After escaping the violent conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo with his parents when he was just five months old, Gentil Ndizihiwe lived the next phase of his life in a Rwandan refugee camp. The oldest child, Gentil and his family–including his 4 siblings who were all born in the camp–were one of tens of thousands of families to escape the unrest in his home country. Gentil and his family endured in the refugee camp for 16 years until, after a 2-year interview process, they were given the opportunity to immigrate to America.
An American Dream
The family relocated to Philadelphia when Gentil was just finishing high school. Always serious about his learning and possessing a strong work ethic, Gentil immediately sought support for his academic and career pursuits and connected with JEVS Center for New Americans refugee program to find employment.
He didn’t speak English, but his drive and focus earned him placement in JEVS Project WOW (World of Work), a free career training program open to 18 to 24-year-olds without a high school diploma. Gentil excelled in Project WOW and in about four month’s time, he earned his GED as well as a trades diploma in property maintenance and repair. Shortly after graduating from Project WOW, Gentil started an interim job that was soon replaced by a full-time position at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
Looking to the Future
At 21-years-old, Gentil aspires to advance his career and is now a student at the Community College of Philadelphia. He is an example for his family and peers abroad, showing everyone that support is readily available if you have the courage to accept it.
“That’s one of my special days. I have to celebrate every year. June 18th, 2014, was the first day I got here.”