Growing insecurity in eastern Congo displaced many families. Bonheur, Merveille, and Emmanuel ran away. They ran in all directions. They ran for days.
Bonheur And Mireille: Hope And Connection After Ten Years Apart
Bonheur was born in a refugee camp. Before the war, his parents lived in Sud-Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 1998, unrest and violence forced them from their home. They crossed lake Tanganyika on a boat and fled to Lugufu refugee camp in western Tanzania.
This was the place where Bonheur was born.
By the time Bonheur was starting school, the situation in eastern Congo had seemingly gone back to normal. Bonheur’s parents decided to return to South-Kivu and be closer to the rest of the family. In their hometown of Baraka, Bonheur grew up surrounded by the love of his parents, his aunt Merveille and uncle Emmanuel.
However, growing insecurity in eastern Congo displaced many families again. When Bonheur’s father was killed in 2008, Bonheur, Merveille, and Emmanuel ran away. They ran in all directions. They ran for days.
I met Merveille in Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya in March 2018, where she had been for the past eight years.
“Sina ndugu. Sina amani”, said Merveille when telling me the rest of their story. “I don’t have relatives, I don’t have peace”.
Bonheur had managed to get to Burundi and find a safe haven in Bwagiriza refugee camp. He heard about REFUNITE through other Congolese refugees who had registered on the family tracing platform.
Bonheur registered on the REFUNITE platform and decided to give it a try. He searched for his mother but did not find any results matching. He almost gave up. Days later, he searched again. This time he searched for Merveille and found someone on the platform. They exchanged a few messages first, then decided to speak on the phone.
It took ten years, half of Bonheur’s life, for them to reconnect.
Bonheur is still looking for his mother. Today he says “nina tumaini’, I have hope.
25th March, 2018.