Giving Back and Remembering 9/11

“If One Hurts, All Hurt,” An Interview with Niragira Alexis

When it comes to giving back to the community, it warms our hearts when one of the refugees served by WTAP is able to give back and help newly arriving families who are in the same position as they once were. Niragira Alexis is a great example of this and he was recently interviewed by the Arizona Republic to give his insight on the 9/11 attacks from the viewpoint of a refugee.

Q. Do you remember hearing of those attacks in New York and Washington?

A. Yes, I do very well. It was one of the mornings back in the refugee Camp in Tanzania when I woke up and turned on the stereo. I got informed of those tragic attacks in those areas.

Q. Now that you are an American resident, does 9-11 mean anything to you? If so what?

A. It breaks my heart because conflicts and attacks bring down everything, causing materials and people to perish. That problem did not only affect America, it affected a large number in the world, even us in the refugee camp we were affected because the amount of cereal, beans, peas, flour, soap, and salt were reduced. Being in U.S.A. now, I am affected because all Americans are experiencing the consequences of those attacks.

As the motto of United States: “E Pluribus Unum.” “Out of many, one” so if one hurts, all hurt. Now I am in American society, so I am hurt with them.

Q. Why did you decide to volunteer, and then work for The Welcome to America Project? How important has the agency been to you?

A. I love to work for this organization in order to help them to achieve their goal of supporting people in their needs. Initially, they showed an awesome kindness to help people who sought refuge after fleeing Afghanistan after 9/11, and now they help new refugees who come from all countries where there is war. They help them as they helped me when I came to the U.S.A. in 2008. They came to my unit with a group of people – young and old – with arms full with gifts, furniture, etc. They shook our hands, and they placed those items where they should go and told us how we should keep them. My wife and I were astonished by this good welcome and unforgettable care.

About Alexis:

Niragira Alexis was born in Burundi, which is in the middle of East Central Africa. His family fled the war in Burundi and came to Congo (formerly Zaire) where they stayed in a refugee camp in Tanzania for 13 years. In the refugee camp, he graduated with a certification to teach at an elementary school, and met his wife Ninteretse Estella.

Niragira currently lives in Phoenix with his wife and four children, and has been working at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport while also taking classes at Phoenix College to become a teacher in the US. You can read his full profile on our Board & Staff page.

Read another recent Arizona Republic article about WTAP.

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