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The Transformation of My Life by Robert Tennie

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Robert Tennie's powerful story of civil war in his home country and moving to Grand Rapids

The Transformation of My Life

Robert Tennie tells his story of uprooting his life in Liberia and starting over in the United States. 

Robert and his tutor, Nancy Hollowell, have been meeting together since November 2013.

Robert and his tutor, Nancy Hollowell, have been meeting together since November 2013. /Courtesy of the Literacy Center

The transformation of my life is coming to America during the Liberian Civil War. The war changed my life when the rebels entered Monrovia, the capital. There were no safe areas. I had a brother living with me. When the rebels advanced, I told him that we should go to the United States of America Embassy for refuge. My brother said no. I packed a few of my belongings and left. When the rebels came they killed everybody who didn’t move.

When I moved to the embassy compound, I was given food and a place to stay. I was hired by the new security contractor and worked for them until I got my visa to come to the USA.

When I came to the US, my life was very difficult. I stayed with my friend in New York for a few weeks and then I went to another friend in Rhode Island. I stayed for a few months and worked for the temporary service. The work was not steady so I decided to move to Grand Rapids, Michigan.

I moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan to a friend who worked with me at the US Embassy in Liberia. When I came to Grand Rapids, I had several low income jobs until I found a permanent job where I have worked for 15 years. I found other Liberians who gave me a good place to live.

Since I have been living here with the help of the refugee program Justice For Our Neighbors (United Methodist Immigration Ministry of West Michigan) in Grand Rapids, I have brought my two children and my mother. And now I am working on bringing two of my brothers. I have also bought three cars and a home.

I started my own business but the business did not do well. I closed my business, but I would like to try again.

May God bless American forever.

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