#RefugeesofTLH | Patrick & Nyota
Meet Patrick & Nyota
My name is Patrick Pilipili. I am Congolese, a husband, the father of six children, and people tell me I am a very determined man. I have many dreams for my family now that I am in America, but let me first tell you about my life in Africa. My father came from a large family. He was one of nineteen children. Nearly all of them are doing well even though they are divided between Congo and Tanzania due to war. I have felt the pain of war since I was a child. I had to flee from my country of Congo many times. The most painful loss I have suffered was the death of my brother. While he was escaping from war, his boat capsized and he drowned. I have not seen my other siblings or my parents since 2005.
My wife, Nyota, has not seen her mother since 2002. Nyota has also suffered loss. Two of her sisters passed away many years ago. A boating accident took her sister’s life as she too was escaping war in Congo. Her other sister was taken by malaria. These trials have been very bad, but we are not without hope.
Nyota and I met each other in a refugee camp in Tanzania after I fled Congo a second time. Life in the camp was hard. We were sometimes expected to ration what little food we were given for months, but it was not enough to last. Housing was no better. We lived in a home that was made from wood stakes and mud, with a tarp covered in thatch acting as our roof. This kept the rain out, but the ventilation was not good. It was very problematic and the conditions became unbearable. In 2003, with our two small children, Nyota and I moved to Mozambique, just off the coast of the Indian Ocean.
For 13 years, we lived in Mozambique. There, my wife and I created and began operating two small businesses. I worked in textiles, specializing in women’s clothing while Nyota sold tomatoes and women’s clothing in the market. We were even able to rent an apartment while still getting food donations. Four more of our children were born there.
Just over a year ago, we were told we could leave Mozambique for America. We came to Tallahassee with our six children in May of 2016. I am very happy to be here. It is good. It is hard knowing that our families in Africa still suffer though. Nyota is able to stay in contact with her family via telephone. Many of her family in Tanzania are in need. She has an elderly mother and her brother suffers from serious mental illness. But even though we worry about them, there is hope. One day, we dream of meeting our families here in the United States. If nothing else right now, we want to help them from afar when we can.
When we came to America, I had much hope that we would receive help for our eight-year-old son. He has an eye disease that is very bad and leaves him unable to see well. He is in constant discomfort. He has had problems with his eyes almost since birth, as there was not proper treatment for him in Africa. We have been told he needs to see a specialist in Miami. Nothing can be done without the money to get there though and having such a big family leaves little leftover for savings. Still, we are determined to help my son get better. I am thankful that others have helped us with this. Together, we have been fighting for his sight. We hope to go to Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami this June.
Now that we have been in Tallahassee for a year, my children are in school. I hope one day they will all be able to go to university. I am glad I have two good jobs so I can support my family. I have my drivers license now. I even have a car. I have friends. My life is good. I am thankful to God for these things. In America we have opportunity and we are free. It is a safe place.
Donations for this family will go towards things like their son’s trip to Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, Florida ($2500), as well as an Oxford Picture Dictionary ($25), a white board and markers ($50), a laptop with Office Suite($1025), internet for 6 months ($350), garden supplies and seed ($275), a gas card ($200), a VISA card ($85).
We are pleased to partner with Emergency Care Help Organization (ECHO) in this effort. In addition to connecting support services and resources to our families, ECHO has committed its stewardship, accountability, and transparency to accept charitable contributions and donations on our behalf as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.
We launched something exciting yesterday!
We have partnered with local startup DivvyUp Socks to create some Aerial Tallahassee socks. For each pair of socks sold, you gift a pair to a refugee living here in Tallahassee!
For more information check out http://socks.aerialtallahassee.com!
Thank you so very much for helping support Patrick and his family! We are really thankful to see our community getting excited!
This week the Tallahassee Democrat and ABC 27 WTXL told the story of the #RefugeesofTLH project! Check out the links below.
Y'all are amazing!