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Siriro Hakizimana fled his home country of Burundi as a young man for Tanzania — like many Burundians who sought refuge in neighboring countries — to avoid a groundswell of ethnic tension threatening the average person’s way of life. Burundi is an east-central African country having gained independence from Belgium in 1962. Bordering Rwanda, the region historically has been embroiled in deep-seated mistrust and deadly conflicts between the Hutu and Tutsi people. Violence reached a breaking point October 1993 when Melchior Ndadaye, the country’s democratically elected prime minister, was assassinated during a military coup – sparking a deadly civil war that resulted in fighting and hundreds of thousands of deaths lasting until early 2003. To escape the fighting, Mr. Hakizimana lived in a series of refugee camps in Tanzania for 15 years before getting the opportunity to immigrate to the United States. After a three-year process, he relocated to Austin, Texas, where he remained for a year before finally reaching Cedar Rapids. But life as a refugee is incredibly complex and the adjustment a person has to make in a new country requires a lot of assistance, says Frontier Co-op Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Manager Alicia Simmons. “They face all of these other barriers to being financially stable and independent,” she said. “Coming here with all these challenges, they grab whatever job they could get, but this [farming] is really what they want to be doing. They really want to have their own business.” Like other refugees in Linn County, Mr. Hakizimana was looking for an opportunity to capitalize on a farming background he developed back home.