Scisa Rumenge was born in 1981 near the town of Bunia, in eastern Congo, then known as Zaire. In the late 1990′s, he and his family — together with their entire community– were targeted on the basis of their Hema ethnic background.
After losing his parents, brother and sister to an attack on his village, Scisa fled to another part of the country, where armed men imprisoned him and other young men who refused to be recruited into their ranks. He was beaten and suffered repeated concussions. Scisa finally managed to escape, under cover of darkness, and fled to neighboring Uganda. He later made his way to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, and the UNHCR office there.
UNHCR determined that he was a refugee and sent him to live in Kakuma, a major camp for people fleeing violence and persecution across east and central Africa. He stayed for six years. Fearing to be alone, he made friends with a Somali Bajun family who adopted him informally as their son. He still suffers from nightmares: “I felt like my head was almost bursting, because the experiences I had in my mind,” he said. But he nurtured some hope that things would change. He loves music and football and filmmaking, having been introduced to film in Kakuma by the NGO FilmAid.
He was resettled to the US in 2011 and today is studying film in Seattle, Washington.
To learn more about Scisa’s account, read Melissa Fleming’s breathtaking article, “Who will tell Scisa’s story?”
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