Newcomer Success Story #2

Espérance Cuma

It’s been 14 years since Espérance Cuma came to Moncton. Desperate to escape war in her native Congo, she, her husband Déo and six children came to Canada in the hopes of building a new life.  It’s safe to say that not only has the Cuma family made Moncton their home, they have been instrumental in helping others improve their lives.Esperance Cuma

“When I first arrived, there were not many immigrants to Moncton and only a few students from Africa who were studying at the University,” recalls Espérance. “Today I have met many families and do all I can to help them learn about the City and Canada.” 

One of her earliest memories when she first came to Moncton was how helpful and kind the community was to her family.  They immediately connected with volunteers at MAGMA who helped them to find their way. 

“We met so many nice volunteers who took care of us,” she recalls. “Many of them have now become friends.”

While much has changed in Moncton over the last 14 years, she says the city is still a very calm and welcoming place.

“I like Moncton because it is quiet and people take the time to help you if they can. It is not like this in big cities, she says. “I tell new immigrants this when they arrive. This city is a good place to raise a family.” 

Now that she is well established, Espérance has been able to welcome many newcomers who have come to her store, Afrikana. The shop, located at the corner of Jones and Mountain road, opened in 2003 after Espérance found it difficult to find the special ingredients she needed for traditional African dishes. Today, the shop carries a wide variety of goods, including special African spices, bean and cassava flours, okra and goat meat. She has also expanded to sell African art and grooming supplies, such as cosmetic oils and hair products.  

Today, Espérance’s store is considered the “go-to” shop for anyone needing special goods from Africa. It’s also become known as a friendly place where homesick newcomers can have an international experience.  With 13 years in the retail sector, Espérance is now a familiar and respected member of the business community. 

While she is busy at her shop, her husband Déo works as the Director of House of Nazareth, a homeless shelter and soup kitchen that helps at-risk individuals integrate back into the community.  Together Espérance and Déo have dedicated their lives to helping build the City. They are proud that they have been able to give back to the community that helped them when they first arrived. 

The Cuma children are now grown and have lives of their own. Some are studying and working in other provinces, but no matter where they go, they consider Moncton their home. 

“My children have done very well here,” says Esperance. “They have been educated here and speak both English and French. We have had a good life in Moncton.”