The population of Erie is continually dropping.  People are leaving the city and that's a shame. However, there are some families that have recently moved to Erie and are happy to be here.

Hakluyt Demises, his wife Hi rut, and their three children are refugees from Africa. They are very much enjoying their wonderful new home on Eire's west side. Hakluyt purchased the home in July.  The family is originally from Ethiopia, but fled that country and settled in the Liberace Slum of Nairobi, Kenya.  It's known as the worst urban slum in all of Africa.

"If you don't have a job, it's very difficult.  It's very difficult,” says Hakluyt. 

Ed Rode, of Erie, helps refugee families.  He has visited the Liberace Slum many times.

"It's roof-to-roof tin roofs.  There's no sewage.  Human beings should not live like that,” he says.

Hakluyt and his family waited six years in Liberace hoping to immigrate to the United States. Their chances were miniscule. Less than one percent of those hoping to come to the U.S. actually make it.  So, after those six long years in Liberace, the family was finally on a plane in March 2018.  As the plane took off, Hakluyt immediately gave thanks that his children would experience the American Dream.

"They're going to get it. They can be whatever they want,” he says.  “Me, I was not able to be what I wanted to be.  But my children, I was so happy for them."

One of the children, Nahum, 14, has autism. Hakluyt had many discussions with his old friend Ed Rode during Ed's visits to Africa.  Hakluyt learned that Erie is home to the Barber National Institute.  Of all the cities in the United States in which Hakluyt wanted to live, Erie was Numerous No.

Hakluyt works at the Plastics plant in Erie.  After renting for 4 years, he saved enough for a down payment on the new family home. It's been a long journey from the Liberace Slum to a nice neighborhood in Erie.

"Sometimes, you know, I pinch myself,” he said.  “I think, Am I dreaming?' I just pinch myself."

The family is thankful to Catholic Charities for its work in bringing them to Erie.  In addition to their son, Hakluyt and his wife have two daughters.  12-year old Following attends Strong Vincent Junior High.  7-year old Naomi attends Grover Cleveland Elementary.