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Update: Congolese Refugee Joshua Dimina


We return now to a story MORNING EDITION brought you last December. It was a profile of Joshua Dimina and his first Christmas in America. Joshua Dimina fled his home in the Republic of Congo seven years ago after militia forces threatened his life, finally resettling last year in Vermont as an international refugee. When we met this trained doctor, he was mopping floors at a local hospital, but he spoke most of not knowing what had happened to his son and parents back in Africa. Joshua Dimina joins us now on the line from Burlington, Vermont.

Good morning.

Dr. JOSHUA DIMINA (Vermont Resident): Yeah, good morning.

MONTAGNE: So I understand that you have just gotten some news about your son.

Dr. DIMINA: Yes, yes. I got news from my family. Actually, I got news from my son, my dad, my mom and my niece, my adopted daughter. My son is alive. When I saw him last time, he was three, and right now he's nine. And he had a salmonella infection, and right now he's getting better. He--they are in Ivory Coast right now, and I'm trying to pray and to ask help for them to come here.

MONTAGNE: And when do you hope or expect to see them?

Dr. DIMINA: That is a very big question. Actually, when you are in Africa, it's really, really difficult to get a visa for US, and I need some help. And if I can get this help, I'm ready to go to Africa today to help them to come with me.

MONTAGNE: When we last spoke with you, you were working at Burlington's Fletcher Allen Hospital in cleanup, and you're a trained doctor. Where are you working now?

Dr. DIMINA: Right now I'm working at the University of Vermont. I'm working in the biology department. I'm working as a lab tech at UV here.

MONTAGNE: So a bit of an improvement.

Dr. DIMINA: Yes. A better thing--it is a good family. You know, my boss is a very special person, and she's doing her best to help me to move on. And she told me to do advanced biology class, and I retake again English class, and maybe my English will be more useful.

MONTAGNE: Is that the key to getting back your medical certificate, to actually practicing medicine again?

Dr. DIMINA: The key is medical board. Medical board is in English, and I didn't speak any English before I came here. It is something very important for me to become medical doctor, because my family is a very poor family. My dad is a pastor in Africa. A pastor doesn't make enough money. And my mother didn't do any school. But to be a doctor is not only for me; it is for many people. People are suffering, and I must try to do my best to go in this way.

MONTAGNE: It is your second Christmas in Vermont...

Dr. DIMINA: Yes.

MONTAGNE: ...and things have really changed since last year. What do you feel this year, surrounded by at least the knowledge that your family is alive?

Dr. DIMINA: Actually, since I arrived in the US, in Vermont, I feel loved. Vermont is nice-people state. But the most important thing for me in the US is peace. I spent one year without the guns, without noise of bombs. Peace is most important thing for me here.

MONTAGNE: Well, it was wonderful talking with you, and wishing you a very happy Christmas and safety for your family still in the Ivory Coast.

Dr. DIMINA: Thank you so much. Thank you. Happy Christmas to you, too, and to every people in Vermont and every people in America.

MONTAGNE: Joshua Dimina is making a new life for himself in Burlington, Vermont; this, his second Christmas in America. To end this segment, we're going to play something Joshua played for us last year. It's music he learned from his father.

(Soundbite of guitar music)

Dr. DIMINA: (Singing in foreign language)

MONTAGNE: You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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