Refugee Couple Spends First Christmas In Chicago After Years Apart

The day after the couple married in Uganda, the husband was told to pack his bags for America, leaving his wife behind

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Winniefred Akrello and Celestine Mugisha have a lot to smile about this Christmas.

The Chicago couple will be spending their first Christmas together in the U.S. after spending four years apart.

The couple spent just one night together as a married couple in Uganda before Mugisha was told to pack his bags for his resettlement in America.

The day after their wedding, he was gone, leaving his wife of 24 hours behind in Africa.

“I spent almost three to four months in tears, not talking, not eating.” said Akrello. “I really didn’t have any hopes of being reunited with him. No hope of seeing him again.”

Four years later, Chicago-based organization RefugeeOne facilitated the couple’s reunion in Chicago, just days before the coronavirus pandemic hit America.

“She’s my everything, so I’m so happy to be with her here,” Mugisha.

Both escaped violence in their home countries in Africa. The couple met at refugee camp in Uganda while doing humanitarian work for other refugees experiencing trauma.

Their love story is just one example out of countless others across the world that RefugeeOne uses to advocate for the reunification of refugees around the world, but specifically in Chicago.

"The Biden administration has indicated they’ll increase [refugee] numbers back above historic norms to at least 125,000. So, we’re really excited because that means fewer refugees will have to be separated, like Celestine and Winnie were,” said RefugeeOne communications and advocacy manager Jims Porter.

For those feeling lonely this holiday season, Akrello wanted to share this message:

“One of the things that can help us show love to the people we love is sacrifice,” said Akrello. “This is a time to prove the love we have for others.”

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