Professor, Wilberforce University
Arriving in a new place, surrounded by unfamiliar faces, can be a very frightening experience. Professor Jacques Kahindo can confidently say, however, that with the help of a community and dedicated minds, this anxiety and fear can be eliminated. Professor Kahindo and other community leaders have taken the initiative to guarantee our neighborhoods are not only welcoming new arrivals, but also providing them with the support and assistance they need.
“I am originally from the city of Uvira, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. After living in Uvira for many years, I moved to Kebrera, Kenya, where Catholic Social Services assisted me. After my time in Kebrera, a small suburb outside of Nairobi, Kenya, I lived in the Walda Refugee Camp, which was cared for by the United Nations. In 1993, I traveled to the United States, where I was resettled to Dayton, Ohio. I arrived here by coincidence; I was originally supposed to relocate to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Once I was settled, I knew this was home. I received an education and embarked on a new career as a college professor, as well as started a family here.
I obtained my Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and earned my Master’s Degree in International Affairs and Comparative Politics from Wright State University. By the time I completed my education, I was married and had three children. Dayton not only became my home, but a home for all us; we belonged to a community.”
Building a Community
“From 2007 to 2009, there was a great increase in the number of refugees being resettled in the Dayton region. As the numbers of refugees rapidly grew, an immense need to help them followed. This need resulted in the creation of the Congolese Global Community.
I am on the executive board for the Congolese Global Community. Some of my responsibilities include advocating for education, locating ESL schools and teachers, and finding transportation for individuals. The Congolese Global Community is an organization under the Dayton African Community. Many refugee-driven organizations communicate with each other and provide support for one another. We established the Dayton African Community so there could be a society that was inclusive and provided an abundant amount of resources to all refugees.
These community organizations are the key to helping our new arrivals. Once their government assistance ends, they run out of resources; they need help finding jobs and education tools. These organizations volunteer their time to assist them every day. Once the new refugees are surrounded by similar faces and cultures, the fear of being alone immediately vanishes.”
Reasons for Giving
“ I see a great need for help.
When I was a refugee in Kenya, I didn’t have any food or clothes. Then, someone provided me with these daily necessities. I see the same need in Dayton, and I want to make the same changes. I want to give back and make new residents feel welcomed. It is part of my community service; I want to return the generosity I once received.
I have made Dayton my home. There are a lot of opportunities for my family and me. We belong to a community, a group that values and accepts other people. This is part of being human. You need a community, and you need a home. This is my family, and these are my people.”
“Welcome Dayton has done a wonderful job at integrating different communities with one another. They sponsor and host many events that provide opportunities to meet other Africans and Americans. They are helping move society in the right direction.
Each year, Melissa Bertolo and her coworkers have given a day that we [refugees] can claim as our own. World Refugee Day brings many communities together and produces a diverse audience. This event allows us to display our culture by sharing our food, language, clothing, and music. They create the foundation for sharing and being inclusive; that is what a community does.
Additionally, Welcome Dayton has been a proud sponsor and in collaboration with the City of Dayton for three years in hosting the World Soccer Games. These games give refugees, immigrants, and Americans the unique opportunity to interact and play the game together, as well as exchange cultural awareness between cultures.
I appreciate everything Welcome Dayton and the City of Dayton has done to make our neighborhoods friendlier and a more welcoming environment!”