At an early age, Mayele learned the importance of taking advantage of every opportunity that life presented him with; some may even be blessings in disguise. Today Mayele considers himself lucky, lucky to be alive, to pursue higher education, and most importantly to dare to dream for a better future. “My family fled DR Congo due to the ongoing civil wars, we sought refuge in Kampala, Uganda. Vibrant with life and opportunities, Uganda was the hotspot for individuals of diverse backgrounds. There I learnt English, I dropped out of secondary school to work at the age of 14 but also made memories that will last a life time”.

“You don’t value what you have until it’s gone,” I learnt this the hard way. After getting a job to help support my family, the only thing I wished for was to get back to school. Day after day, I worked very hard, hopping that if I make enough money then maybe I won’t have to be there and finally get back in school. That was only a dream of a little boy, I started resenting my family for fleeing Congo, maybe there I life wouldn’t be as strenuous. Little did I know that I had it better here than some of the people in Congo, the economy was in turmoil, I was lucky to have left. I did envy those individuals whose family could send them to school.

I still remember the day my family got the news about coming to the US, the happiest day of my life. I knew that I was finally going to get back in school and not have to work at that strenuous job, after all “America is the land of milk and honey” or so as most people from my country refer to it. As a refugee, you don’t get to pick what country you are accepted in, in other words, I didn’t pick Cleveland, it chose me. Here I could enroll back in school and dare to dream bigger.

Mr. Mayele started Advocates for Peace and Change to give back to his community and to inspire younger generations of refugees to pursue higher education. “I know the importance of it, it’s one’s keys to a better future”. “With time, I’ve expanded my goal of just teaching them English, I want to foster and nature their talents by exposing them to diverse activities and environments. After all, life is more than just books, the exposure you play a significant role on how big you can dream”.

Mayele Degaule Ngemba

President & CEO