Congolese refugee family reunited in Northampton

  • left, Sudi Jumapili and far right, Asmani Jumapili, sit with their newly arrived family who are Congolese refugees from a camp in Burundi. The eight are from left to right, Zubeda Mwinibalu with her son Samir Mwinibalu,5, Kashindi Mitamba, the mother and grandmother, Nyota Jumapili, holding Zubeda's daughter,Saniya Jumapili,1, Mariam Jumapili, Fatuma Jumapili and her daughter Yusra Jeanne DJumapili, 7 months. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Sudi Jumapili, left, and Asmani Jumapili, far right, sit with their newly arrived family, who are Congolese refugees from a camp in Burundi, in Northampton, Thursday. The eight are, from left, Zubeda Mwinibalu with her son, Samir Mwinibalu, 5, Kashindi Mitamba, Nyota Jumapili, holding Zubeda’s daughter, Saniya Jumapili, 1, Mariam Jumapili, and Fatuma Jumapili and her daughter, Yusra Jeanne Jumapili, 7 months. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • left, Sudi Jumapili and far right, Asmani Jumapili, sit with their newly arrived family who are Congolese refugees from a camp in Burundi. The eight are from left to right, Zubeda Mwinibalu with her son Samir Mwinibalu,5, Kashindi Mitamba, the mother and grandmother, Nyota Jumapili, holding Zubeda's daughter,Saniya Jumapili,1, Mariam Jumapili, Fatuma Jumapili and her daughter Yusra Jeanne DJumapili, 7 months. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Patti Richmond of Easthampton, who is part of the First Churches of Northampton circle of care, left, talks to Sudi Jumapili, 31, a Congolese refugee who resettled in Northampton last month, while they wait for the arrival of Jumapili's mother, four sisters, two young nieces and a nephew July 25, 2018 at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn. Pauline Bassett of Florence, also from the First Churches circle, back left, translator Elizabeth Mathis of Springfield, Asmani Jumapili, 29, who arrived with his brother Sudi in July, and Susan Sprung of Florence, who is part of the Friends Collective circle of care, wait out several delays due to a storm in the flight path. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

For the Gazette
Published: 7/26/2018 10:54:51 PM

NORTHAMPTON — After a month apart from the rest of their family, brothers Sudi and Asmani Jumapili welcomed their mother and sisters early Thursday off a delayed flight from Burundi via Washington.

Sudi Jumapili said he was “excited” and “overjoyed” that his family would finally be arriving in Northampton.

The eight members of the family include the brothers’ mother, Kashinda Mitamba, and four sisters, Zubeda, Fatuma, Mariam, and Nyota. Zubeda was accompanied by her two children and Fatuma was with her 7-month-old baby daughter.

The family had been living in a refugee camp in Burundi since 2002, when they fled from their home country of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The family was scheduled to land  at Bradley International Airport in Ha   rtford at around 7 p.m. Wednesday, but due to multiple delays caused by poor weather conditions, they didn’t land until around 12:30 Thursday morning.

According to the family’s case worker, Susannah Crolius, who is also the director of community outreach and resource development for Catholic Charities, the family didn’t arrive in Northampton until about 3 a.m.

Kashinda Mitamba said through a translator that she and her daughters were very happy to be in Northampton and said the trip from Burundi was “very good but very tiring.”

The family is being resettled as part of the Refugee Resettlement Project, which is run by Catholic Charities in cooperation with the City of Northampton and began in 2017. According to Crolius, the project’s goal was to settle 51 refugees from Syria, Iraq, Congo and other countries with refugee crises by the end of 2017. Crolius said that due to President Trump’s travel ban, they were unable to meet that goal.

Crolius said a total of 50 refugees have now been settled in Northampton by Catholic Charities, including the Jumapili family. Another Congolese family, the Ngoy family, arrived over the course of the past 15 months.

Crolius said the resettlement program took a “community based model” to help integrate the refugees into their new lives, which included help from members of the community and the local government.

This is done through “circles of care,” which are made up by members of the community, usually members of religious groups. Sudi and Asmani’s circle of care is a group of people from Friends Collective. The rest of the family will be looked after by two circles of care made up of people from the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence, and First Churches Northampton.

Crolius said the program has enjoyed immense support from the city of Northampton and Mayor David Narkewicz. Crolius said that when the project was proposed to Narkewicz, the mayor said “why wouldn’t we do this?”

The circles of care help the refugees settle into their new lives by providing transportation, helping them get jobs, and aiding them with basic differences between life in America and life in a refugee camp in Burundi.

“I’ll have to teach them how to flush a toilet tonight,” said Crolius.

Since the brothers arrived in June, Sudi Jumapili said that they have been going to the YMCA, attending classes to improve their English, and going to the mosque in Hadley.

Elizabeth Mathis, who served as a translator for the family, said that the differences in culture can make refugees feel lost and confused when they first arrive.

“It is a very different environment. Food is very different. Some want to go back.” Mathis said.

But for Sudi Jumapili, being in Northampton, especially now that the rest of his family has arrived, is more than enough to satisfy him. He said he doesn’t miss anything about Burundi or Congo, and now that his family is here “everything is perfect.”




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