SPOKANE, Wash. - Two years ago, Shadrack Mungualinipa escaped war and violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to find a new future in America with his family. He may be only 10 years old, but Mungualinipa already has a deep appreciation for his freedom.
"It was about to be war. So, I'm glad that I didn't go into the war. I'm glad that I came here. Then I found a better life," Mungualinipa said.
Sunday, Mungualinipa was front and center atop the stage at the Life Center Church, with the Neema Youth Choir, made up entirely of refugee children. He and the choir were part of World Relief Spokane's gathering to celebrate the 10,000 refugee welcomed to Spokane. Dedieu Wilonbja, 10, is one of those refugees. She came to America from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She still remembers when she found out she was coming to the U.S.
"I was so excited I was coming to America. I was like, this is amazing," Wilonbja said.
She and Mungualinipa are some of the lucky ones. More than 65 million people around the world have been forced from home, among them, more than 20 million refugees. Over half of those refugees are children. World Relief Spokane Director Mark Finney said this refugee crisis is historic.
"The need is huge for people to find new opportunities in places like the U.S. where they can come and just have a chance to raise their kids in a place that is safe and they can maybe even get an education," Finney said.
World Relief Spokane works with refugees to find them a safe place to live, a job, and a welcoming community. So far, they've resettled 10,002 refugees since opening the organization's doors in Eastern Washington in 1989.
"If you can get into a relationship with these people to understand where they are coming from, what they've been through and how thoroughly they're screened before they get here, that will go a long way toward understanding what this is all about," Finney said.
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