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Finding the inner strength to overcome adversity

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Forced to flee violence and atrocities in their home country of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Olga, her husband and four children were finally brought to safety in Atlanta in August 2015. A few months after their arrival, Olga’s husband secured employment as a general laborer at Standard Concrete and has held the job ever since, gradually moving up within the company. While her husband’s job allowed the family to quickly become self-sufficient, Olga was determined to find meaningful work for herself.  

Olga at Woodruff Medical Testing and Training Center where she is training to become a Certified Nursing Assistant and Patient Care Physician.
Olga at Woodruff Medical Testing and Training Center where she is training to become a Certified Nursing Assistant and Patient Care Physician. Photo: IRC Atlanta

Back in the Congo, Olga obtained a Bachelor’s degree in project management and worked for several years as a behavioral counselor, helping victims of conflict and violence rebuild their lives. This intrinsic desire to care for others motivated her to seek employment in the medical field after arriving in the U.S. “My dream is to help people with many medical difficulties,” said Olga. “Even if I can just help someone a little bit, it will be worth it, because for some people in need that’s all they have.”

In early 2016, Olga enrolled in the IRC in Atlanta’s Jobs to Careers program, a career development program designed for clients who have the skills and education to pursue more advanced career paths. Olga participated in Jobs to Careers’ Advanced Work Readiness Training where she worked on her soft skills through interview preparation sessions, developed specific goals and timelines, participated in resume building sessions and had opportunities to professionally network.

Olga hard at work!
Olga hard at work! Photo: IRC Atlanta

While working with Career Development Coordinator, Aisha Johnson, Olga showed interest in the Certified Nursing Assistant and Patient Care Technician training at the Woodruff Medical Testing and Training Center. Aisha worked diligently with WorkSource DeKalb to acquire a Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act grant to fund Olga’s training. Unfortunately, once the funding was secured, Olga was faced with a family-related medical emergency and her progress came to a sudden halt.

Olga speaks very highly of Aisha, who kept her motivated during this difficult time. “I will never forget Aisha and everything she did for me. When I doubted myself, Aisha would say ‘You are strong Olga!’ and I would say, ‘Ok Aisha, I will try.’ I am a stronger woman because of Aisha and Career Development.”

"I am a stronger woman because of Aisha and Career Development.”

Once Olga and her family had recovered from this setback, she was finally able to begin the training program in August 2017. Olga will graduate in February 2018 as a Certified Nursing Assistant and Patient Care Technician and just recently found out she has made this semester’s Dean’s List! Soon, Olga will be able to continue her passion for serving others and helping the most vulnerable among us.

To learn more about the work of the IRC in Atlanta and for information on how you can get involved with the IRC as a donor or volunteer, please contact Alexis Buchanan, Development Manager at Alexis.Buchanan [at] Rescue.org or 678-636-8930.

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