Refugee shares perspective on being American, US politics

 

HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — As campaigns intensify during the final days  of the midterm elections, a refugee shared her unique perspective on  what it means to be an American.

Rebecca Deng was born in a  village in what is now South Sudan, but now she is an American citizen  living in Holland. The journey that brought her to the United States 17  years ago was a difficult one.

Her village had not felt effects of  the Sudanese Civil War, but one day it was attacked. Her mother could  not get away to safety because she was in labor. Soldiers burned  down the entire village, leaving the villagers with nothing.

Deng  lost her mother after the attack and her father was killed while  fighting to liberate the country. She was forced to travel with her  uncle's family to a refugee camp in Kenya, where food and infrastructure  were scarce.  

"The opinion of the local people was that we were  coming in to take their land or something. There were no police you  could call if you were attacked,” Deng said.

She said there were  all kinds of trauma and abuse that happened at the camp. Deng spent  eight years there, eventually applying for refugee status in the U.S.  The application process, which included interviews and background  checks, took about a year.

"Something happened in the refugee camp  three days before I left. Four months after I arrived (in Holland), we  found out I was pregnant", Deng explained.

She didn't tell anyone about what happened, saying it was too traumatic. She figured she would never see that place again.

"I  was going to a new country, going to start my life over. Little did I  know that I was carrying the consequences of what happened," she said.

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