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Video: Kenyan Woman Helping African Immigrants Settle in the United States

Posted by Administrator on April 8, 2012

Wanjiru Kamau will never forget the shock of arriving in Corvallis, Ore., from Kenya—moving as a 20-year-old student to a foreign land.

“Leaving my family and my country, coming to a place where I knew no one, that was the most difficult but also the most exciting thing I’ve done in my life,” says Ms. Kamau, now 70. She remembers finding common things, such as shopping at the grocery store, strange.

Ms. Kamau grew up in rural Kenya on a small farm, working the land with her mother and two sisters. Her father died when she was a baby. Pushed by her mother to pursue an education, she worked hard at her studies and was eventually offered a chance to attend college in the U.S. in 1960.

“I wasn’t scared to come to the U.S., because my mother taught me to be strong,” says Ms. Kamau. As a girl, she learned to farm, cut trees, slaughter goats and help run the finances for her family’s 15-acre farm, while also walking miles to and from the local schoolhouse each day.

Ms. Kamau eventually earned degrees from San Jose State University and Pennsylvania State University. She spent several decades back in Kenya working at the University of Nairobi and raising four children. She returned to the U.S. in 1988 to pursue a Ph.D. and later worked as an adjunct professor at Penn State.

She also met many African immigrants who struggled to adjust to their new lives. Many were refugees, bewildered, illiterate, and unsure of how to find housing or register their children for school.

“I had to help them,” says Ms. Kamau. “I asked myself, ‘Why did I get all of this education if not to help people?’ ”

So in 2000, Ms. Kamau resigned from Penn State, withdrew $10,000 from her retirement account, and moved to Washington, D.C., to start a nonprofit organization called African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation. The organization provides African immigrants such assistance as mental-health services, English classes, tutoring and cultural clubs for children, and help resolving conflicts in domestic-violence disputes.

“People come to us injured in some way, and we help anyone with any problem,” says Ms. Kamau, who adds that she received two calls just that day from women having problems with their violent husbands, and another from someone needing help filing asylum papers. “My phone rings off the hook at all hours,” she says.

Since 2000, Ms. Kamau’s foundation has provided help to more than 6,000 immigrants from 45 African countries and has given cultural training to more than 2,500 school counselors, caregivers, and others who work with African immigrants.

Ms. Kamau has no official employees, but she does hire consultants. She works more than 10 hours a day—fielding requests from immigrants, fund raising and planning for her organization’s annual conference.

“There are times when money is tight, and I’m up at 3 a.m., that I feel I can’t keep up this pace,” says Ms. Kamau, who swims and eats a vegetarian diet to stay healthy. “But then I see a child’s smile, and I get energized to keep going.”

Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203833004577251524178931452.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

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12 Responses to “Video: Kenyan Woman Helping African Immigrants Settle in the United States”

  1. cherono said

    Awesome, Awesome!. May God bless you for your great heart Ms. Kamau!

  2. dear said

    waoh!

  3. Wkongoni said

    We need such adorable Kenyans like Ms Wanjiru Kamau who looks beyond their scope of operation NOT like the Administrator of Jambonewspot, who tracks down his readers’ IP address and uses their real names on posts/comments on every thread to make his websites appear to have high reads. It is a shame that the KANU mentality of the 80s still dominates the mind and attitude of most Kenyans in the US, including the Jambonewspot. God bless you Ms Kamau!!!!!

    • Next time she should receive an award for her commitment

    • leo said

      Some people should be traced down. 4example,POKO and ofcourse KIPTOO.

    • @WKongoni….Most absurd/ignorant post I have ever seen since the invention of the internet and ofcourse the blogosphere. Try to spin this and tell us how I sat down and wrote all these comments..lol…….http://habarizanyumbani.jambonewspot.com/2011/12/06/i-am-a-dying-african-bestial-porn-actor-stranded-in-europe/ or this http://habarizanyumbani.jambonewspot.com/2011/04/20/kenyan-woman-from-kansas-weds-an-american-bride/. Oh and please don’t say I hacked this site that just dismantles your theory my friend… http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/jambonewspot.com# Is this the green-eyed monster?

      • Jimmy Kabaiko said

        ADMIN…you the best man. You never mess with the comments this lovely people put in here despite others being so disgusting and so profane while you have the powers to block or not to display them. Wacha wenye wivu na hasira waseme na usiku watalala. Love this page and am proud to be a regular visitor. Ubarikiwe sana!!!

    • Joe said

      Kongoni ana wivu kweli. How did you land on Jambo? You must have a website that does not have comments or enough readers. The same way you commented is the same way we comment. It’s ok Kongoni, you will be fine. Jambonewpot is the baddest!

      • Netia said

        Lol! Having a look at those Alexa stats indicates that the majority of MALE visitors to Jambonewspot are ‘No College’ i.e. uneducated! Hahahahaha! Eish, the way people think they are anonymous online kumbe their comps are broadcasting them to the world….

      • Njenga said

        Netia..wacha siasa wewe. Where does it say MALE? That is in general. Put your cursor on the question mark sign next to “No College”. It reads ” Relative to the general internet population, people who did not go to college are greatly under-represented at jambonewspot.com.” This means ni ma sonko wenye husoma Jambonewspot…lol

        Now for those who have gone to college, it says…” Relative to the general internet population, people who went to college are greatly over-represented at jambonewspot.com.” Sasa wewe na kongoni mna fitina…lol

    • leo said

      Wangunguni! keep your bedbugs to yourself. Absurd

  4. Good Job! There’s lots of us who come and get a shock out of everything… especially us men – we do have a hard time adjusting that our women and children!
    Wanjiru cannot help everyone, so lets all help others around us… do not dismiss someone you just met who introduced themselves as ‘just came the other day’… hold their hand by exchanging numbers and share with them a few things that you wish you knew when you arrived – believe me, they will ALWAYS appreciate you for it! And if they don’t, you’ll feel good about yourself and God will bless you!

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