Celebrating the work and leadership of international women at NH

Who do you envision when you hear the term “international women”? Women in foreign countries or refugees and immigrants coming to the United States who need our help? Or do you imagine the international women of New Hampshire leading their communities, taking on big challenges, creating innovative solutions, and bringing their global expertise to work for our state?

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #BreakTheBias – what better way to contemplate the stereotypes and discrimination women around the world face every day than to celebrate the largely invisible work and leadership of international women here. in Granite State. These women are leaders and agents of change, and they use their lived experiences to help others overcome common barriers related to prejudice.

Christine Kindeke came to New Hampshire from the Congo in 1988 with her daughter Grace. Christine quickly became a pillar of the African immigrant community by helping single mothers with babysitting and teaching them to speak English. When other immigrant women faced racism and discrimination at work, she encouraged and empowered them to not accept this type of treatment. She helps them write resignation letters and introduces them to more welcoming employers. Thanks to Christine, many of these women are still in New Hampshire – thriving in their new jobs – and becoming community leaders themselves, passing on their knowledge, resilience and opportunity to others.

Eucabeth Nyangena was granted asylum and came to New Hampshire from Kenya in 2003. When she arrived she found there was no support system to help her, but she figured out how to survive and then started helping others. By 2010, when Eucabeth’s children joined her in New Hampshire, she had become a leader for Kenyans and other African immigrant women and families, providing the community support she wished she had upon arrival. Now, whenever a new Kenyan arrives in her community, they call Eucabeth and she meets with them to find out what they need, often offering coaching and mentoring to help them become self-reliant. Thanks to Eucabeth, dozens of new Americans are thriving granite statists – in many fields of work – thanks to the help she has provided.

Victoria Isijola came to the United States in 2001 from the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria. She was a registered nurse and once settled in New Hampshire cared for patients at work, her own children at home, and she never passed up an opportunity to help other families in her community. . Victoria literally fed her neighbours, ensuring immigrants experiencing domestic violence or poverty had enough to eat. She used her own money to fund the education and job training of other new Americans, enabling them to work to support themselves. When asked what motivated her commitment to helping others, she replied, “When you motivate the freedom of others, you yourself are free.

Beatrice Adekoya arrived in Boston as the winner of the Nigeria visa lottery in 1998. Like so many African immigrants, Beatrice found community at religious gatherings and noticed that many Africans had been coming to Boston every week since New Hampshire for mass and in search of African dishes. In 2004, she and her family moved to New Hampshire to help establish a church in Manchester and open an African food market, Mercy of God. Today, Beatrice continues to welcome immigrants into her home, acting as an “anchor person” for other Africans who have the opportunity to come to the United States, but otherwise lack the connections to help them through. to start up. She opens her house to these new neighbors and helps them build a new life, find a job, go to school and settle down with their family.

Finally, a symbol of the multigenerational impact of international women in New Hampshire is Christine Kindeke’s daughter, Grace, who is an activist, organizer and co-villager with the Manchester Community Action Coalition (MCAC). MCAC coordinates with immigrant leaders like these women, connecting their networks and mobilizing statewide support for their collective needs.

Christine, Eucabeth, Victoria, Beatrice and Grace are just a few of the international women who enrich our communities and our state through their leadership, compassion and generosity. In addition to meeting basic needs and helping to navigate American systems, they provide essential fellowship and community that newcomers need to chart their own paths. These women are the foundation of their communities and the Granite State is better because of them.

What can we do to ensure that these women – who positively impact and enrich our communities every day – stay in New Hampshire? How can we better support these women and their communities? We can start by funding or increasing funding for their projects and programs.

Data shows that women of color receive just 0.53% of all philanthropic giving in the United States, and organizations serving black women and girls receive just 0.02%. Many women of color, especially immigrant and refugee women, are unaware of or do not have access to traditional philanthropy channels. It’s one of the reasons the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation has launched a new grant program, the Women and Girls of Color Fund, to support innovative programs and community projects created by and/or serving women and international girls. Many of the Fund’s advisors are well connected within the international community and inform the program’s outreach efforts.

This International Women’s Day, #BreakTheBias and join us in supporting international women right here in New Hampshire who are enriching our communities and leading positive change.

Tanna Clews is the CEO of the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation, which recently launched the Women and Girls of Color Fund.

Kile Adumene is Co-Director of the Manchester Community Action Coalition and Advisor to the Women and Girls of Color Fund.

Maria D. Ervin