For many years, the civil war in Cameroon has ravaged the lives of countless families, forcing them to flee their homes and abandon their communities. One family’s journey to safety in the US spanned six long years—but ended with reuniting loved ones.
Elvis, 43, lived in Cameroon as an engineer with his wife and four children when the conflict between Ambazonian militant groups and the Cameroonian government first began. With over hundreds of thousands of people displaced, the conflict has created a dangerous environment where residents face unimaginable challenges, including limited access to healthcare, disrupted education, and pervasive sexual and gender-based violence.
In the hope of a brighter future for his family, Elvis left his family in Cameroon to start a life in Washington, DC, where he planned to apply with immigration to later bring his wife and children to the U.S.
“I wanted to bring my family to the States because I knew it to be a country where human rights are practiced, a country where you are free to express yourself," says Elvis.
Upon arrival to the U.S., Elvis was linked with Community of Hope, the refugee health service provider for DC, at our Marie Reed Health Center which provides health care and workshops for refugees. Located conveniently in the Adams Morgan neighborhood, Marie Reed offers the highest quality care for all medical, dental, and emotional wellness healthcare needs, along with refugee care coordination.
This was a welcomed change for Elvis. “In Cameroon, there is nearly no medical care. If you don’t have enough money to get the help you need, you will likely die,” he says. “Dr. Gerstenmaier at Community of Hope has been my primary doctor in the States. He calls me when he hasn’t seen me for a while to make sure I am doing okay. He cares about my well-being and is very professional.”
While Elvis began securing a life for himself in the States, he worked diligently for six years to relocate his family as well. Along the way, they have encountered unimaginable hardships and obstacles, yet they have never lost sight of their goal: reuniting with their loved ones and building a better future.
In April 2022, Elvis received word that his wife and children were approved to move to the United States. For Elvis’ wife, Presica, the time she spent as a single mother in Cameroon protecting her children was an act of survival.
“It feels good to be here; we feel much safer,” says Presica. “We have received really good care from Community of Hope. I am very appreciative of all they have done for us.”
In September 2022, the children started second, fifth, and ninth grade, and the oldest plans to enroll in nursing school. “It is my dream that my daughter can get her college education and one day become a nurse at Community of Hope,” says Elvis. “God bless all the people at Community of Hope for providing help to the public.”
As Washington, DC, continues to welcome migrants from around the world fleeing from crisis, Community of Hope is here to collaboratively provide trauma-informed care to these new neighbors.
For Elvis and Presica, their journey was a long and arduous one, but finally, after six years, they celebrated a reunion—a symbol of hope and resilience. The family's story is a poignant reminder of the ongoing struggle faced by so many families affected by conflict and displacement. Their warm welcome in DC and at Community of Hope is an opportunity for each of us to be hospitable and generous in creating a refuge for migrants.