Client Success Stories

Denis Kasaza

 

 

 

Today we would like to highlight one of our most successful clients, Denis Kasaza. Denis is a current client of US Together’s Survivors of Torture program and former refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has been in the United States for one year, and since his arrival, he has worked hard to integrate into Columbus and develop his own business selling personal artwork. 

 

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Denis’ background story is one of complexity, strife, and achievement. While living in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Denis was forced to work for the political party of the former president: the A.F.D.L. He worked with a military general, who died in 1996. After his death, all government staffers continued their work under the new administration. However, this transition wasn’t peaceful. Soon after the new administration was established, there was a violent faction of people who opposed the president and anyone who worked for the government. The country became both physically and politically divided as tensions rose. Denis was confronted by members of an opposition group, who arrested him for working with the government and threatened him with violence. Thankfully, he was able to escape that same day and left the country. His family was unable to leave, but they were not employed by the government, and therefore not in immediate danger. He fled to Mozambique and then South Africa

 

 

 

Now, Denis is focusing on expanding his artistic abilities and forming his own business. He has seen the immense opportunity in Columbus, and has been working with US Together’s staff to establish himself as a well-known artist within the community. His artwork is multidimensional, taking inspiration from life in Congo and Mozambique, where he lived for 10 years. Picture 2Denis uses many forms of media, such as ink, wire, string and even dried banana leaves to gather the beauty of all aspects of African culture to create pieces that empower women. This past March, Denis showcased his art at US Together’s International Women’s Day celebration and sold the majority of his pieces. His artwork has even been featured in museums in South Africa and has been sponsored by Coca Cola. To check out some of Denis’ beautiful work, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raymond Akoson

 

 

 

Raymond SpeakingRaymond Akoson, a former refugee from Ambazonia, a region seeking separation from Cameroon,  and client of our Survivors of Torture program, has a unique and powerful story. Prior to his resettlement in the United States, Raymond spent his time actively recruiting youth to the Popular Action Party (PAP), a political movement that he says is dedicated to equality in Cameroon. After revising the constitution of the party to include youth activists, Raymond saw PAP’s membership skyrocket into millions.

Within a few months, it had become a nationwide phenomenon. In October 2011, presidential elections were held, and out of 23 contenders, PAP came in third. This threatened the current political establishment, and the government reacted violently. Amidst heightened tension and atrocities committed on behalf of the Cameroon government, politicians – including Raymond – began advocating for an act of separation from French Cameroon. Consequently, all leading voices of this campaign were arrested and locked up in underground cells. Raymond was lucky to flee to Nigeria, where he sought refuge. To this day, active genocide is occurring in Cameroon. At least 5,000 civilians have been executed, and approximately 500,000 people have been internally displaced.

 

 

Raymond and his family arrived in the United States in 2017 and have been building a successful life ever since. He is currently employed and is expecting his second child soon. When we spoke to Raymond about his experience in the United States, he stressed that the social services US Together provided him were essential to his integration. Raymond stated that “the community is welcoming, and the services are much more robust than anticipated.” Although Raymond is working in the United States, he is still “actively involved in the political process of the Cameroons.” He writes a blog and stays up-to-date with current events.

 

 

Something to remember is that Raymond’s story is exceptional. For most refugees, seeking safety takes months, even years. Many end up living in refugee camps for decades before they are resettled elsewhere. Once they arrive in host countries like the United States, integration can be very difficult. This is why US Together works hard to provide all refugees with opportunities for success. We want all clients to be like Raymond!