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Empowering The Next Generation of New American Professionals: Hery’s Story

By November 29, 2021No Comments

For the first time in the last five years, hope is returning to refugee resettlement. Discriminatory policies and bans have been lifted, the refugee cap has expanded ten-fold, and families are arriving every week, including Afghan evacuees. Our New American Integration department is rapidly expanding to meet these positive trends. With the help of your generous gift, our organization can be equipped to rise to this new era of resettlement, one rooted in welcoming and development. 


Learn more about Hery and his impact at IIB below! 


Hery, Covid-19 Response Coordinator at The International Institute of Buffalo


Can you tell us a little about your journey to Buffalo?

“I am a Congolese refugee, I fled to Kenya in 2011 in Kakuma Refugee Camp, and then I moved to Nairobi. I worked as a refugee community counselor and then as a child protection monitor. As it was impossible for me to go back to my country, and I couldn’t stay in Kenya, I was resettled here in Buffalo, in May 2021.”

Can you talk about your positions in the refugee camp?

“Yes, when I was a refugee community counselor I used to do individual counseling for refugees, those who had emotional and psychological problems, those who are traumatized, and I don’t know if you know but life in a refugee camp is not that easy, so I used to conduct group support.”

Can you explain to us some of the things you do in your Covid-19 Coordinator position?  

“As a Covid-19 Coordinator, I make sure I explain to new arrivals the Covid protocols they have to comply with, for example quarantining and testing once they arrive in the U.S. Also, if they have Covid-19 symptoms, I explain how they have to isolate themselves. I also make sure to encourage refugees to get vaccinated, even though sometimes I have to convince them because there is a lot of misinformation and myths— this is the hard part of my work. Some people do not want to get vaccinated so to convince them is not that easy.”

What is your favorite part and what is the hardest part about your position?

“My favorite part of my position is the support I receive from my fellow employees, from my supervisor, my coordinator, and our inter-team meetings within the New American Integration department. That’s something I really like, all the support. I really like my position as Covid-19 Coordinator and I like working with IIB staff because they treat me with dignity and respect and they treat me this way even if I don’t have a good educational background — the support I receive is amazing!”

What are your career aspirations for the future?

“I want to be a case manager, specifically a Preferred Communities case manager which focuses on health. My motivation for this is that I want to serve refugees, and also make sure the refugees have a successful and self-sufficient life in the U.S.”


Your Gift Will Empower The Next Generation of New American Professionals Like Hery



Your gift to our Annual Fund will empower the next generation of New American professionals who are making our city a better place by: 

  • Helping us to advocate for the essential needs of our clients that make education and career exploration possible 
  • Funding our services that help New Americans find work such as our six-week Job Readiness Course and our English Learning Courses 
  • Expanding our Employment department to prepare for the influx of arrivals and increased employment needs  
  • Supporting our interpreting and translation departments that meet the language access needs for non-native English speakers, allowing them to fully participate in our programs
  • Empowering the next generation of New American professionals who are making positive changes within our city, revitalizing our economy, and guiding the New Americans starting their lives in Buffalo