Fort Hood soldier escapes dangers of Congo for better life

"The way the embassy works is very hard. They make it very difficult for people to get visa," said Fort Hood Staff Sergeant Pamela Mbiki. She hopes to one day helps others with the visa process.

Fort Hood soldier Staff Sergeant Pamela Mbiki is with Division West on post and has lived in the United States for about 18 years, but her struggles of living in Democratic Republic of Congo are still very fresh.

“You see the movie Hotel Rwanda? I was there when it happened. They were burning people alive in the streets so we couldn’t go to school and my mom decide this is not the life for us,” Mbiki said.

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Staff Sergeant Pamela Mbiki says she spent much of her time in the Congo fearing for her life. She remembers a violent military from another country armed with child soldiers.

“They were drugged. Everything I see on TV now I lived that life, so it was a lot of killing, curfews, 1800 you can’t be outside—if you’re still outside, you can be missing or raped or killed," she explained.

So they decided to move to North Carolina but it was not as simple as just hopping onto a plane and heading to America to leave the turmoil.

“We went to Cameroon to get our visa because at the time our embassy was closed due to the turmoil and all the killing," she said.

“We stayed in hotel and my mom ran out of money," Mbiki said.

She had to leave two of her siblings behind in the Congo. Eight years and two deployments later, she finally got to see them again in America.

“I missed their whole childhood. They were like strangers when I saw them again," she said.

After seeing such a violent, corrupt military back in Africa, she says it’s a whole different perspective here as a supply sergeant with the US Army.

“Here, it’s the good military. You can trust the military. There you cannot trust the military because they’re the one that will kill you and rob you,” she said.

Staff Sergeant Mbiki has been to Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and New Zealand with the military. No, she’s studying applied linguistics so she can work at an embassy and help others, like herself, through the complicated visa process.

Mbiki said she wants to spread the message Africa is not all about war and hunger, noting there are a lot of beautiful spots to visit.

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And not all of Staff Sergeant Mbiki's memories of her home country are bad. She said she misses the food most, especially monkey.