In honor of June’s annual recognition of World Refugee Day, we introduce you to Mado.
Escaping the war in The Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country located in Central Africa, Mado was determined to save the lives of her two small children and build a new beginning. In her native country she was a hair braider and a housekeeper. She worked hard, but still the money that she made was not enough to feed the family. Mado decided to immigrate, find a job in a new country, and live with dignity and no fear. She arrived in the United States as a refugee two years ago, June 2014, but her husband stayed behind in Congo.
The war claimed up to six million lives, either as a direct result of fighting or because of disease and malnutrition. Fighting was fueled by the country’s vast mineral wealth, with all sides taking advantage of the anarchy to plunder natural resources. Political instability, a lack of infrastructure, deep rooted corruption, and centuries of both commercial and colonial extraction and exploitation has limited holistic development.
When Mado arrived in Philadelphia, she was referred to JEVS Human Services’ Center for New Americans, where they operate the Refugee Assistance Program for employment services. While her youngest child was in day care, Mado took advantage of JEVS’ computer lessons, case management, and driving skills training on a simulator. For Swahili/French speaking people, absorbing English was a great challenge, but with ESL and vocational language training, Mado was extremely determined. She had an excellent attendance record and amazing drive. After six months of learning English, Mado was awarded with a Certificate of Completion from the program.
Mado worked closely with a mentor, JEVS program volunteers and her employment counselor who helped her to find her first job as a room attendant at a hotel with a great starting salary and benefits. This past February, she wanted to try to get a job at Walmart and possibly move up the ladder; she went through the interview with flying colors and was hired. Mado’s manager is very happy with her performance. She dreams of continuing her education, and buying a car and obtaining her driver’s license to take her small children on a tour of Philadelphia–the beautiful city that became their new home.
Mado has a big heart and a willingness to help people. After work she volunteers to accompany her friends, family and her fellow countrymen to various appointments and help them with interpretation, when needed. Through hard work, determination and perseverance, Mado has become very successful and is on her way to self-sufficiency.
See our infographic below of countries of origin for our current clients in JEVS Refugee Assistance Program.