Family welcomed after life in hell

SIBOMANA NZARAMBA has lived through more than a decade of bloody civil war where he lost his three children, almost lost his wife and lived in hiding from a ruthless military regime in the depths of the Congolese jungle.

Now Mr Nzaramba and his family have been granted a new peaceful life in Lismore.

Mr Nzaramba, his wife Emilienne Mukarwema and two children Confiance Igiraneza and Janine Mukeshimana are the first Rwandan family to live in Lismore after Sanctuary Northern Rivers sponsored the family’s migration recently.

The family left a life of genocide, refugee camps and bloodshed in Africa but they are only an example of the many migrants who seek refuge in NSW.

According to an Australian Bureau of Statistics report released yesterday, Australia’s population growth has seen NSW take almost a third of all migrants last year.

The Northern Star spoke to Mr Nzaramba about the family’s unimaginable plight which led them to Australia.

“The war started in Rwanda in 1990 but in 1994 we left the country when the capital city was taken by the enemies,” he said.

“Children, adults and all people died and there were no people who could stop them. We decided to go to the Congo.”

After fleeing to a refugee camp in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr Nzaramba and his family watched as military from Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda disbanded their refugee camp, leaving them in the hands of armed forces that had killed most of their family.

“This was the time when my relatives were killed by military,” Mr Nzaramba said.

“When we moved out of the camp the military stopped us and told us they would take us back to Rwanda but they cheated us.

“We go with them for one week and they refuse to feed us for four days. We were all taken to a house and when we were sleeping the military came in and they started to kill people with knives and hammers and bind them.”

Mr Nzaramba stood in front of his wife and three children, challenging the soldiers before he was separated from them.

He was reunited with his wife some months later who he found in the midst of the jungle, suffering from gunshot wounds

Breaking down, Mrs Mukarwema told her husband their three young children had been murdered and buried in a mass grave by the military.

Emotionally broken and left for dead, Mrs Mukarwema and her husband lived in the Congolese jungle for four years, where Mrs Mukarwema gave birth to her now 11-year-old child Janine.

After years in a tiny, run-down house on the outskirts of the Kenyan capital city of Nairobi where she gave birth to Confiance, the family were approved a visa and sponsored to come to Australia.

“In the interview room, the secretary told me we were accepted and we were very happy to leave the difficulties of Africa,” Mr Nzaramba said.

“We are very happy to live in this country. People here are very friendly and always want to help us.”

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