It Takes A Village

How This Man Helps Refugees Adapt To New Lives

In 1994, the Mwizerwa family lived through the horrific genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda, where nearly one million people were killed in just 100 days--including their parents and most members of their extended families. 

Through the help of others, William Mwizerwa was given a second chance for his family to have a good life here in Brentwood. William's wife, Ebralie, received an education from Vanderbilt University and their four children have become very successful in their lives, thanks to this wonderful community.

Their courageous story was the inspiration for a movie called Beautifully Broken; watch it to learn how Legacy Mission Village began.

At Legacy Mission Village, their most significant goals are to help refugees obtain their citizenship. Many of these refugees arrive from refugee camps and cannot speak English and have very little education. Legacy Mission Village offers free English classes to assist them in learning the language. They also offer a kindergarten readiness program for children ages 3-5 and youth services to high school students. This after-school program helps young refugees succeed in school.  

Meeting the Mwizerwa family was an incredible experience for me. When I was trying to think of the right words to describe them for this piece, the only word that kept coming back to me was “heroes”. The definition of a hero is a person noted for courageous acts or nobility of character: A person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal. That was the Mwizerwa Family!

William first arrived in Brentwood because one of his friends came here one year before him. That was his only contact in the US. After receiving his US Visa, he asked his friend if he would host him. Four days after arriving in the US, his host took him shopping at a local grocery store where William heard his name being called. It was a connection William had from Africa. William, being a man of God, felt that it was His act that brought him to his future life. He joined a church they told him about and they gave him a free place to live for two years.  

Four of the Lost Boys from Sudan ended up in Nashville in the summer of 2000. William became a father to these boys. The number grew to 120 (orphans) and that was how Legacy Mission Village was born. 

“If I had died during the war, this would be our children," says William. "This country is way different from our country. Even turning off the lights. That was so much of our learning. We were at least educated. These boys, like any of our children could get lost forever." 

His church helped him raise the money to get a space to help him help the boys. They understood what it took to adjust to the culture. The church loved them and took care of them.

A few years after moving here with five kids, Ebralie received a full ride scholarship to Vanderbilt University to get her master's Degree. Even after receiving such an incredible opportunity due to her hard work, she continued to give credit to the people who surrounded her in the community. “Community is very, very important,” says Ebralie. “Any refugee who moves to the United States is wounded. If our family could heal, anyone could heal."

“Any refugee who moves to the United States is wounded. If our family could heal, anyone could heal".

Williams' story is a testament to the real impact a community can have when they support an individual. On average, Legacy Mission Village serves 400 refugees every month. That impact is based off of the person who ran into William at a grocery store and connected him to their church, which led to William having a free place to live until his family came to the United States. The Mwizerwas credits their church and other local churches for the impact made on the lives of these refugees. They also credit the people who get to know them through the community. To personally assist, opportunities include but are not limited to tutoring, volunteering, donating or fundraising.

Legacy Village is looking for others to bring hope for refugees. Hope for new beginnings. To learn how to help or to get involved, visit LegacyMissionVillage.org

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