Eric Nyongolo was 19 years old when he fled his home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in 2014. He took with him the memories of his mother’s murder and his sister‘s rape at the hands of rebels. The DRC has a long history of human rights violations and violent acts perpetrated by armed rebels against civilians is commonplace.
Rebels were recruiting young men, like Eric, to join in the violence, but Eric knew this was not the will of God. And so, Eric says, “I left my home country…and took up refugee status in Kenya in the Kakuma refugee camp.”
Though Eric met his wife, Zaina, in the camp and found work and even completed training and was certified in Water Management and Technologies, life was not easy. He and his growing family often faced food shortages. They moved to Nairobi in 2017 where they continued to be burdened by food insecurity.
While Eric and Zaina struggled to put food on the table, in Canada, Zaina’s sister was settling down to life in a new country. She entered Canada as a refugee and shared the story of the sister she had left behind in Nairobi. The Nyongolo family’s story was retold at a congregational meeting at the Zion United Reformed Church in Sheffield, Ontario in April 2019. On the agenda for the meeting was one very important question, “Should we sponsor the Nyongolo family?” The church had never sponsored a family before, but everyone voted “yes”. And so the sponsorship process began.
In a written account, committee members Ed and Wilma Gringhuis share, “Hearing the narratives and experiences of our particular family spurred us on to do everything possible to bring this family to Canada as soon as possible.”
The couple explain that once the decision was made to sponsor the Nyongolos, a 10-person sponsorship committee was formed and each committee member was assigned various roles to address the needs of the family, including: housing, health, transportation, finances, employment, education, the need for counselling, and getting proper Canadian documentation. The Gringhuis’ write, “World Renew was absolutely incredible with all the resources and help given to us in this process.”
The Nyongolo family sponsorship was a private sponsorship. That means, the Zion United Reformed Church took full responsibility for providing income support for the family for a full year. Ed and Wilma say, “The overall sponsorship experience has been very positive for our church. We encourage other churches to take up sponsorship…World Renew has a binder full of necessary information, as well as staff to assist you every step of the way. The Lord will bless your efforts.”
On December 12, 2019 the sponsorship committee welcomed Eric, Zaina and their five children at the Toronto Pearson International Airport. Zaina’s sister was also there to welcome the family.
Ed and Wilma recall, “What a joyful meeting when [the] family arrived at the Toronto airport–they were so appreciative of all the blessings they received, praising God for His goodness.”
Today, the Nyongolos are happy to be in Canada. Eric says, “[Canada] is so peaceful and secure–compared to where we came from.” Eric is employed at a factory. Zaina is taking English courses at Conestoga College and the children are settling into school. Eric is excited that he now has his driver’s license and looks forward to owning an automobile. He says, “In Canada, life is good.”