There was something about the new girl on the bus that prompted Lottoy Bryon to strike up a conversation on a ride to Sunday church service in February 2018.


“I don’t know if it was her smile or what,” Bryon said. “She gave off a pleasant aura.”


Bryon’s connection with the woman grew so fast that the two of them posed for a selfie after the bus had rolled into Victory City Church.


Then the ladies decided to whip up a small lie for which the Good Lord surely forgave them.


“People thought the whole time we were sisters,” Bryon said.


So they went along with it.


Her new sister was Amina Makamba, whose real family was divided a little more than a year earlier when Makamba fled political unrest in the Congo and left behind her husband and two young children.


Nearly seven months pregnant at the time, Makamba began experiencing extreme stomach pain on her first full day in the U.S., prompting an emergency C-section. Believing she was pregnant with one child, Makamba ended up with triplets — girls Nchuti, Masango and Lukala. Together, they weighed seven pounds. Lukala, the smallest of the three at only 1 pound, was diagnosed with an array of medical conditions and had to stay in the intensive care unit at Ascension Seton Medical Center for five months.


It was a frightening beginning to a journey that Makamba had thought would bring a better quality of life.


“She told me she was traumatized,” Bryon said. “She was planning for one baby and then had three. She really takes care of those girls. She loves them endlessly.”


The Makamba family is part of the Statesman's Season for Caring program, which helps hundreds of families each year through local nonprofit agencies. The Makamba family was nominated by Foundation Communities.


Since that initial encounter on the bus, Bryon has become even more impressed with Makamba’s character. When Bryon’s mother got into a car wreck and needed back surgery this past March, Makamba took off from work to be at the hospital and then kept Bryon’s son for two days while Bryon watched over her mom.


When Bryon was in Louisiana and misplaced the money she needed for a bus trip home to Austin, Makamba fired off cash through a smart phone app.


“She’s a true Christian,” said Bryon, who moved to the U.S. from Jamaica in June 2015. “So humble and kind. When she expresses herself, you feel the realness of Amina. She’s very sacrificial.”


The triplets turned three on Dec. 15 with party. Bryon, their “aunt,” was in charge of decorations and food.


“They are adorable,” she said. “They’re my little nieces.”


Makamba’s biggest needs are airline tickets to bring the rest of the family from the Congo to the U.S. as well as help establishing permanent residency. She also needs a reliable car. The girls need bigger car seats and gift cards for clothes and bedding. The family also needs many storage systems such as shelves, dressers, boxes for under the bed.


To find out more about the Makamba family and to donate an item on the wish list, contact Foundation Communities, 512-447-2026, foundcom.org.