African Migrants in Portland stage soccer game to welcome new arrivals
London, July 2, 2019 (AltAfrica)- In Portland, migrants may be separated by language – Portuguese for Angolans, English for Rwandans, French for the Congolese – but all of Greater Portland’s African immigrant communities do share one means of communication: soccer.
Newly arrived asylum seekers have taken to the field for a game of soccer with players from several African countries.
But these were friendly matches designed to build inter-community bonds, the event was not a formal tournament. Nor was there an official way to make donations to the aid effort – although the Congolese association has been receiving gifts all the same
The money is expected toward translation services, transportation and other aid for asylum seekers, whom Papy Bongibo, president of the Congolese community, said his group would continue to support as they settle in here.
Bongibo said community members planned to drive new arrivals to medical appointments and translate for them as they negotiate leases for apartments.
He also plans to canvass the community to see how many families might be willing to take asylum seekers into their homes
The Portland Press Herald reports that a handful of asylum seekers joined the Congolese Community of Maine for a rainy Sunday afternoon of soccer in Portland’s East Bayside neighborhood.
Denis Mangangu Malepa, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said he left his home country in 2017 amid religious and political violence. He said he spent time in Brazil before traveling six months from Latin America to Portland.
He said he’s been receiving translation services and information from the Congolese community.
Teams from Rwandan and Angolan communities joined the soccer games Sunday.
Portland has seen an influx of central African asylum seekers staying at the Portland Expo in recent weeks.