Episode 2: Welcome to our podcast dealing with issues related to immigrants and refugees. In today’s episode, we’ll take time to listen to Executive Director Kevin Uyisenga’s personal story. There are some tragedies that, over time, were turned into a story of hope and giving back. It’s the essence of See Forward Ministries. This story explains the heart behind the mission.
Kevin was born in Rwanda, located in central, eastern Africa. He grew up in a family with three siblings. His father was a businessman and his mother was a nurse. The first 10 years of his life were happy and full of love. He received a good education in a thriving city. It’s what many of us might call “normal.”
In 1994, the genocide erupted. Life as Kevin knew it changed one night in April. The factions killed +1,000,000 people in 100 days. Kevin’s life was surrounded by death. That April night, a group came to his house. They were going to attack his parents and family. Kevin and his siblings fled and escaped with their housekeeper.
They sought refuge in a church, but the killers were also attacking the people in local churches. Later that evening they found their parents. As they made their way back to their house, the streets were covered in blood. It was from neighbors and childhood friends. It’s a memory most people wouldn’t be able to forget.
The family spent months as refugees. Kevin eventually moved into an orphanage, owed by an American missionary, Arlene. She needed someone to help translate and help with other activities. As a kid, Kevin as living there and began helping to grow the orphanage.
Taking a Chance
After about 2 years of working closely with Arlene, she approached him to return the favor. The one thing Kevin asked for was an opportunity to come to America. The process took time, but eventually worked. In 2007, Kevin immigrated to the United States.
Kevin experienced a transition that many of the immigrants and refugees he helps have also experienced. They’re a significant period of adjustment for anyone who moves to a different country and with a new culture.
Arlene asked Kevin to make sure he would seek out a good church and use that environment to cultivate support and friendships. He found an opportunity the day after he arrived. A family took him under their wings and helped him to acclimate. It was a true blessing.
In 2013, Kevin graduated from Lindsey Wilson College, just outside of Louisville. He returned to Louisville and noticed many East African immigrants and refugees in the local community. Again, Kevin knew this journey, firsthand. He immediately began helping them with translating documents, finding resources and support networks and more. Kevin became the bridge between the new American culture and the varied cultures people had recently fled to pursue new lives. This becomes the heart of the mission for See Forward Ministries.
In Episode 1, we discussed See Forward Ministries and its various programs for immigrants and refugees. As Kevin’s efforts grew, he recognized he need to surround him with others who could also help. That’s how and why See Forward Ministries was founded in 2017.
Kevin comments that even after all of this, he’s still learning. It’s a journey. It’s a story of coming together and supporting each other. It’s also a story of personal growth of a child who was once homeless and living in an orphanage, to his graduating from college, founding a non-profit organization and even participating in Leadership Louisville’s Class of 2022.
Now, each day, Kevin uses his personal experiences to help other live up to their highest potential.
See Forward Ministries is a non-profit organization founded to be a bridge between those who are settling in our area and members of our community who may have an interest in getting involved, learning about different cultures and making this transition a little easier.
This podcast provides a platform for listeners to learn about this organization and the people who are involved with it. If you’ve ever thought about learning more about different cultures, this is an excellent opportunity. Please SUBSCRIBE to our podcast, so you get notifications each time a new episode is launched. Our plan is to launch a new one every 2 weeks.
Visit www.SeeForwardMinistry.com for more information. We’re also on various social media platforms. Let’s connect!