Beatrice Uwimpuhwe and Aimee Zangandou

Recorded January 30, 2021 Archived January 27, 2021 41:16 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: atl004353


Aimee Zangandou (39) talks with her mother, Beatrice Uwimpuhwe (67), to remember and share their family's resettlement story which began in Rwanda in 1994.

Subject Log / Time Code

Aimee Zangandou (39) says she was born in Rwanda. She says prior to 1994, she never thought about anything political.
Beatrice Uwimpuhwe (67) says she was a social worker at that time (1994). Aimee says her father also worked full time. She says they were probably middle class.
Beatrice remembers they had just paid off their house which had taken 6 years to build.
Aimee remembers a neighbor knocking on the door early one morning and asking for Beatrice. Aimee says she was surprised to discover that her mother was not home.
Beatrice says a plane carrying Rwanda's president had been shot down. Beatrice says she had been visiting a friend when the roads were blocked. She says there was a curfew and many people were being killed. She says it took her a week to get home.
Aimee remembers being 13 years old when this occurred. She says she was alone with her 3 siblings. She says her father was out of the country for training.
Beatrice remembers needing a military escort to rejoin her children. She says the killing continued while people fled the country.
Beatrice remembers seeing the body of her neighbor being eaten by a dog.
Aimee remembers her mom's plan to split up the kids. Aimee says she and her 6 year old brother were going to stay with their paternal grandmother.
Beatrice says the war spread everywhere. She says they all had to keep moving on foot.
Aimee remembers ending up in a refugee camp in the Congo. She says many people died of cholera.
Beatrice talks about finding her husband and being resettled to the United States.
Aimee says it was 1997, and she only knew about Atlanta, Georgia, because of the Olympics.
Beatrice and Aimee talk about being welcomed at the airport. They talk about the help their family received with getting an apartment and jobs. Aimee says people brought them food and provided transportation.
Aimee remembers starting high school in the United States and not speaking English.
Aimee thanks her mother for her courage.


  • Beatrice Uwimpuhwe
  • Aimee Zangandou

Recording Location

Virtual Recording

Venue / Recording Kit

Partnership Type




StoryCorps uses Google Cloud Speech-to-Text and Natural Language API to provide machine-generated transcripts. Transcripts have not been checked for accuracy and may contain errors. Learn more about our FAQs through our Help Center or do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions.

00:01 We are now recording.

00:06 My name is mac and Andrew. I am 39 years old today Saturday, January 30th, 2021. I am in my house in Lilburn, Georgia, and my partner is my mom batteries.

00:26 My name is Beatrice.

00:31 I am 67 years old.

00:34 Today is the Saturday January 30th.

00:40 20 mm 21

00:45 I live in DeKalb Georgia, but now I'm in my house.

00:56 Emmett is my Dora and is my partner today.

01:05 What's up, Mom? Want to talk about?

01:16 About a word

01:18 Refugee resettlement story or life back home and Rhonda, so

01:29 Growing. Of course. I was born in Kenya and Rwanda.

01:35 And

01:37 Growing up

01:41 You know, that's was good. I

01:45 I never thought

01:47 Of anything

01:49 Party, call prior to

01:54 Two and a half penny 1994 digital side

02:00 I had very good friends in a good school.

02:08 Three siblings

02:11 But can you tell me for your perspective?

02:20 How is life? How is Xbox coming grinder?

02:26 Like the one that was very good.

02:30 I really enjoyed.

02:34 Are you awesome?

02:36 Associa World Cup

02:40 Working with Catholic Social Services

02:45 Inyarwanda

02:49 Or my kids wedding is cool.

02:53 Bianca stores at 6 years old

02:58 Just starting Elementary School Bus worked outside the home.

03:13 Yes.

03:16 End

03:18 And I remember growing up we had a house. He was in normal house helping middle-class house in Kigali, and I remember you talking about taking off the house.

03:33 Thanks, almost like it was like a a a conversation at dinner table. Can you tell me a little bit about?

03:42 That you know how long I mean, how long did you take you to build a house?

03:51 What does 6 years to build a house?

03:58 It was it was a nice house.

04:03 With did borrow some money.

04:07 I thought I'm always at the Finish to pay off the lawn.

04:13 Auntie enjoy it

04:16 Then that's when we start a long journey.

04:21 Mortgage in the State House quite long time to go with my mortgage with your mortgage

04:31 What difference would that have made in?

04:36 Intervening or raining

04:39 In your life because I remember when I was asking for something in you you always say well we need to finish paying the house and in and then the way we we can farmers.

04:54 Where was the house?

05:06 Is no. Easy so we have to sacrifice a lot of things.

