Yvon and Blanche fled their home in Central African Republic in 2013, trying to escape the civil war and political unrest in the country. Yvon, scared for the safety of his family, decided to move them all to a refugee camp in neighbouring country Chad. They lived there for the next 6 years, until they were resettled to Greensboro in 2019.
On arrival to the U.S., Yvon was determined to work hard and earn a decent living so that he could provide for their family. Both Yvon and Blanche started taking English language classes at New Arrivals Institute and participated in CWS job club and cultural orientation. Blanche first secured part-time work in housekeeping at a local hotel, and not long after, Yvon secured a full-time job with Tyson foods.
Blanche soon had to stop working, however, after giving birth to their third child. She has remained at home with the three children because childcare is so hard to find. For now, Yvon is the only income-earner in the house.
Last year, Yvon secured a new job with Panera Bread, and he left Tyson foods and its long commute. In his words, “The pay is low, but it is something. And I am also trying to garner as much experience as I can so that I can apply for and get a better job with more pay”. With the hopes of getting a better job, he intends to not only cater to his immediate family here in the U.S., but also support his parents who are back home in the Central African Republic.
Back home, Yvon worked as a Psycho-Social Support Official with Centre de Support en Sante, a non-profit organization that focuses on the control of infectious diseases, international health, and the development of health systems. On the side, he also owned a bar, his own small business.
In the U.S., Yvon hopes to become a licensed truck driver. He is determined to work hard and save up, improve on his driving skills, and complete a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) training program at GTCC. Yvon’s English has improved dramatically. But taking the next step is hard. They don’t have reliable transportation. Because the family does not have access to affordable childcare, Blanche stays home with the children and they all depend on the single, low-wage income that Yvon brings home. And then the pandemic hits. Yvon was off work for several weeks at the beginning, which meant the family had no income at all. They received COVID-19 assistance through CWS as well as food deliveries. But it’s hard to forge a career path with so many challenges and uncertainties.
Yet, Yvon and Blanche are determined. He takes his driver’s test today—an important step on the way towards CDL licensure. And they recently moved to a new home where they will have childcare nearby, which will hopefully open up doors for Blanche as well.
For Yvon, settling in the U.S, although not smooth sailing, has been welcoming and pleasant for him and his family. We are grateful to volunteers and donors who have helped make their difficult journey a little easier, and we are excited for Yvon and Blanche as they continue forward.