• Born in 1963 (approximately) in Bibogobogo, Congo
  • Started primary (elementary) school in 1969
  • Started middle school in 1975
  • Started gymnasium (high school) in 1977
  • Started higher education in 1979 and finished in 1981
  • Taught in the Congo from 1981-1994
  • Was married to Odette on September 21st, 1983
  • President of Burundi was killed in 1993, war started that day in Burundi
  • President of Rwanda was killed six months later in 1993
  • Left Congo to teach in Burundi in 1994 (before the war in Congo)
  • Genocide begins in Rwanda in 1994
  • First war in Congo began in 1996
  • Moved back to Congo in 1996
  • Lost nine family members in 1996 (including two children and mother)
  • Moved to Gatumba refugee camp in Burundi in 1996, stayed for a year
  • Was separated with his wife and two children, left with his oldest son
  • Left the refugee camp in 1997 and worked in politics for two years in Congo as the contact person for Burundi and Rwanda in the President’s Cabinet

    Benjamin and the President of Congo

    Benjamin and the President of Congo

  • Laurent-Desire Kabila was installed as the Congolese president in 1997
  • In 1997 Zaire is renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Was arrested and put jail in 1999 for 61 days because opposed the government
  • Release ordered by E.U. representative in February of 1999 and taken to Burundi
  • Stayed in Burundi from February 5th-March 24th in the hands of the U.N.
  • Moved to Grenaa, Denmark March 24th, 1999
  • Met girlfriend in Denmark, Emerence, in 2000 (thought wife was dead) and had two sons
  • Learned Danish from 1999-2004
  • In 2004 received the first information that wife was still alive
  • Traveled back to Congo in 2004 to village to confirm news about wife’s whereabouts
  • Returned to Denmark shortly after receiving no news
  • In 2005 received information that wife was in Kenya
  • Flew to Kenya in April, 2006 and was reunited with wife and two children
  • Arrived on a Friday and wife and children had a flight the following Tuesday to be moved to the U.S. as refugees
  • Family decided to request they be moved to Denmark instead of the U.S.
  • In 2007, after two years, request was denied
  • Resubmitted a request to go to the U.S. and after another year it was approved
  • June 12th, 2008 was family’s first day in the United States, relocated to Lexington, Kentucky
  • From 2008-2012, remained in Denmark because of contract with FedEx
  • During this time he visited his family in the U.S. once a year, apart from 2010 when he went twice.
  • His wife and two children moved to Des Moines in 2010.
  • On June 25th, 2012 Benjamin made his last “visit” to the U.S., and despite not having proper documentation to stay in the U.S., he decided he would stay.
  • On November 12th, 2014 he received permission to stay in the U.S. legally and work
Sunset in Congo

Sunset in Congo

 

Growing up in Congo: Reflecting on School and Family Life