City school refugee students leave atrocities behind

Apr 10, 2017

New students from other countries continue to arrive in Buffalo.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley spoke with some refugee teenagers, now attending Lafayette International, to share their stories of leaving behind difficult lives.     

“In coming here, I don’t know how to speak English,” said Maruf Hussain is from Bangladesh.

Buffalo Public high school student Maruf Hussain is from Bangladesh.
Credit WBFO News photo by Jonny Moran

Hussain arrived in Buffalo with his parents just seven months.

‘Bangladesh is difficult. Different political parties…it’s not good and I coming here is good,” responded Hussain.  

Hussain is among the many English Language Learners attending city schools.  But he tells us school is much different in Bangladesh. He said in his country, teachers would sometimes “hit” a student.

“Yeah, stricter – hit the student and here is no hit. This is good,” declared Hussain.

Hussain said his parents are doing well. His father is working in a grocery store. He said they’re glad to be living in America.

Another student we spoke with arrived two years ago from the Congo. 

“I come with my dad, my parents and my sister and brother. We have ten kids,” explained Rhoda Malisawa, born in Tanzania. Her family left because of atrocities in that country.

Buffalo Public high school student Rhoda Malisawa, born in Tanzania, came to Buffalo with her family from the Congo.
Credit WBFO News photo by Jonny Moran

“The little girl was – I want to say in English, but I’ll try to say it – there was – ripped them and it was terrible,” Malisawa described.

Malisawa tells us a couple of years ago, when she was in 7th grade, she was bullied.

“They come with paper and throw over me and I was crying, feeling terrible and I was going to counselor and they was helping me, and some of them got suspended,” said Malisawa. But she tells us she doesn’t experience those problems in high school. Students at Lafayette International are surrounded by students from all over the globe.

“How difficult has it been for you to learn the language?” Buckley asked.

“It’s difficult, but I’m trying,” responded Malisawa. When asked what she likes best about being in American and a Buffalo school, Malisawa said “there’s teacher – good teacher that help me with English and I love here.”

As both Malisawa and Hussain navigate as Buffalo high school teens, they both look forward to their futures. Malisawa wants to be a designer and Hussain is interested in possibly becoming a doctor.