05:13 For sure, the kids was not receiving anything they want to and therefore has also when not ready it stay.

05:30 Different guys are buying anything. We really would like to buy we have to sacrifice something go to Waze when you are big thing a house.

05:43 The bridge

05:52 And

05:54 Can you tell me?

06:01 I guess you can jump to two.

06:05 David Knight where everything really life changed forever for us and I remember

06:18 And it was early morning and I remember waking up in the morning. Can somebody knock on the door neighbor, you know him he can't he was coming to talk to you because of what had just happened the night before in and I was the first one to wake up. I expected you to open the door, but didn't know why so I looked in the window and I saw that it was them in and I went to open the window in the door.

06:50 When I put a door that said, okay, you know, what is your mom and I went to your room and you are not there.

06:58 I came back and told the neighbors that you were not there and I remember that the real big shots because it was really money. So they expected you to be home, especially everything that have happened.

07:11 The new impact, so can you can you tell us a tell me to touch on why you when you are not home?

07:22 Elias

07:27 The plane carrying the president was the

07:32 Shut down.

07:37 I was coming from visiting a friend.

07:46 Then

07:49 It was a very long night because on the way.

07:54 I was just stuck there for the whole night.

08:02 Condom

08:05 I wasn't stuck so close at 2.

08:10 Turn off the the president and everything the road way proust.

08:21 The direction where the plane was shot down exactly everywhere and you are stuck on one of the

08:35 Red ball

08:39 Ben is it took me all night to get to the presents the friend house. Then I was a stuck there for a week.

08:51 Because there was a curfew no one was supposed to get out from home.

08:58 It was a Journey of Faith.

09:08 Maybe not even I get 20 minutes in the car to to get from.

09:15 From where you where it's our house now and then

09:25 Every person no one was supposed to get out from her from the house. So I wasn't there waiting to update if we can get out.

09:40 How

09:44 And I don't know if you want to change what happened with the people where you're hiding with you. Is that is that something that. Weeks. When the killing started?

10:13 Thought they killed a lot of people.

10:18 To I knew because we went so desperate to have a nothing.

10:28 Actually nothing to eat.

10:31 Do we have to try to get somebody out there to see if we can buy some some food and fruit and that was a very very sore and then

10:46 That's when we knew we learned.

10:51 It is a lot of people that has been killed and they still going on.

11:01 In down

11:05 You know, I ain't so you ain't going for for her week and it was just as I was its myself my my older sister in in three Young Brother enough to to worry so much, but we were old enough to know exactly what was going on and

11:41 And 1994 there were no cell phones. Then you are not able to to call.

11:51 And let us know where you way. We did have a 6-1 by even that phone for some reason. I mean really hoping that you call and let us know but we didn't hear anything anything for for her entire week. Where was your dad?

12:11 So that's another story has just left the country. He was going to a training. He got a training to go to 20. J38 is 3 days before January 6th 1990 for kids.

12:49 You know for kids don't know exactly where we going to do, but

12:58 You know the neighbor who knock on our door. Morning in 8th, January 6th. He came back in the evening to just check to see if my mom was there and she wasn't there. So he took his skin it took us his house because he knew what was happening and frankly. He didn't tell us this, but she didn't believe that she was going to come back anytime soon come back at all. So, can you

13:34 How how did you make it home? How how did you?

13:39 Also a new coach trying and in trying to get her situation to see if she can actually

13:47 Take the adventure of trying to get home. How is that? They took place? What what made you think that you could actually?

13:58 Making home if you remember no.

14:04 I go to speak to one one family. One friend family.

14:14 On the 3rd Bass that the country now, it's almost empty. Everybody was playing.

14:25 And to be able to get out now when you discard.

14:32 How to have a military to escort you if not, you can be killed at any time so he

14:45 It's called for me.

14:50 To go to to to go to Jordan the kids.

14:56 Yeah, that was so difficult to but I do finally.

15:02 I may I join my kids.

15:07 On the dot time it was so critical that I have now to organize to take them out of the city because not everybody was exhausted.

15:22 Play a going out and the killing whale still going on.

15:31 So it's a it's take me almost another week to find a way to get out from Tecate from the city.

15:44 I remember when you

15:47 You know when you came when you got home finally after whole week.

15:52 And we had so many questions. We have so many questions and I remember you not wanting to say much about what have happened.

16:03 And even that after I don't I don't think you said much about what happened. But that does Besa me something so all the details of what happened when you were missing girl when when you were missing lady from us.

16:22 Play seven days in or so.

16:33 Before you decided that

16:38 It was finally Sunny time to to leave. I remember that you went out.

16:46 You where you went out to go for food because we have been in the house by that time. I'll be over a week 10 days to weeks almost came back. I think you went to.

