When my coworker and friend, Rosie Hughes, first sat down at my desk to pitch me this story, her smile went from ear to ear.
"How would you feel... covering a refugee family?" she asked, nodding as my face became a mirror of hers. I nearly jumped out of my seat and danced. "That's what I thought. There is a catch, though. They don't really speak any English."
No English? No problem. Out of the family of 15, two spoke English fluently and four were fluent in French. Everyone else spoke mostly Swahili and Bembe. With Rosie as my French-language translator, lots of gesturing and laughing, and one ill-fated encounter with Google Translate Swahili -- "I like your hat!" was met with so much laughter that to this day I still wonder what actually came out of my phone -- we communicated. We connected. And I managed to help share their story despite the language "barriers."
While Rosie's final project focused on telling the Kaluta's story mostly through one member of the family, Mzaliwa, I documented as many of the 15 as I could. It's just a sliver of their lives, really. A slice. But it's an important one.