Marie-Claire is making a difference

December 19, 2017

Joined by Malala Yousafzai, Marie-Claire speaks at CWS Lancaster’s annual Community Appreciation Breakfast.
Photo: Melissa Hess Photography, CWS

“Your past shouldn’t stop you from moving forward and trying to change the world,” shares Marie-Claire, a former refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo. And she would know.

In a violent war that claimed the lives of more than five million people in the DRC, Marie-Claire found her life uprooted at an early age. Seeking peace in Zambia, her family instead met hostility from locals who felt threatened by the DRC’s refugees. The hostility became aggression, and that aggression manifested itself in an attack on Marie Claire’s parents. Her mother was beaten to death in front of her. Her father survived only because his attackers mistook him for dead.

That fine line between survival and death is the impossible limbo that so many refugees navigate as they seek a permanent home. And so, when Marie-Claire’s family was offered safety in the United States seventeen years after war broke out in the DRC, it meant hope. A future.


Resettled by CWS in Lancaster PA, Marie-Claire hit the ground running. Last year, she became the first person in her family to graduate from high school…and with a 3.7 GPA! She’s currently pursuing nursing so that she can help others. And this past September, Marie-Claire joined Nobel Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai at the United Nations General Assembly to encourage leaders to commit to education for girls around the world.

Marie-Claire’s story is not about a refugee. It’s about resilience, compassion and an ongoing passion  – despite the odds – to change the world. And for that, we have all been changed for the better.

Special thanks to the Malala Fund for featuring Marie-Claire’s story!

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