L-R: Sally Jorgensen, Janet Ngoie, Johan Monga, Polly Beach, Ghislaine Monga, Gloriadie Monga, Elizabeth Rubli, Freddy Monga, Ken Gehrels, Tony Marcantonio

It has been roughly two weeks since Refugees in North Grenville (RING) officially welcomed their second refugee family to North Grenville. Janet Ngoie and Freddy Monga arrived with their three children, Johan, 8, Gloriadie, 6 and Ghislaine, 4, on May 29. Since then, the couple have been working at adjusting to a new home, climate, and way of life.

Originally from the Congo, Janet and Monga fled to South Africa to escape the conflict about ten years ago. All three of their children were born in Pretoria, South Africa, where they were living as stateless refugees in a two-bedroom apartment they shared with another family. “We couldn’t get a good job,” Janet says. “It was a very fragile life.”

The situation escalated quickly in South Africa, with several attacks that targeted foreigners and refugees. Monga and Janet were afraid for their lives and the future of their young family. They sat for many years on a UN list to be relocated, but it wasn’t until a few months ago that they finally found out they had been accepted to come to Canada. Janet says she was very happy when she heard the news. “That was not a life,” she says.

It is clear that the whole family is very happy and grateful to be in Canada, despite the cooler weather. The children are full of life, and so appreciative of things like having the space to run and play, and going to school. The two older children had the opportunity to visit South Branch Elementary School before they started this week, and participated in a music class, which Johan says he particularly enjoyed. Gloriadie is excited to ride on the big yellow school buses that she has seen around town, and Ghislaine can’t get over the fact that she has her own bed. “The girls kept saying how beautiful their house is,” says RING member, Elizabeth Rubli.

Monga has experience in heating, ventilation, and air conditioner installation and is looking into completing his HVAC apprenticeship to become a certified installer in Ontario. Janet was a nurse in the Congo and would like to work in the healthcare field again one day.

Janet says she is pleasantly surprised at the variety of food that is available here, adding that it is much more affordable than it was in South Africa. She also has a sister that lives in the US, with whom she has been able to talk for the first time in years. It was too expensive to phone her from South Africa: “I had to choose between calling her and buying bread,” she says.

Monga says he is very thankful to everyone who has made an effort to help them feel welcome in North Grenville. “We really want to be a part of the community and get involved in what is happening,” he says. “Thank you to everyone who has been taking such good care of us.”

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