You’re new to the United States, new to Utah. Before you can even adjust to the unfamiliarity of the city, someone suddenly turns to you and calls you something derogatory. They ridicule you. They ridicule you based on the color of your skin. This is what Flavia Mukasa, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, experienced when she first arrived in Utah a year ago.
When Sarah Beaumont, finance manager at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Salt Lake City, heard what had happened, she approached Flavia and encouraged her to write about her experience to help process the interaction. Flavia only needed a friendly push in the right direction. According to Flavia, all she needed was somebody with a little more experience, like Sarah, to inspire her to explore a newfound talent: writing. Since then, she’s written several pieces, balancing her empathic awareness towards other people with honest reflection about her own emotional state. This, however, is her first time sharing her writing with the public. As you can imagine, she is both excited and nervous.
During the pandemic, Flavia has been reflecting on fear and the way people need to think about each other. “It is raining outside so you want to buy all the umbrellas and keep them in your house, then what about others?” Together, though, she believes people in Utah can work to create a “better dancing hall” to dance in this rain. Flavia often writes about love, especially love in a religious context. Flavia is an individual of serious faith. She believes in the strength of love. For her, she sees this love most prominently when people support each other. She is sensitive to the lives around her. “The city is so calm and quiet, but I never want to put myself in the center and forget that there are other people around me,” she writes.
Next on Flavia’s agenda is a book. She wants to write an inspirational memoir about not giving up. “Here I am today,” she said in awe. She wants to demonstrate how far she has come despite what she has lived through. First, though, she wants to appreciate where she is today by settling into her new life.
“With the support of IRC Team, we are what we are today.” She writes in her piece. “Their team’s hard work has enabled us to dance in this rain...They have stood with us from day one. It is due to them that we are familiar with some corners of Salt Lake City. Amazing love!”
May was an important month for Flavia, not only did she celebrate her birthday but her one-year anniversary in the United States, as well. Welcome Flavia, we cannot wait to read what you write next.
Continue to support refugees, like Flavia, who come to the U.S. seeking safety, but also for the new opportunities afforded them, such as becoming an author, by contributing a gift at Rescue.org/GiveSLC.