17:01 To church. I don't know how to say that in English, and we wouldn't have any more food in the house. And I remember when you came back.

17:23 I remember that's when he decided that was time to leave because I think it said, you know, it wouldn't leave too far from the church. It was maybe a

17:32 Maybe 10 minutes walk. But you said that why you saw

17:40 On the street on the street

17:57 On The Run 2 exactly where I was going

18:05 What was that? I saw that the neighbor was never that was being or finishing been eating with a dog a dog on the street and it that was exhausted and threaten the skeleton of the person.

18:40 That was that was that was the end of staying any more night for me in the city so that when I went back home, I didn't have a nothing to tell the kids I was so.

19:01 I was so shocked. I was at the shop that was too hard to text your children that you saw you they labor in the back.

19:13 Yesterday

19:16 Yahoo

19:28 That it was happening that you know that that was just a the street.

19:37 I see a image in my head and I remember you came home. And you said

19:43 Remember that was not home. So it's just you trying to figure out how to get out for kids by yourself. And I remember you telling me that we have to go I can't take all four of you because we have a car so he was making people and friends and people to to get to get us out of the city and you have to choose you actually find someone had to choose two kids say I can't take care of your kids right now, but I had to choose to remember you told me that I have to go and I have to go with my youngest brother since I was 13 and you give me my brother who was 6 in the 60s.

20:34 And I remember. Oh, I'm so many questions like what me and then I have to take my brother because frankly, I mean it was scary TV 2 minutes okay here, but you send us to our grand mother likes our paternal grandmother.

20:56 And you told us to just park.

21:00 He was one bag. It's a pack to change of clothes and don't park in the shoes. You take you get to take the shoes that you have on yourself because there's not enough room in the car to pick anything else. So we did do if you know where the first the first two to leave then you stayed behind with my sister and my other brother.

21:26 Entryway there for maybe two weeks before you were able to.

21:35 To join us you yourself and my other two siblings, and I also know that

21:44 You came not meaning to stay because you are so had another family dinner at home and you're afraid that.

21:55 Do I have any food?

21:58 Because they're going to go out. So you have to go back in when did you know go back? And I mean, I know that was the plan.

22:06 I never thought when I went out I mean no come back I did that is the point.

22:15 Saw when I left that was almost the end. I should know couple to go back because now the word was everywhere you go when I arrive there now that was two days after it was time again to leave that Villas because the water was there or so.

22:48 Leaving the city. So when can I arrive at my dad's mom my mother you thought I was going to go back.

23:10 But then I remember right after you you came I mean

23:18 Nissan Metairie coming the end. Everybody was was so scared that we started to it again. And this time we are on foot and I know that we have an aunt who lived in the next Village and we started the journey trying to figure out another walk score.

23:44 The whole day the whole day and we spend the night. I can remember was was it?

23:53 We didn't reach today to put that say I know it took us three days to get there.

23:58 So I don't even remember how we slept thousand and we beg to to stay up there and I think they so when you say that, you know, you said that about her grandfather, they probably knew him some have heard of him. So people that has just crashed and spend the night and then it would continue.

24:24 And for the sake of time, I don't know if you can talk about how long it took to get to the next to the next biggest city.

24:36 Summarize, how do I said what am I what the Warriors start there? So we have to leave or so because that was that it was the word there too. So now we have to leave to go to

25:02 I can say at another department.

25:07 Another city is another Syria big one very far away again.

25:13 It's okay, How many days until three days in the car couple of weeks reached the border of of Congo and we stayed stayed there before I leave so it's okay because I believe that

25:46 Not noticed that whenever I go back, I think we all waiting to see if things got better listen to the radio to see what's happening. So

25:56 Is it took us through these three months from the day that will last a home today? Tell me where where we decided that it was time to cross the border waiting to get into Congo and I don't know. What was the point in telling me what was going through your head to which I think part of me in in my young thug memory. I was sitting in that we cannot get to give to go back home.

26:46 I didn't wish that much to go back. Are you always hoping maybe to get in communication with my husband with all of my kids?

27:07 Which happened so difficult because I have a game to cross to go in another country Burundi to be able to get that communication.

27:42 Sojourn Congo. What do you know where we going? We are actually it was a crisis for the card and ended up in a refugee camp.

27:53 We end up in detention in Congo in the remember.

28:09 How many people died of of Carrera in a Wii?

28:17 I don't know. I don't know how it survived. I remember that one point of time. We would have learned that that your sister and your brother and the kids that all.

28:29 Iodine Rich to Camp because of Carrera from that war before. I mean myself my sister and my brother only three survived, but my brother also had to pass how many years in jail even though he's still alive.

