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Transforming talents into livelihood

Mbui showcases a knitted throw with IRC Employment Specialist, Emmanuelle Fahey.

Photo: Patricia Repolda

Mbui arrived in Tucson in November 2016 from the Democratic Republic of Congo. For most of her life, she worked as a farmer, but she has always had a keen eye for crafting and design. She learned how to crochet by simply observing the work of other women in her village.  Through the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) Economic Empowerment Unit, Mbui was able to transform her passion and skills into a livelihood that supplements her family’s income.

When Mbui and her children arrived in the United States, she was determined to work hard and create a better future for her family. “When I first came here I received a warm welcome. But I soon realized getting a job would be difficult," said Mbui. Mbui participated in Wells Fargo supported job readiness training, received one-on-one case management and employment services, and learned essential financial literacy skills. In addition, she has been participating in the IRC’s knitting circle, which expanded her crocheting and knitting expertise. Through all these program offerings, Mbui developed a plan with her case manager to market her crocheted creations. 

Mbui at the Santa Cruz River Farmers Market Holiday Bazaar Photo: Emmanuelle Fahey

At the Santa Cruz River Farmer’s Market Holiday Bazaar, she debuted her collection and earned $135. Local news, KVOA News4 Tucson, interviewed Mbui at the Bazaar. At the interview, she excitedly shared that, “the IRC helped me identify the talents I had, and now I am here today,” she said. “I believe that my future will be bright. And without the IRC and my case worker, Emmanuelle, I don't know what I would have done.” 

As a single mom, MbuI’s dream is to meet the needs of all her children, become self-sufficient and establish a peaceful home for them in Tucson. The IRC thanks Wells Fargo and all its supporters for helping refugees like Mbui make that dream a reality.

Last year, IRC Tucson’s Economic Empowerment Unit helped 132 refugees secure jobs in Arizona. On average, it takes 90 days for refugees resettled by the IRC Tucson to secure their first jobs in the U.S. 

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