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All photos: Lauren Santucci

They Fled Burundi. Now They're Opening Detroit's First East African Restaurant.

Photographer Lauren Santucci documents an asylum seeker family from Burundi as they adapt to their new lives in the United States.

Mamba Hamissi and Nadia Nijimbere are a couple from Burundi who recently settled in Detroit. When they finally received asylum last year, Mamba quit his day job to open an East African restaurant that will employ African asylum-seekers, immigrants, refugees.

There is a growing number of Africans moving to Detroit because of Freedom House, one of the only shelters in the country providing pro-bono housing, legal, and social services to survivors of persecution who are seeking asylum in the United States.

I've been documenting Mamba and Nadia's family since September 2017 to explore how they rebuild their lives in Detroit and what opportunities emerge when they stay. I double as a prep cook at their pop-up events, often helping them fry plantains or make last minute runs to the African market between taking photos.

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