Young Pittsburgh Refugees Share Their Stories: Anje And Anna

Aug 7, 2017

The Democratic Republic of Congo is experiencing one of the highest rates of internal displacement in the world because of conflict. More than a half-million people have fled the violence. Some of those refugees, including children, have resettled in Pittsburgh. 

As part of a five-part series sharing the stories of refugee youth in Pittsburgh, we hear from two teenagers who have recently settled in the city. 

Anna Nyirabukobwa, 18, and Anje Uwimana, 18, said they're still adjusting to life in Pittsburgh.

“There is too much war in Congo,” Nyirabukobwa said. She said she misses her friends, cousins, nieces and nephews who are still in Africa.

Uwimana said when she arrived at Brashear High School, some of the other kids were mean to her because she didn’t speak English.

“They start making fun of you because they know you don’t understand, so they can say whatever they want,” she said.

But both girls said their passion for music is what gives them a sense of home.

“I love to sing,” said Nyirabukobwa, who’s lived in Pittsburgh for eight months. “I sing at church, I sing at home, I sing at school.”

Uwimana said she loves to sing at church, but “American church is boring,” she said.

“In Africa, we don’t care about time,” she said. “But here on Sunday they work. American church is not good for us.”

Both girls are also focused on their future careers. Uwimana hopes to be a nurse one day, but said doing so in America takes more training than back home.

“It’s hard to be a nurse,” she said, “so you have to learn more to get that job. But in Africa it’s not that much, you just finish high school and then you start working. But I will try my best.”

Nyirabukobwa also aspires to be a nurse and is prepared for the work it will take.

“I like treating people,” Nyirabukobwa said. “I like studying, and I [will] become someone in the future.”