On July 17, 2014, two women fleeing violence and persecution in their home country asked to join a lawsuit challenging a Department of Health and Human Services rule change that would deny General Assistance to asylum seekers and other immigrants in Maine lawfully. Rehma Rebecca Juma and Suavis Furaha came to Maine to escape violence in their native Burundi. The ACLU of Maine and Maine Equal Justice Partners filed the complaint against DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew on their behalf. 

About the Plaintiffs

Rehma Rebecca Juma was born in Burundi in 1995.When she was 18, she fled Burundi fearing for her life and safety. She left behind her family, friends and possessions, coming to Maine alone and with little more than the clothes on her back. Rebecca, as she is known, is a high school student in Portland, Maine. 

Suavis Furaha is also a native of Burundi. She fled with her four children in 2013, fearing violence and persecution. She is fearful for the safety of her husband, who stayed behind. Suavis and her kids live in Westbrook, where the kids go to school and Suavis is studying English in Adult Ed; she also speaks French, Kirundi, Kinyarwanda, and Swahili. In Burundi, Suavis was an office administrator at the United Nations World Food Programme.


Zachary Heiden, Jack Comart (MEJP), Robyn Merrill (MEJP)

Date filed

July 17, 2014


Cumberland County Superior Court

Case number