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Elisabeth, Department of Public Health

“I’m so glad I found JVS. They gave me and my family new life.” – Elisabeth

In the Ivory Coast, Elisabeth’s future as a physician and a public health professional was bright. She had accomplished so much already as the Chief of the Hematology Unit and HIV Project Manager for the National HIV Care Program. This all changed when she had to leave her life behind, fleeing her country to protect her family from military persecution. Elisabeth and her three children found safety and asylum in the United States, where they have remained since 2012.

Though highly skilled, she struggled to secure work and relied on local shelters for housing in the U.S. She found a way in through a JVS program that trains low-income San Franciscans for hard-to-fill positions as health care workers. Following JVS’s 10-week classroom training, Elisabeth excelled in her six-month paid internship at the Department of Public Health, where she currently works as an administrative assistant in the Behavioral Health Access Center. She’s on her way to becoming one of healthcare’s most sought-after leaders, newly equipped with the skills, tools and confidence to make it in America.

Charles, African Advocacy Network

After six arrests and detentions by Liberian President Taylor’s forces, Charles knew that he had a choice to make: his career as an outspoken opposition journalist or his life. He fled to Ghana and, as a refugee, came to California for the Knight Fellowship at Stanford. After this fellowship ended, Charles worked at a gas station, which later closed down. Desperate to break into the U.S. workforce and eager to help other refugees, Charles earned his Paralegal Certificate and turned to JVS. After a long search, Charles now works at the African Advocacy Network, a Program of Dolores Street Community Services, where he helps Haitian and African refugees settle into their new homes.