It’s a phone call Elie and his family waited years for. They waited so long that when it finally came, Elie couldn’t believe it. His mum screamed “Elie, it’s happening!” They were going to a new home – Australia.
Elie says that it was the best moment of his life. His family are Banyamulenge, a minority ethnic group from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They faced persecution and violence, and spent 20 years as refugees. They were forced to leave their home, a small village in South Kivu for a Burundi refugee camp, before they moved onto the slums of Kampala, Uganda.
Those were stressful times, with the family facing the uncertainty of never knowing where food, clothing or money would come from. Never knowing if they would be forced to move again, and always worried about their safety.
Elie found work as an English interpreter for other refugees, and was planning to become a motorcycle taxi driver – a highly dangerous job – when he found out he was going to Australia. “The battle of living your life where you don't know what will happen tomorrow, it's gone,” he says, of the family’s relief and excitement upon learning about their future.
After a long flight, Elie and his family arrived at their home in Wollongong. Red Cross was there to help the family settle into their new community. From everyday things, like how to use a microwave, to connecting them with doctors, social services and English classes for his parents, they were there every step of the way. They helped Elie’s brothers and sisters enrol in the local high-school, and supported Elie to get started at university, where he’s studying mathematics. He wants to be a teacher, helping others to learn.