Meet Kibambi: From Central Africa to Central Minnesota


Meet Kibambi: A member of the Community Work Program based out of the Savage Opportunity Services Site. Kibambi moved to Carver County about a year ago from Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in Central Africa. His primary language is Swahili with a limited understanding of English. When Kibambi began seeking professional service providers, he was accompanied with a translator. Once they entered the Savage site and met Ezekiel, the Site Supervisor of the Community Work Program in Savage, they knew that this was the place for him. This decision was clear for them when they found out that Ezekiel was fluent in Swahili. Kibambi’s language barrier has not held him back in being a valuable asset to the work teams he serves on because of his communication with Ezekiel and his courage to learn a new language. 

In the beginning, it was challenging for Kibambi to communicate with his co-workers and supervisors. However, over time he has shown exceptional growth and been able to integrate into multiple job sites. Given his language barrier, he relies heavily on following what others are doing to learn how to complete tasks. He picks up skills fast and after observing the task someone else is completing, he is able to begin working on his own. In order to better communicate with Kibambi, the staff at the Savage Site have been working on picking up key phrases of Swahili while Kibambi works on learning English. “He’s really shining. He has tried all of the different job sites and is learning fast. He is very outgoing and always excited to work,” shared Ezekiel.

Kibambi will soon begin working primarily at the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Eden Prairie as part of a work team of 7 other peers led by an Opportunity Services job coach. His work team will be given a set of hotel rooms that they are responsible for cleaning each day. Each team member is usually given an individual task that they do in each of the rooms. Kibambi’s favorite task is vacuuming because he likes to see the area become clean. One of his favorite projects is shredding paper in the Minneapolis Corporate Office. “We are so proud of Kibambi. Every time he completes his tasks, he will give you a big smile and a high five,” one of his job coaches Bev shared. “He really likes the family feel of his co-workers and enjoys interacting with them through gestures and laughter.” Kibambi shared that one of his favorite parts of Opportunity Services is all of the great people he gets to work with as they are all very playful and nice.

Granted with a strong infliction for work, the staff in the Savage site have a hard time getting Kibambi to go home at the end of the day as he often seeks additional work opportunities. In fact, he is always pleading with the staff to open the site on the weekends so he can spend his days off working. Outside of work schedule, Kibambi enjoys spending walking and running. If he isn’t hanging out around the house, he also likes to go out to the parks and play sports. The team at Opportunity Services is so proud of the growth that Kibambi has shown and look forward to seeing what else he will accomplish!