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OU on the BBC: Meet The Immigrants - Programme three

Updated Tuesday, 8th April 2008

Find out more about the third programme in the BBC/OU Meet the Immigrants series.

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Mussanzi Family Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Production team

Millions were killed in the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ben Mussanzi wa Mussangu and his family were some of the few to escape the slaughter and were allowed to settle in Britain. Ben’s wife, Kongosi, has campaigned as one of the “Thousand Women of Peace in the Congo”. Her peace work led to her group being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, but also saw her name appear on a death list - so the Muzzanzis had to flee.

They now live in Bradford, where the family sing as a choir, often at peace events. They also run trauma workshops for other refugees from war-torn areas of Africa. Ben and Kongosi had professional well-paid jobs in Africa but due to their refugee status, they have to do low-paid work in Britain - Ben works as a volunteer at the local radio station and Kongossi is a cleaner. Now money is so tight they are moving to a cheaper, rented property with a local housing association on the other side of Bradford.

When they escaped from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Mussanzis became separated from their oldest daughter, Mapensi, who stayed on in a safe region of the country to continue her studies to qualify as a doctor. Now, the family wants her to be issued with a visitor’s visa so she can travel to the UK so they can all be reunited for the first time in seven years.

We discover that her visa is refused by the authorities on the grounds that she may stay in this country and not return to Africa. If the family chooses to visit her in the Democratic Republic of Congo, then they might not be allowed back into Britain themselves.

We catch up with Romanian taxi-driver Catalin. Having undergone further training and testing in Plymouth, he is ready to start work with the one of the region's biggest cab firms. The company currently employ 90 foreign drivers and have been training East Europeans to work as Plymouth cabbies since the EU expanded eastwards in 2004.

Catalin likes his job but misses his wife and children back home in Romania, particularly as he is away for his daughter’s birthday. His plan is to earn as much money, as quickly as possible, in order to get his family over to join him in Plymouth. To this end, he works the very busy and rowdy Saturday night shift in Plymouth to maximize his takings, but realistically he knows he will have to delay the arrival of his family by some months.

We also catch up with Latvian Jolanta in this episode. It’s a month since she started work as a hotel waitress in Lyme Regis. She’s getting on well with the other staff and the guests, but she is missing her boyfriend Sergei. Unlike the Mussanzis, Jolanta is free to come and go as she pleases, so she decides to follow her heart. She hands in her notice, and waits for Sergei to come and take her back to Latvia.

First broadcast: Monday 14 Apr 2008 on BBC ONE

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