Moza arrived in the United States with her family when she was just 13 years old after fleeing ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Life was difficult at first as she struggled to adapt; having to quickly learn a new language, new customs and a new way of life. Moza enrolled at the International Student Center where she spent two years learning English, math and other subjects, in preparation for joining her local high school in Clarkston.
When she first arrived at Clarkston High a friend referred her to the IRC in Atlanta’s Youth Futures afterschool program for support with homework and studying. Moza joined the program and as she progressed through school, worked regularly with IRC staff and volunteers on job applications, interview preparation and finally, applying for college. Now 20, Moza is in her second year studying nursing at Georgia State University. “I like helping people, and wanted to give back to my community,” she said on her decision to pursue nursing. “I want to be an OBGYN nurse to specifically help the women in my community.”
“Being in college is challenging as I’m trying to build myself up and develop myself and grow, along with keeping up with the workload and focusing on school, as well as keeping up with family. Time management is key, I am also just trying to focus on my dream and figuring out how to overcome obstacles.”
Although Moza is no longer a Youth Futures student, she continues to work with the IRC in Atlanta as part of the Youth Leadership Team (YLT), which empowers refugee young adults ages 18-24 to serve as leaders and decision-makers in encouraging reproductive health services, through a youth-adult partnership with IRC and Advocates for Youth. She recently recorded an informational video with IRC Youth Reproductive Health Coordinator, Stephanie Clemente, on how to get to the new Oakhurst Medical Center (co-located with the IRC in Atlanta), what to bring to the appointment and what to expect during the appointment.
“It’s important to the refugee community because this is a new country, a new world. I notice even adults are unaware of reproductive health, so we want to make them comfortable to talk about this and remove the stigma around it. If they see us in leadership roles they are more likely to listen and learn from people just like them, from the same country or background. We can set a good example for them.”
Recently Moza and the rest of the YLT have been working on how to make teenagers less apprehensive of going to the clinic, preparing for outreach by taking several reproductive health classes and participating in public speaking workshops to ensure they have the knowledge and communication skills needed to effectively educate their peers.
Moza hopes to continue to help her community and her family after she finishes school; she doesn’t know where life will take her, but hopes to eventually become a nurse practitioner. Offering words of wisdom she said, “I have a message to the teens, especially in Clarkston – we are in the land of opportunities, but you have to go and seek out those opportunities, they don’t just come to you. You have to learn how to make connections, with anything, whether it be filling out an application or getting a job.”
Reflecting on her journey so far, Moza said, “Everything has been a learning experience. As long as I’m learning something, I’m excited and enjoying myself because these learning opportunities are helping me grow.”
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 Development Manager, Kalie Lasiter, at Kalie.Lasiter [at] Rescue.org or 678-636-8941.