Fikiri is a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. You may recognize his story from the IndyStar. Since Christmas, Fikiri has been extremely busy.
As a single father, he is raising his three children, while working the night shift on the weekends so he can be actively involved in his children’s lives, his church, and giving back to other refugees during the week.
Fikiri knows that the transition from a refugee camp to life in the U.S. is not easy. The language barrier is difficult to overcome. Fortunately, Fikiri’s English is strong. So, Fikiri took the initiative to start meeting with refugee families to ensure that others in the refugee community would have access to transportation and translation when applying for jobs.
“With my learner’s permit, I take my fellow brother refugees to their appointments,” he said.
So far, he has helped seven families apply for jobs.
At his church, the New Beginning Assembly of God, Fikiri is working with the senior pastor to provide translation services to Swahili speakers. As a former minister in Malawi, Fikiri plans to study Theology this fall and become a minister of a Swahili speaking church in the U.S. after he finishes his degree.
When Fikiri first started attending the church, the pastor offered to give Fikiri and his family some items they needed.
“When the pastor put me in that room, I found a lot of things. And I said ‘These things will be better if we can share with other refugees,'” Fikiri said.
Now, Fikiri and his church collect clothing and distribute it to refugees in the Indianapolis community.
Fikiri’s work in the refugee community does not stop in Indianapolis; it extends internationally back to his former refugee camp Dzaleka in Malawi.
While living in the camp, Fikiri started a ministry called Hope Children Ministry which feeds about 300 children with money he sets aside from working in the U.S.
He hopes to expand the ministry and hire teachers to teach English to the children to ease their transition to the U.S.
“Kids are our future. We have to invest in them,” he said.
Fikiri continues to save money solely raised from his work earnings to provide these children with food and activities, to help them retain a childhood and future that is often taken away in times of displacement.
Whether he is supporting refugees in his neighborhood, city or from his home country, Fikiri finds time to give back and lift up his fellow refugees.
“It’s very important as refugees to be united. Ghandi said, ‘United we are great, divided we fall.’ So, we as refugees must be united. We have to know that all of us are one community,” Fikiri said. “In the future, we are going to change this name of ‘refugee’ to ‘citizen.’ We have to work together so we can achieve in this country.”