Meet Hayle

Beautiful Day

At 16, Hayle is the youngest in our new cohort of youth trainees. He arrived in the US from Ethiopia when he was 2, so all his childhood memories are from right here. Still history and culture are important to him and he continues to learn Kunama, an ancient indigenous language of Eritrea. Hayle’s energy reaches straight through a computer screen—a mixture of respect, kindness, and eagerness to understand this moment in history. He’s been learning about civil rights and black history in school. Despite his own family’s long journey to “The Land of the Free,” they have encountered police...

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Meet Mbeleci

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Mbeleci doesn’t have any direct memories of her native Congo. She grew up, went to school, got married, and had her four children in the Nyarugusu Refugee camp before she was resettled in December, 2018. She is now 24. In the camp, two weeks of food rations sometimes needed to last for a month. Her family supplemented by growing beans, yams and corn. Cooking was done over a campfire. At times there was no clean water. But she has good memories of going to school with caring teachers and wonderful days at the market with her mother. She said living...

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Meet Ghebreselasie

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Ghebreselasie, or Kentiba to friends, beams when he talks of freedom: freedom to get on a bus and not be stopped. To be with his family. He doesn’t take things for granted. Kentiba grew up in Keren, Eritrea. A happy childhood in a loving family: school, friends, soccer, helping with the family business. But then his mother, fearing her children’s conscription into the army of a dictator, fled to Sudan and requested asylum. She was resettled in the US in 2013. Kentiba’s siblings joined her in 2016. For Kentiba it was too late to avoid the army. But the oppression...

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Meet Pio

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Born in Bikuvu, DRCongo, Pio’s family fled to Thailand when he was 5. He has fond, vivid memories of the great weather, crazy traffic, and good friends at the International School in Bangkok during the years that his family was seeking permanent refuge. Pio’s first experience entering fourth grade in RI was of being bullied, then hiding it from his parents so they wouldn’t worry. The next year he moved to San Miguel where he felt safe to enjoy school again. This year he is a Junior, involved in student council, on a diversity committee, and on the soccer team....

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Meet James

Meggean Ward

James was 11 when he left Maryland, Liberia to stay with his aunt in a refugee camp in Cote d’Ivoire. He arrived in RI in November of 2019 along with his aunt, grandma, uncle and cousin. His parents are still in Liberia. At first he thought Rhode Island was brutally cold. But the next day the resettlement agency dropped off a winter coat and the apartment heat was turned on. Phew! James was really looking forward to school since schools in the camp were not good. Sadly, he missed the age cut off for high school so he’s studying for...

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Meet Welde

Meggean Ward

Welde, originally from Liberia, joined her extended family here in Rhode Island in December of 2019. Welde is 18 and is now studying for the GED, but she knew she needed to work in order to help her family with bills and rent. She sought help at our partner agency (Dorcas International Institute) and then joined our training program. Welde’s prior work experience was as a nanny in Cote D’Ivoire so she was looking for help with things like time management, following schedules, and being part of a team in order be ready for the local job market. Welde is...

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