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From the Congo to Fayetteville

In August 2006, Immaculee Kyondwa and her family made a peaceful transition to the Jubilee House in Fayetteville. But in the years before she found her current home, the African refugee endured years of strife in her native Congo and neighboring Tanzania.

"In 1984, war came in my country," Kyondwa said.

People ran to the mountains, some to Zambia and others to Tanzania, but Kyondwa wanted to stay. She had a three-month-old daughter and was studying to be a teacher.

In 1985, war rebels came to homes at night, knocked on doors and killed people, she said. They burned her house and all she owned was gone. It was time to go, she said.

By canoe, Kyondwa crossed Lake Tanganyika to Tanzania where she lived for 20 years as a refugee. Her first 10 years were spent at a camp in Tabora.

"In Tabora, I started a very hard life," she said.

Within the first six months, she was given five acres of land to cultivate garlic, celery, sweet potatoes and rice.

"I had no choice," Kyondwa said. "I didn't know anything about planting. I cried every day because my life changed."

The food she farmed was needed to feed her growing family. By the time she and her husband left Africa, they had six children.

Faith found

At one point Kyondwa suffered from a long illness. She sold her produce, clothing and kitchen utensils in a town 20 miles from the camp in order to get money for medicine. One day a Methodist pastor took heart and approached her. She retold her story.

"Immaculee, I'm going to help you," he said to her. "I have my own doctor."

On the way, he stopped at his home to get his Bible and then they proceeded to his church.

He asked Kyondwa to kneel, and he began to pray, holding the Bible on her head, she said.

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