As a young child, Diodone attended school with hopes of becoming a doctor.

Sadly, his dreams wouldn’t be realized. In early 1993, just as Burundi was beginning to rebuild after decades of civil war between the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups, violent conflict erupted once again following the assassination of the nation’s Hutu president. In the years following, the country would engage in a civil war claiming thousands of lives.

After years of fearing for their lives, Diodone, Lydia and their six older siblings fled at night in 2005 to neighboring Tanzania and found sanctuary in a refugee camp, which would become their home for the next 10 years. Hopes of being reunited with their family faded quickly, as some were killed and others lost contact. They attempted to make the best of their dire refugee camp environment; attending school during the day and trying to find comfort in the one-room home they shared at night.

In 2011, they started the long process of being resettled in America. Lydia, 25, arrived in September 2015, along with her older sister and niece. Her brother Diodone arrived in Houston in October 2015. Two weeks ago, they began ESL classes with the help of an IM volunteer and are excited that they can write their names in English.

Now that they are safe in America, they are determined to reunite with their family members in Africa and start working. Since arriving in America, Diodone has become interested in 18-wheelers and one day hopes to get a job as a truck driver and travel America.

“We are thankful to be in America after so long. The caseworkers help us. We have hope now. We can have jobs now. We can be happy.”- Diodone