Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Kikoko L. Godfrey, March 27, 2015

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:03 - Growing up, schooling, and work in Congo

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Partial Transcript: I'm Jack Wilson--

Segment Synopsis: Kikoko L. Godfrey was born in a village in Kivu Province but moved to Kalemie, Katanga Province where his father worked as a carpenter for a Belgian company. Then he moved back to Kivu where he did secondary school. Then he did two years of medical training at a college in 1990. His schooling was in French but he also spoke Swahili. He then worked for five years at Hospital Diocoma Nundu, run by American Free Methodist missionaries.

Keywords: American missionaries; Hospitals; Jobs; Kalemie, Katanga Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Katanga Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Subjects: Democratic Republic of the Congo; Education; Employment

GPS: Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Map Coordinates: -2.5, 28
GPS: Katanga Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Map Coordinates: -11.133333, 27.1
GPS: Kalemie, Katanga Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Map Coordinates: -5.933333, 29.2
00:09:06 - Working in Burundi, return to Congo and fleeing to Tanzania, later Namibia

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Partial Transcript: And then what happened?

Segment Synopsis: Godfrey spent two years in Burundi working with Doctors Without Borders, taking his wife and three children. But then war happened there and he returned to Congo and began working in a government hospital in Uvira. In October 1996 war started in his province in Congo. They fled to Tanzania this time, with four children, taking a canoe across Lake Tanganyika. In 1997 there was a little peace in Congo and UNHCR repatriated them. But in 1998 the war began again and they took a ship across Lake Tanganyika to Zambia and then on to Namibia.

Keywords: Burundi; Doctors Without Borders; Fleeing war; Jobs; Namibia; Tanzania; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); Uvira, South Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of Congo

Subjects: Democratic Republic of the Congo; Employment; Refugees

GPS: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Map Coordinates: -3, 24
GPS: Tanzania
Map Coordinates: -6, 35
GPS: Namibia
Map Coordinates: -22, 17
GPS: Burundi
Map Coordinates: -3.5, 30
GPS: Uvira, South Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of Congo
Map Coordinates: -3.4, 29.15
00:23:13 - Refugee camp in Namibia

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Partial Transcript: So tell me, tell me something about life there.

Segment Synopsis: Godfrey describes life in a refugee camp. One has to get a pass to go out of the camp. He says the schools were taught in English so his seven children speak better English than he does. He worked for the Red Cross in food distribution and then later at a clinic in the camp.

Keywords: Jobs; Red Cross; Restrictions; Schools; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Subjects: Education; Employment; Namibia; Refugee camps; Refugees

GPS: Namibia
Map Coordinates: -22, 17
00:29:49 - Applying to be a refugee in another country

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Partial Transcript: And then what happened? How did you happen to come to the United States?

Segment Synopsis: Godfrey describes going to UNHCR in 2005 to ask for opportunities for his children. All family members above the age of 15 were interviewed by immigration officials, including Homeland Security. He knew the U.S. was peaceful and his children would have opportunity for education and jobs. They arrived in Lexington, Kentucky on November 27, 2013.

Keywords: Homeland Security; Lexington (Ky.); Peaceful; Refugee process; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Subjects: Emigration and immigration.; Immigrants--Kentucky; Refugees

GPS: Namibia
Map Coordinates: -22, 17
GPS: Lexington (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.029722, -84.494722
00:37:50 - Arriving and living in the United States

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Partial Transcript: Is the United States what you thought it was going to be?

Segment Synopsis: Godfrey talks about good things in the U.S.: there is no war, and he could not have afforded school fees at home for his ten children. The two oldest, 26 and 24, have loans to attend the community college. His wife is working in housekeeping at University of Kentucky and he at housekeeping at the Family Care Center. Pisgah Presbyterian Church sponsored them, gave them a car and clothes. Kentucky Refugee Ministry provided assistance, such as rent assistance for the first three months.

Keywords: Assistance; Financial aid; Kentucky Refugee Ministry; Peace; Pisgah Presbyterian Church; School fees

Subjects: Emigration and immigration.; Immigrants--Kentucky

GPS: Lexington (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.029722, -84.494722
00:45:36 - Difficulties and easy things

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Partial Transcript: Uh, had you ever thought about coming to the United States--

Segment Synopsis: Godfrey says the hardest adjustments have been cultural. Here he has to pay for so many bills -- water, electricity, etc. Medical bills are very high. They begin to understand how taxes are being used in comparison to Africa -- roads here are better. It is easy to get a job, the government is pushing education. The children are doing well in school. He takes ESL classes. He also learned Portuguese when he was in the refugee camp with people from Angola.

Keywords: Bills; Bluegrass Community and Technical College; Education; English as a second language (ESL); Job opportunities; Portuguese; Role of government

Subjects: Immigrants--Kentucky

GPS: Lexington (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.029722, -84.494722
00:55:38 - Communication with family

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Partial Transcript: So do you have any other relatives in the United States?

Segment Synopsis: Godfrey has a cousin in Rhode Island who came as a refugee from Tanzania. He has sister-in-laws in Mozambique, Namibia, and Tanzania. They talk on the cell phone and use email and Facebook. He has said, "I am tired of America and want to go back to Africa, and my kids say, 'Dad, you will go back alone.'"

Keywords: Cell phones; Family; Mozambique; Tanzania

Subjects: Communication; Families.; Immigrants--Kentucky

GPS: Rhode Island
Map Coordinates: 41.7, -71.5
GPS: Mozambique
Map Coordinates: -18.25, 35
GPS: Namibia
Map Coordinates: -22, 17
GPS: Tanzania
Map Coordinates: -6, 35
00:59:01 - Unpleasant experiences

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Partial Transcript: Uh, l, let me ask you something else.

Segment Synopsis: Godfrey talks about his fear of getting sick in this country, and what is taken out of his salary for taxes and insurance. But there are food stamps and his wife had eye surgery.

Keywords: Deductions from paycheck; Insurance; Taxes

Subjects: Immigrants

01:03:21 - Questions people ask

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Partial Transcript: Uh, when you meet Americans and talk with them, what, um, what kinds of questions do people ask you...

Segment Synopsis: People are asking "Why did you come? Are you happy here?" He explains that Africa is a big continent, that there are 52 countries. People here are learning about African cultures.

Keywords: Ignorance

Subjects: Immigrants

01:08:21 - Nursing training in U.S.

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Partial Transcript: Do you think you've experienced any kind of discrimination since you've been here?

Segment Synopsis: Godfrey says he has not experienced discrimination. He went through clinical nurse assistant training and is waiting to take the state examination.

Keywords: Clinical nursing assistants; Discrimination; Nursing training

Subjects: Education

01:13:15 - War in Congo

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Partial Transcript: When I heard like, uh, you are going to meet African immigrant to talk to ask some questions about Africa...

Segment Synopsis: He talks about war, which he says is something for politicians. He mentions Mobutu and Kabila, each wanting to be president.

Keywords: Democratic Republic of the Congo; Kabila; Mobutu; Politicians

Subjects: War

GPS: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Map Coordinates: -3, 24