|FORGE works in three refugee camps in Zambia, helping 60,000 refugees build better lives. Photo Credit: Global X|
The good thing about this line of work is that you can't feel sorry for yourself for long. You can't help but be consistently reminded of how strong the human spirit can be. And unassumingly strong, at that.
I just received this story from our field staff about a man named Antoine, a Congolese refugee who has been running one of our computer training labs since 2005. We've all worked closely with Antoine for the past 2 years, yet strangely nobody knew his story. It's energizing and refreshing to hear about the things that the people around you have overcome - and with what strength and poise, you'd never know the difference…
In this line of work, you can't help but be consistently reminded of how strong the human spirit can be
After his father's death, Antoine went to live with an uncle. His uncle owned a computer and taught Antoine some basic computer skills, enough to land him a job upon completion of high school. As he worked, Antoine's goal was always to go to college to further his computer education.
In 2003, five years after his father's disappearance and presumed death, Antoine received a letter with his father's handwriting and signature. Shocked and thrilled to hear that his father had survived, Antoine and his family travled to Zambia to reunite. Their father had made it to Kala Kala Refugee Camp in Zambia, where he had been trying to reach his family for the past 5 years. Because his father could not return to Congo for fear of his life, the family decided to stay together in Kala camp.
It's energizing and refreshing to hear about the things that the people around you have overcome - and with what strength and poise, you'd never know the difference…
With Congolese refugees now returning home, many of Antoine's former students have contacted him, reporting that they had secured jobs because of their basic computer knowledge.
Antoine is ready to go to college, but refuses to leave until his assistants at the Computer Center are ready to take over in full. In his time with FORGE, Antoine has learned the many ways that his skills can benefit others. When he returns to college, he will study humanitarian organization management. To this, he says, "I now know much about computers, so I'm dreaming to one day help other refugees when my refugee status is gone."
Contributed by Kjerstin Erickson, founder of FORGE. Reprinted with permission from Social Edge.
To read another Global Envision article about African Refugees, see One Night in Ogonyo.
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