Festival Spotlight: Abraham Mwinda’s Opportunity of a Lifetime
Abraham Mwinda is no rookie when it comes to the One Journey Festival. This is his third year participating. Previously, Abraham has served as a musical performer and storyteller and this year he will be joining us as a volunteer videographer.
Why does he keep coming back to the Festival hundreds of miles away from his home in California? Abraham says it’s because of the mission: “I’m excited more people will get to experience the value that immigrants and refugees add to their new communities. Refugees have a story and they have contribution to the American people. The One Journey Festival creates an opportunity for immigrants and refugees to tell their own stories and nurture understanding between them and their new communities.”
Abraham knows what it’s like being a newcomer and understands the impacts public narratives around refugees and immigrants can have on newly arrived folks. He came to the US nine years ago when he was resettled as a refugee in Lexington, Kentucky. Abraham fled the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and sought refuge in Kenya as a child. He was raised in Nairobi, then resettled with family in Kentucky. Not only has he experienced being a newcomer to the US, but he has picked up and moved to new communities across the country from his family in Kentucky: he lived in San Diego for two years and has now lives in Los Angeles where he works as a Production Assistant at American Idol Productions and a Cinematographer for his own company, Mwinda Visuals.
Reflecting on his time in the US, Abraham says it has been a “blessing” – “As a refugee, you do not really have a home and nothing is a promise. As they say, you could be here today and gone tomorrow. The accessibility in the US is great. The health care in the US is amazing, and the technology is well advanced and makes things easier to access for people… I have enjoyed learning something new everyday [from the American people] and also bringing something new and different to the community. However, cultural differences aren’t always easy but I am still learning to navigate.”
Abraham Mwinda at heart is a talented musician and artist. He expresses himself and his journey through his music and film. Though the music and film career industry can be difficult to break into, Abraham is navigating it. “I say America is the land of opportunity. In some places in the world, people have the desire and [work]ethic to find jobs, but they are not always available. Even the ‘lowest’ of jobs are hard to find and people struggle… I decided to go into filming because I fell in love with filming and this industry. I enjoy talking to people about their stories and getting it on film.”
Ultimately, Abraham counts himself lucky to be in the US, especially given the turmoil faced by his native country and the fact that less than 1% of refugees who apply through the UN Refugee Agency will be referred to a country for resettlement. “This [immigration to the US] is an opportunity of a lifetime that some people only dream about. Some wouldn’t even dare to dream about it.”
We are so lucky to count Abraham among our One Journey family! We are so thankful to him for sharing his music and story at previous festivals, and we look forward to having him join us this year as a volunteer.
This year’s One Journey Festival is on Saturday, June 25, 2022 on the lawn of the Washington National Cathedral. RSVP now for this free day of celebration. And if you see Abraham with his camera, don’t be a shy, say “hi.”