VOICES: Our community is built on the philosophy of being a good neighbor

Laurent Muvunyi and his wife, Nicole
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Laurent Muvunyi and his wife, Nicole

We have lived in this community for over fourteen years now. We chose this area to raise our children and put down roots. Along the way, we have met hundreds and hundreds of wonderful people who have shaped our family, supported our growth and given of themselves for our benefit — and I am sure that we are not the only people to experience this. Our community is built on the philosophy of being a good neighbor and helping each other out. What wonderful place to raise a family.

From the police, to the fire department, to our teachers and our healthcare system, there are so many people who work behind the scenes to ensure our peace, health, education and safety. We know that our emergency and healthcare providers are professional and care about us and our families should we need them. We know that they go extra mile or even risk their lives for ours should the need arise.

I am thankful for the neighborly feel when I enter a store or call for work on my car and the person that greets me knows my name. I am thankful that I can trust those I do business with. I love it when I go to a restaurant and the server knows how I like my tea. This doesn’t happen in the big city nearly as much. I am thankful for the people who have served this community for so many years in the business that we all use and need.

We live in a gorgeous area. I love the lakes, rivers and snow-covered hills. Sure, it’s cold at the times, but the beauty and the opportunities to enjoy the outdoors far outweighs a little extra snow in January. When my friends and family visit from back home, they always comment on how fresh the air is and the many beautiful, natural places they see here.

We started ARDR Allies, a non-profit organization of Rwandans helping Rwandans through development projects in the areas of health, education, and sustainable living. I could not do it all by myself, so I worked together with the people of this community who helped me so much in our mission to help the refugees of many different background to solve problems. I thank the people of our community for the incredible generosity they’ve demonstrated.

We also thank our American neighbors for giving us such a warm welcome as newcomers in their country. We love the Dayton community for being home for us and for all who lost their home due to war and conflict. We are immensely grateful to everyone who has accepted us and opened doors for us here.

I strongly encourage the Dayton community to continue to show that acceptance and to help even more, to be open to joining others already helping refugees find their footing in America and to learn from these new cultures. I also hope others are able to help my community in different ways, through researching our culture, being patient with us, reaching out to those in need, and, above all — making others feel safe and welcome.

Rev. Pastor Laurent Muvunyi and his wife, Nicole, were born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and moved to the Dayton area 14 years ago.

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Laurent Muvunyi volunteering with an after-school program. (CONTRIBUTED)

Laurent Muvunyi volunteering with an after-school program. (CONTRIBUTED)
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Laurent Muvunyi volunteering with an after-school program. (CONTRIBUTED)

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