Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Neil Katz

Second Advisor

Dustin Berna


The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been at war for decades. Since its self rule in 1960, the country has been dealing with civil war, and has the largest number of refugees from Africa to the United States. Mineral wise it is the richest country in Africa, and yet it is the poorest in the standard of living. In this dissertation, I sought to research the lived experiences of Congolese women refugees settled in Indianapolis, Indiana. The purpose of this study was to explore, through their own voices, the challenges these women face as they resettle in a new country, with new people, and a new culture. These women are expected to be self-reliant within three months (90 days) with the help of resettlement agencies. A priority is that they are expected to learn a new language to enable them to move on to a life on their own. This is a challenge for these women who never had a formal education. Some of the challenges they face are the language barrier, living in a new country, new people, new environment, and the generational gap. Their challenge is to overcome these barriers. The study aims to share the women's voices firsthand. From the findings, awareness will be brought to the inefficiencies of the ninety day period of service from the resettlement agencies. Another finding is that the women refugees were not comfortable with the idea of being resettled in the United States. An additional finding is that the research participants condemned the separation that took place in the family when some of them were resettled in the US and some were left in Africa.