Fearing for his life, Freddy took a leap of faith and landed at Goodwill.
He came to the United States seeking asylum with no knowledge of the culture, the English language or any idea of how he’d start a new life.
More than a decade ago Freddy was in the Catholic seminary training to be a priest in his home country of the Democratic Republic of Congo when he decided to follow an alternate passion. He had been in the seminary for five years, but developed a deep desire to help his fellow countrymen.
He saw a rich land brimming with valuable precious minerals, yet he looked around and saw impoverished people who lacked essential human rights and justice.
“I said, ‘I think I have another calling. I have to quit the seminary, so I can bring change in our society’” Freddy recalled. “This is the reason I decide to fight for justice and for human rights. I just decided to start with political action.”
Freddy, in 2011, ran for political office during a legislative election and afterward helped organize rallies.
“When people tried to speak louder and organize a rally, we had a problem,” Freddy said, “and I decided to move to the U.S. to save my life.”
Freddy left behind his family when he arrived on the east coast September 19, 2015. He lived out of a hotel in Philadelphia for a couple weeks before moving to Maryland where he contacted an old friend who was living in Seattle. He came to Seattle and connected with Goodwill days later, starting his first English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course on October 22.
“When I first came life was very hard for me, and when I started my first English class at Seattle Goodwill everything changed in my life,” Freddy said.
Freddy worked his way through ESOL Level 1, 2, 3 and is working on completing Level 4. He’s developed impressive English-speaking skills, but he didn’t stop there. Freddy took Goodwill’s Cashiering and Customer service course and refreshed his computer skills through Goodwill’s Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint class.
Wanting to stay busy and support Goodwill’s mission, Freddy began volunteering in computer classes and now serves as a Goodwill Ambassador, performing outreach by promoting Goodwill’s mission throughout the Puget Sound.
Beyond benefitting from Goodwill’s free Job Training and Education courses, Freddy utilized the myriad resources afforded to Goodwill students. He weekly met with a Goodwill case manager who identified his barriers and offered solutions. Freddy gained free access to a lawyer who could help him with his immigration case, received assistance with food and accepted other resources.
“This program helped me a lot with my situation as an immigrant,” Freddy said. “They were sensible with my problems. My case manager and I met every week and helped me build confidence. This is the right place that can help everyone who needs, because I can testify that Seattle Goodwill changes people’s lives.”
Freddy, who owns a master’s degree in philosophy from the DR Congo, recently received his employment authorization card and works at Capitol Hill Housing. He goal is to one day have a career in computer science.
“I am proud to have been a student at Goodwill,” Freddy said. “This program, it’s free job training and education. It’s helped many, many people, and I am the fruit of this program.”