Portrait of an Immigrant: Jenipa
Jenipa is an immigrant from Cameroon. She was raised in a rural area as the second of six surviving children born to her mother. As a teenager Jenipa moved to the city and lived with her brother’s mother-in-law while she obtained her High School education. After graduation she began working as a housekeeper making about $60 a month. That same year her brother moved to the United States.
It was never Jenipa’s plan to leave Cameroon but after her brother’s move she put her name into the lottery for admission to the U.S.A.. A year later, in 2010, her name was drawn. She was now eligible to become a U.S. resident. In June of 2010 Jenipa arrived in America.
Jenipa began working in a group home and found that she cared deeply for the needs of others. In 2011 she graduated with her associates degree from Century College before completing her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work at St. Scholastica. Following the completion of her social work degree Jenipa continued her work in group homes now as contract case manager. She currently carries a caseload of about forty group home clients with another twenty-five vulnerable adults who, at this time, don’t qualify to live in a group home.
Making a life for herself in America hasn’t always been easy for Jenipa. She hasn’t been back to Cameroon since she arrived in the United States and openly shares that she’s, “missing home so much.” As the mother of a sixteen month old son she longs for her own mother and siblings back in Cameroon to be able to meet him. He is the only grandson in the family.
With her younger siblings back in Cameroon Jenipa, like so many immigrants, has made it a point to send financial help back to her family in order to pay for the education of her siblings. She has a passion for education and is hopeful that it will be a way for her siblings to find access to opportunities that would not otherwise be open to them. She says she tells them, “If I’m sending you money to go to school you’d better be working hard. If you pull your pants down and sit on the street I will not pay.” As a result of Jenipa’s generosity two of her siblings are currently working on their university degrees.
In the villages of Cameroon the women work very hard. They are the ones who provide for the family. Jenipa brings that passion and drive for success to her life in the United States as she provides for her family both here and back home.
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