“Returning the Good,” Global Histories: Democratic Republic of the Congo (2020)
“Returning the Good,” Global Histories: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Starting in the late 1990s, the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo endured a conflict so intense many observers called it “Africa’s World War.” During the fighting, millions of Congolese citizens were displaced from their homes, sometimes settling abroad. Rosette Bahati was among those refugees. In 1998, after her husband was taken by soldiers, Rosette and her seven children fled to Uganda, where they settled temporarily in a refugee camp. While there, humanitarian packages helped sustain them. “I noticed a blue and white logo on the boxes,” recalled Rosette of some packages. “I didn’t know English, but I remembered the symbol.”
A year after Rosette’s arrival in the camp, her husband was able to make his way there, and in July 2006 her family was accepted into the United States and resettled in Utah. As they searched for a church to attend, missionaries invited them to Latter-day Saint meetings. “We will never forget that first meeting we attended,” recalled Rosette. “The members reached out to us with such kindness.” Rosette soon found an opportunity to serve by working at the Latter-day Saint Humanitarian Center in Salt Lake City. There, she recognized the same package logo from the camp in Uganda. “It filled me with great happiness that I was helping return the good done to me and my family,” she said.
In 2014 Rosette also received a call to serve as the Relief Society president for Salt Lake City’s Swahili-speaking branch. In the branch, members were mostly refugees—often from ethnic groups on opposing sides of the conflicts they’d fled. “Our sisters come from areas in Africa where there is still conflict and turmoil between different tribes,” Rosette observed. “Yet in the branch we try to be united in our sisterhood and we try to make each sister feel that she is beloved and unique in Heavenly Father’s eyes.”