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Grant To Help Poliomyelitis Disabled Woman With Student Loan Debt

by Yowa Mukendi
(Fort Worth, Texas, USA)

This is the story of the two sides of my American dream coin.

My name is Yowa Mukendi. I am a 54 year-young woman residing in Fort Worth, Texas. When I was nine months old and living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, poliomyelitis affected my life.

The illness resulted in a disability in my left leg and my right arm, giant obstacles I force myself to overcome every single day.

In May of 1999, I made a life-altering decision. As a 40-year-old, I packed my bags and flew nearly 7,000 miles from my home in the Congo to a new life.

I wanted to be in an environment that allowed me to grow and positively influence others as much as possible, something that wasn't available to me in the Congo. My heart was full of joy and hope, and I trusted God to guide me on this new journey.

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Disability Issues

After the couple of years it took to get settled down in my new home, I decided to go back to school. At 43, I began juggling a full-time job as a driver for Hertz Rent-A-Car with a full academic schedule at Arlington Baptist College.

In the summer of 2006, I was proud to earn my Bachelor of Science degree in Bible and General Studies. I was also ordained as a minister, and began preaching to different congregations.

Then I began working on couple of books, while laying down the blueprint for my non-profit organization: "Hands of Fellowship." My dream was slowly beginning to become a reality.

Financial Hardship

However, things quickly changed. My degree came with a substantial amount of debt from student loans. As I was struggling to pay my loans, the 2008 recession bulldozed the economy and led to extreme financial hardship.

My 40-hour workweeks were sliced to 20 hours, and it became almost impossible to pay all of my monthly bills. In December 2011, I received the news that nobody wants to hear… a pink slip terminating my employment.

Income Efforts

I began frantically looking for work while depending on the $158 I received weekly through my unemployment benefits and $155 in monthly food stamps.

After almost a year-and-a-half, my unemployment benefits ended and I still could find work. This is when things took a turn for the worst.

Being a 54-year-young disabled woman poses a distinct set of challenges, and finding employment has been one of them.

Since July 2013, I have been facing an uphill climb, and each day seems more difficult than the last. My faith has helped me persevere, and it is tested every day.

I registered with the Division for Rehabilitation Services -- part of the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services -- to help me find work, but I'm still looking.

I have been forced to borrow money to pay rent.

My church has helped tremendously, but they cannot continue to do so.

I have reached out to family as well, but they too have their own bills to pay.

Specific Needs

I don't know how I'll pay my bills in the coming month, but I do know that my dream will not die. Just as I trust God with my life, I believe in "E pluribus unum" -- out of many, we are one.

I am hoping that someone will assist me in climbing out of my student loan debt and provide a grant to address my many needs.

Besides my bills, my transportation, non-profit organization and two books are my primary objectives. I want to write about my life experience to help others, while sharing the ministry through Hands of Fellowship.

I have seen how my faith has provided a safety net when all else fails, and I no longer want to be limited by my circumstance.

Getting back on my feet and putting these plans in action will need hard work and a helping hand. Thank you for your time and assistance.

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