New Roots is the story of the Kamali family’s first year in America after fleeing the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They lived for four years as refugees in Ethiopia before they were finally able to resettle in a permanent new home. They arrived in Rochester, N.Y. on Tuesday, February 4, 2014, exhausted and excited to start a new life in America.
Over the course of the year, each member of the Kamali family adjusted to life in America at their own pace. Nyirazana is a widowed mother of six. When she arrived, she spoke no English and was disabled due to a spinal injury. Her brother, Muhire, stepped in as the patriarch of the family and helped them build a new life. They faced barriers in language, transportation and making a living but they said there was no other place they would rather be.
“When you are starting a new life, everything is difficult. You have to be able to stand for it. If I have been able to stand for my life in insecurity, it is easier to stand for my life when I have stability. In time, everything becomes easier.” -Muhire
Their story is told through an interactive website that combines images, audio, text and graphics. The First Comes Trust exhibition features a portrait series of Nyirazana.