Search form


Djenny's Nursing Dream Come True

Djenny Badibanga is a Congolese refugee who came to Charlottesville after many years at a refugee camp in Uganda. While in this refugee camp, she worked in the nursing clinic and took care of others who were sick and in need of health care. This was what she loved to do, and her dream was to become a nurse.

Djenny Badibanga graduated her CNA program, passed her certification exam, and began working at a nursing and rehabilitation center in Charlottesville. Photo: Caitlin Reinhard/IRC

She arrived in Charlottesville in the summer of 2018, as a single mom with two teenage children. Here she began the resettlement process with the help of the IRC Charlottesville team. While that long ago dream remained in the back of her mind, she focused on the more immediate priorities of housing, employment, and caring for her children. She began working as a housekeeper, and worked for the Omni Hotel and the Courtyard Marriott. While she cleaned rooms day after day, her nursing dream continued to flutter, night after night.

In the fall of 2019, after her first full year in her new town, she decided it was time to pursue her dream. She applied for the CNA program at CATEC and was accepted into the January cohort.

“What prompted me to do the CNA program is because I was taking care of my grandmother when she died, and continuing to take care of old people reminds me of my grandmother.”

She attended classes on Saturdays, working full-time, and reading her textbook and studying during her breaks at work. Even after Covid hit and she was furloughed from her job, she pushed on with the CNA program. This spring, in the middle of the pandemic, she graduated the program, passed her certification exam, and began her new job at The Laurels of Charlottesville, a nursing and rehabilitation center in Albemarle County. We are so happy to share that Djenny loves everything and every minute of her new job!

“I love my work so much because I love helping and taking care of older people,” she says, when asked about what she loves most about her job. “And, also it reminds me of my grandmother.”

Djenny exemplifies the resilience and determination of our clients, not only to make a good life for themselves, but also to contribute to their new town and make it a better community for all of us.