South Africa: Refugees and Blind in Johannesburg; Hope Amidst the Struggle
12 February 2016

Yoka Mosekaya, her husband, Mbura Nzambi Kuykese, and their two children came to South Africa in 2011. The entire family has been stricken with blindness. (Gushwell F. Brooks/Jesuit Refugee Service).
Mbura and Yoka are proud, independent, and despite her blindness, Yoka effortlessly walks through her apartment, cleaning and tidying up as far as she goes.

Johannesburg, 12 February 2016 – Being a refugee is not easy anywhere in the world, especially in the economically competitive environment of Johannesburg. Add to that having to live with a disability, the situation becomes unimaginable, but Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in South Africa, has come to the aid of an entire blind family.

Yoka Mosekaya, her husband, Mbura Nzambi Kuykese, and their two children came to South Africa in 2011. Mbura’s older brother was looking after the family in their home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Certain political accusations were levelled against him and so he fled the DRC. Mbura, his wife and children then came under threat. Mbura’s brother’s accusers turned their aggression toward the family.

A lady, Odette, assisted in looking after the family. One night Odette was tragically killed, Mbura suspects that it was their political persecutors who murdered her. “I remember having to crawl over her dead body.” he says. Odette’s family blamed Mbura and his family for her death and now wanted to exact retribution on them. They approached the police for assistance, but due to their ethnicity were turned away.

The intimidation continued and so a certain pastor intervened and took the family under his wing. He facilitated their escape to Lubumbashi, however, the intimidation continued and the pastor’s life was also under threat, so he paid a truck driver to bring the family to South Africa.

Mbura’s difficulties started at the age of five when his vision tragically began to fade. By the age of twelve, he was completely blind. He and Yoka met at the Centre for the Blind in their area in the DRC. The two fell in love, married and had the pleasure of bringing two children, a daughter and a son, into the world.

The peace they found in Johannesburg was however short-lived as their daughter, the eldest of the two children, started experiencing problems with her vision at the age of four. Now, aged eleven, she is completely blind. Their son, aged nine, was the family’s guide, but now he too is completely blind, despite intervening surgery.

Mbura and Yoka are proud, independent, and despite her blindness, Yoka effortlessly walks through her apartment, cleaning and tidying up as far as she goes. They do not want to be dependent on anyone, both seek employment, so that they could work for themselves and their children and earn their own money. Yoka’s desire is to attain a skill in beading, sewing and baking so that she can start her own business.

JRS has not left this family stranded. Both children are in a school for the blind that ensures that they obtain a quality education and travel to and from school safely. Their daughter boasts proudly about her achievements at school with a broad smile: “I am doing well at school, I really enjoy it.”

JRS has ensured that the family’s already difficult circumstances are alleviated. In recognising that every life is sacred and that everyone deserves happiness, freedom and security, whilst being able to sustain their survival, JRS assists the family with transportation, food and other basic needs. In facilitating their children’s enrolment at a school for the blind and JRS’s professional home-based care health workers, Marcelline Sangara and Janine Kukasheta, relentlessly looking for a medical intervention to save and restore the children’s sight, this family is being accompanied in the true sense of the word.

JRS has assisted the family, but it is their tenacity, their will to survive and their unending search for happiness that saw to them escaping their persecution and being able to raise their children in a healthy environment. The children, despite their disability are happy, having many friends to lead them about as the children play games in the courtyard of their apartment block. 







Press Contact Information
Gushwell F. Brooks
gushwell.brooks@jrs.net
+27 11 618 3404