Say hello to Maureen!
She is originally from Kenya but began her journey in the United States in 2019 when her husband was awarded a scholarship. Upon her arrival, she was granted a work visa and decided to pursue a career in accounting just as she had in her home country. Although Maureen enjoys accounting, she admits that it is not her passion, so when a member from her church let her know of a way to volunteer in the states she jumped at the opportunity. For 3 years she worked with Empress Refugees as a translator and language coach for Swahili-speaking refugees. This was a very special opportunity for her because it was her connection to home and a direct form of giving back to her African community.
Most recently, she has worked with New American pathways via Friends of Refugees, in a leadership program. With that coming to an end, Maureen has been thinking about what she would like her next steps to be and more ways to give back. Being the daughter of a single mother, she experienced first-hand the negative stigma, in Kenya, surrounding women without a male presence in the household. The cultural differences that determine the value associated with a woman there are drastically different from here in the U.S. This is the area she says is her passion.
“I just want to educate the women in my home country and tell them, you don’t need a man for your life to be complete. You’re a whole person as you are, as a woman.”
Her dream is to transfer some of the freedoms she has discovered on her path of immigration to young girls and women in her village. She is about empowerment. Telling women to hold their heads high, focus on their wants and needs, dream big, and remember that the possibilities are endless.
He is originally from Guinea and came to the United States in 2014. Since his arrival, he has made enormous strides in education and finance. He has two bachelor’s degrees, one from Guinea and one from Georgia State University in finance. For Mamadou, going to school was not just about becoming a more educated man, it was also a tool that he used to learn more about the people and culture in America. With this knowledge, he became a life coach and currently holds the position of micro-enterprise coordinator, while he is pursuing his Master of Business Administration at John Hopkins University.
Aside from all his technical work and skills, he says that empathy is what guides him. That and a passion for public service, which is why he strives to help as many people as he can realize and obtain their dreams. He is known for asking the question, “What are you willing to sacrifice to get what you want?”. He understands that the journey in the U.S. can be very difficult because of the cultural and institutional differences, but believes with the right resources, tools, and education anyone can improve their life. That’s why he is working with ORR to provide small loans to refugees and immigrants who have been denied by banks and traditional financial institutions.
His position also served as his access to New American Pathways. His manager saw his passion and dedication to others and recommended him for a leadership program, which Mamadou admits has been one of his greatest pleasures. When reflecting on the time spent in the program the most exciting thing for him has been learning more about himself and what he is capable of. In addition, it has ignited a flame that could potentially push him into the political field. At a New AP city council event, he realized an area of opportunity for the local government in Georgia to work better and smarter. He states, “This city is full of refugees and immigrants, but they have no representation.” This bothers him because he, like many others, feels that you must understand and truly know your constituents in order to be a productive and efficient representative of your city.
For Mamadou, this work and experience is just the beginning of a lifetime of leadership.