first daughter was born back in the DRC. Eventually, Ally was invited to resettle in Indianapolis in 2013, and his wife and daughter joined him a year later. Eager to give back to the refugee community, Ally was hired on as a case manager with Exodus in 2016.
Why He Gives Back
Informing people of their rights and working to ensure that those rights are protected has been Ally’s calling in every community that he has entered. “There was not any freedom, so the one way to defend people for me was by doing my activism.” He says that being in America is like a dream because although America has many areas to improve upon, basic human rights are respected here, something that cannot be said for the country that he called home for so much of his life. “Changing my citizenship is just to help my people, to protect them, to defend them. That is the one way you can defend people back home. I can meet with the President, I can talk with Congress, I can go to a Senator. Those things pushed me to become a [United States] citizen.”
Beyond activism, Ally is a leader in helping other Congolese transition successfully to life in the United States. As a case manager with Exodus, he is one of the first faces that greet our new neighbors as they land in Indianapolis. Ally assists new refugees from DRC and all over the world by helping them apply for social security cards, public assistance, and driving them to their medical appointments. “Seeing what Exodus did for me, there is nothing I could give them back. I decided coming, working with refugees, defending them because they still need our support. They need someone from the community who knows them well, who can defend them well.”
A Message to His Fellow Americans
“I know there are a lot of people in America who have never had the chance to go out of the country, I want to tell you all that you have a beautiful country. And the one thing I’m asking you is to pay attention because there are worse things happening outside of your country and they need your support.”
The last few years have ignited a spark within many citizens and have given us more to defend than we might appreciate. His optimism reminds us that despite being under an administration with discriminatory immigration policies and antipathy toward the refugee resettlement program, our citizenship equips us with all of the tools that we need to become fierce advocates for human rights. Ally encourages Americans to look beyond their border and use their position of power to lift up those who have not been so fortunate to have the capability. Exodus is lucky to have him on our team. America is lucky to have him as a citizen.
Written By: Rachel Roberts, 2018 Summer Intern
Edited By: Sara Hindi, Community Engagement Coordintor