For seven years, Congolese refugees (and newlyweds!), Mbimbi and Goreth, didn’t know if they would ever see each other again. Separated by continents, Mbimbi was stuck in Burundi while Goreth resettled and began her new life in America. In spite of the long wait, the two of them never lost hope, their love growing by the day.
“No one can do what Goreth did,” Mbimbi said about his wife’s commitment not to remarry. Instead, Goreth chose to hold onto hope, believing God was faithful and would bring Mbimbi back to her in America.
Where It All Began
In 2008, Goreth was a wife and mother living in Goma, a city in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Her day began like any other day – she woke up, brushed her teeth, made some tea and headed to the market to sell clothes at her stand. It became a day she would never forget when “the fighting broke out.” She recalls, “My daughters, [Christine and Valentine], and I started running, and we found a way to get past Goma to Burundi. That’s when I started my life as a refugee. My [first] husband died in the fights.”
Goreth and her daughters ended up in a Burundian town filled with other refugees. Upon arrival she shares, “I felt relief because of sleeping in a house and churches help us and Christians help us.”
While Goreth and her daughters were refugees in Burundi, Mbimbi was working as an auto mechanic in Baraka, a city south of Goma in DRC.
In 2014, an armed civilian group put pressure on him to “join them for the fight and to be a soldier.” These groups were once formed to defend the Congolese against rebel armies. But tragically, they have created more chaos and violence than protection for the Congolese people.
So, when Mbimbi refused, they threatened him. With a target on his back, he reflects, “That was the night my uncle called me and said, ‘They are looking for you.’” That same day, “I told fishermen what happened and ask if they can help me to another place. They hide me in the boat and carry me down river.”
From there, Mbimbi went to Boku, where “they [gave him a] motorcycle to go to Boda.” From Boda, he traveled to Burundi where he ended up in the same town as Goreth.
Having arrived in the same town six years apart, Goreth and Mbimbi met, by chance, while filling out paperwork to earn refugee status. Goreth was farther along in the process while Mbimbi was just beginning his paperwork. Despite crossing paths at different stages in their journey to flee DR Congo, they formed a connection “and began a relationship.” Within a year, they were married.
Even though they were living in a safer town than the cities they had fled, Goreth and Mbimbi couldn’t escape the violence. In 2015, their Burundian town experienced fighting; so, when Goreth was given the opportunity to go to America, she agreed. The catch? Mbimbi wouldn’t be able to join her and her daughters. It was a bag of mixed feelings for Goreth.
“To be a refugee is not an easy thing,” she says. “It’s just a thing you have to do to pray to God. God helped me because I became strong and fight for the kids to grow up…in a safer place.”
Leaving behind her new husband, Goreth and her daughters traveled to America not knowing when and if they would ever be reunited with Mbimbi. When they arrived in the U.S., their new lives began right away.
Goreth remembers they were greeted by World Relief staff and volunteers. “[They] had already found an apartment for us,” she recalls.
Staff and volunteers came alongside Goreth and her kids, taking them to doctors appointments and helping Goreth find a job in manufacturing, packing hospital-grade linens. Goreth expresses sincere gratitude for all of World Relief’s help, especially in “the first three to six months.”
Even though Goreth felt “sad sometimes” she shared with deep conviction that she “still waited and prayed to God” for Mbimbi.
At Last, Together Again
Finally, in July 2022 both her and Mbimbi’s prayers were answered when he was resettled to America. Many were there to witness the tearful reunion at Chicago-O’Hare as Goreth and Mbimbi finally embraced each other after their 7 year separation.
Now reunited with his wife, Mbimbi is taking a World Relief “Zoom job class and language class.” He takes comfort in knowing that once his job and language classes are complete, he can still count on World Relief.
“It’s not like they abandon you,” he said. “If you still need something, they are there to help.”
Mbimbi and Goreth are currently renting a one-bedroom apartment. Now able to dream together, the couple says, “for the future, we are praying to God that we can get our own house.”
Knowing that God has provided for them before, they are trusting, through prayer and perseverance, that anything is possible!
As crises converge, and global conflict forces more people to flee their homes, it takes all of us, to move forward together, to build peace and lasting change. When you give today, you help us build peace in places like DR Congo while also welcoming those like Goreth and Mbimbi who have been forced to flee to the United States.
Michelle Visk is a freelance writer passionate about sharing compelling stories of individuals impacted by nonprofits throughout the world. In addition to writing for nonprofits, she recently launched her own interior design e-consulting business, geared at making interior design more accessible to the middle class so everyone can create a home they love. When she’s not writing or doing e-consults, she enjoys spending the majority of her time with her husband and pouring into her two feisty little girls (ages 3.5 and 5) as a stay-at-home-mom. Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, Michelle worked in ministry for 10 years, serving as a Communications Director for a multi-site church. She holds a BS from Butler University.