Josue Mpunga Mwela grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country rife with political oppression, police corruption and violent conflicts between armed rebel groups and government security forces. Mwela said of his homeland, “You don’t go out on the streets for any reason.”
In April 2018, at 21 years of age, Mwela left his family in the DRC to come to the United States and pursue his dream of becoming a civil engineer. He enrolled in Central Piedmont Community College after searching for colleges that did not require English proficiency.
Mwela arrived in Charlotte ready to attend class, but when it came to housing, he had no idea where to go or who to turn to for help. A stranger Mwela refers to as a good Samaritan helped him find his way to the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte.
He started at CPCC last summer and attended classes for two semesters but was unable to continue paying tuition.
Months later, he was reading the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte’s Daily Blast -- a flyer of daily happenings and resources for guests-- and saw an announcement about a free course in becoming a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technician. The course was being offered through the Charlotte Area Fund. Mwela jumped at the opportunity.
Fast forward to today, and Mwela has earned his HVAC technician certificate and is employed at Healthy Home Heating and Air. Mwela ’s next goals are to find housing and bring his 18-year-old brother to the United States once he graduates from high school in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mwela said he is grateful to the Charlotte Area Fund for giving him a chance, and to staff members Turquandra Davis and April Hood for being constant supports. Thanks to them, he said, living with his brother in Charlotte is now a possibility.
Mwela ’s middle name, Mpunga, is the name of a famous Kasai Tribe chief. “Mpunga” means “strength and courage.” He’s living up to his name, don’t you think?
The Urban Ministry Center - Men’s Shelter of Charlotte is an interfaith organization dedicated to bringing the community together to end homelessness, one life at a time, and to serve as the catalyst for systemic change to end homelessness in our community.
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