Armand is a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, now living in Nairobi. He is a single father of four teenagers. His wife was killed in the DRC.
The family lives in a small shack made of tin in the Kangemi neighborhood of Kenya’s capital city. Their home — their one room — has one huge bunk bed for the family, a small low table and several small stools. The space is claustrophobic, and everything looks to be made of scrap wood.
Armand was the leader in his village, and as such was asked to influence the people in his village to vote for a specific candidate in national elections. He said he would try, but he also told them, "but you don't do anything for us, so I don't think they will vote for you." He asked his village to vote for the person in question, but they did not. Armand was arrested and tortured; later a doctor helped him recover enough to flee. The doctor told Armand he had to leave the country immediately, otherwise both he and the doctor would be killed.
Armand rounded up his children, but could not find his wife, and so he and the children fled alone to Kenya. He later learned his wife was murdered, and he blames himself for not staying longer to look for her. When he arrived in Nairobi, Jesuit Refugee Service sent him to a hospital for further recovery. He has serious problems in his left eye, and his whole left side is affected by a stroke. Armand also takes part in prayer groups and JRS visits his home to provide counseling. The counseling, he said, has saved his life.
Armand does odd jobs, part time work in the neighborhood when he can, earning the equivalent of about $3.50 a day to provide for his children. They are all in school and have to pay school fees and buy uniforms, and of course they must eat.
As we celebrate Father's Day this weekend, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA honors Armand and fathers everywhere who persevere under the most severe circumstances to provide for their children. Please join us in honoring, celebrating, and praying for fathers like Armand whose love for their children inspires us all.
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