29:06 Yeah of time so we are in the Congo.

29:13 We you are trying to reach died in La him know that and through.

29:21 I think what's really a miracle, you know, you heard from him and he is asking you if you can come to to call girls that that that he said his his training is over and he is looking to come by, and I remember you traveling again. I have to go back tomorrow d610 another fax telling him that no no no. No, no that that you

30:10 Can you let him know that this is not a place for him to come?

30:16 Ben 10 through

30:18 Chinese connections we

30:23 We're able to join him in this year. And that's where we get to apply for it to come to the u.s.

30:37 Did you know I mean, I guess you knew that way coming to to to Atlanta, but did you know did you know anyone in the US?

30:48 Will you give me a choice? I don't know. I already don't remember what this is. But where you given a choice, so way to come when you finally got your not that the process they were asking me if you don't have any choice.

31:09 Where you want to go in the United States? Of course, we didn't know we never been in the United States. So they choose.

31:21 Yeah.

31:23 The bitch husband and I remember when they say Atlanta Georgia when you were just too cuz that's Happy 1996. So we need to address that was located just because to to giorgia whatsoever. And I remember that we got about was it a week. I don't know what I would have to be waiting for almost six months a year. And we finally got a message that we leaving in like 4 days. Was it a week that it was really shy because I know it's time to end all this time of a chance to clean the place where we had that was.

32:22 Put it on anyone in the US, but we're very very happy very happy you say what's 3 family who got to travel with us to travel together at until New York.

32:57 So the two families West Virginia and we came to Atlanta and arriving at the airport. We

33:09 The way people waiting for us, right? They have a big banner that says welcome to America. It was a group of maybe eight nine people time. Was it for 9:11? So people could I have to travel all the way to the gate welcome to America and other time it is actually there for us because you know, if anybody was going to be trying to figure out like my dad cuz she was of English. So it was at the front and he was going to be the one to figure everything out so that they you know, we had about I am back to GSN. That's the way to identify.

34:09 And I can't forget.

34:12 How happy the way that they have found us like the joy that can do a hacking and I think he was like enjoying both sides for a second or so for them that they get to to work on my family to the US, you know, they're trying to tell us the name and trying to tell them our names.

34:33 And what happened next I think so they drove us to

34:39 To apartment about to get the first job. They find a job for me and they found a job for my husband and I was eventually I was a fortunate to find a job helping refugees here in Atlanta.

35:09 And in my perspective of things really.

35:17 On the group that welcomed us and help us to

35:26 Integrating our lives here in Georgia apartment my sister wish Aiden room and then matter Brothers Shady Romanian have your own room and I remember

35:47 Aimee come for the refugee camp. I know we went to jail for a few times and we all had was two bedroom house and all four of us.

36:14 People taking turns to bring us food and them taking turns to transport us places because this was in Stone Mountain Gwinnett County with no public transportation anywhere. They wanted to go we have to find him to have someone who would take us from point A to point B in are in remember sitting in the health clinic to get a immunization shots. And that was a really it was like a whole day can a process tired day.

36:53 To make sure that we have the right to get back home.

36:59 And also didn't trust me. It's not a journal of three weeks or 1 month. It took a while to find a job. I don't remember when maybe three months or so. Why did he find a job and it was through their connections and my dad a job a drop of that first stroke and a second job connection and I hit myself really.

37:42 Gina S7 have

37:46 Contacts with Wolves without group, but I remember that so at that point in 1997. I am cool. It just started a nice great with no English in and I remember that they will match me to buy did, you know probably one of the kids to families with kids go to the same school that was going to make sure that that didn't match with someone so when someone get divorced and someone who that should that I knew that I could

38:21 Fake home support to ask them the One World Cup in English. Can you toss them for something? So that's something we're so bad. I would tell her that I'll never forget and remember it's going to summer school so I can finish high school and and then you're probably working and no one was at home. So you was Otis ready through the whole thing and make sure that I had a ride for the whole summer so I can make up for the lost time so I can graduate.

38:54 So are you?

38:57 I really owe so much quite a bit so that to that family calls our I think we'll have food.

39:04 We're both so different looks so different today if it wasn't for a group of people.

39:13 Who?

39:15 How many took the time to invest in in in in our family now that we made it here?

39:39 Well, I think we're going to end that he end up here can probably come by can record unless the story of integration in details here in Georgia. Thank you so much, Mom. Thank you for

39:55 Sitting with me recording this story. I know that your courage through.

40:03 Play Ink by yourself with four kids was not easy. So thank you for your courage in 22 document about part of.

40:16 Then you work hard to build where they are today. Make me make me delete. I mean pleasure to have worked for kids that didn't understand why you came here.

40:52 Specially for you.