Joseph and Angelique. refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, with their daughter

We are originally from Congo but we lived in a refugee camp in Burundi for ten years. Leaving our country to live in a refugee camp was not easy at all. So, when we found out that we will be leaving the camp to come here, we were very happy.

The first thing we experienced here was the bad weather – we arrived in November and we couldn’t believe how cold it was here! This was different from where we were coming from.

I recently started working at a factory packaging food which gets sent to shops. I work mostly night shifts. I am very happy at work. I would be happy doing any job – but this is a good job. If I learn English, it would be great for me. If my English was good, I would be able to get another, more permanent job and do what I want freely. It is so important to learn English.

Back home we learnt some English but it was not a lot. I started going to an adult learning centre here but one day a week is not enough, but I will start proper English classes in September.

What is great about English people, is that they never laugh at you. They never laugh at me if I say something wrong in English. They tell me that my English is good and they encourage me to speak. So, I don’t feel shy about trying to speak English.

One of the things that makes me really happy is this house. Every time I sit here and I look at it, I say ‘wow!’ On top of that, seeing my children go to school makes me very happy.

Back at home, sometimes we struggled to get the food that we want – but here, we no longer have to deal with this kind hardship.

I have very good neighbours.

My neighbours help us with so many things. They taught me how to cut the grass. They showed me how to pack the grass into bags. They also gave my children many toys for the garden. Whenever my kids are playing outside with the other kids, the neighbours give them snacks. They always tell their kids to share their toys with my son. They are so kind to my children.

My other neighbours also help me with using the computer. If I have any problems, they just come over and help me with it. They also give me lifts to the shop, which is really nice of them.

They are very good neighbours and it makes me very happy. I always feel that they do things from the heart.

Caroline, our caseworker, is great. She is very helpful. If we didn’t have her, there is a lot that we could not have done. We receive many letters here and many of them have deadlines. If Caroline doesn’t help us, then we would not be able to deal with them. They help me a lot – Refugee Action is great. And I feel that they love me.

I like to play the keyboard.

I play the keyboard at church on Sundays. I used to do the same thing back at home. I go to local African churches in Bradford, Sheffield, Manchester to play music.

I love playing music. When I play music, I remember my home and my friends – It is nice that I can do this here and play songs from back home.

I wish I could do more with my music. I wish I had a keyboard at home so I can practice.

Through church, we have met new people and made friends. We meet outside the church as well. It makes us very happy.

It is all about learning the language. Once I can learn the language, I will be able to do more. The language is always the barrier, so it is important for us to learn English in order to integrate and rebuild our lives.