Born in Inongo, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nicole Ndongala arrived in Spain in 1988 when fleeing political instability and violence in her home country. Initially she experienced cultural shock adjusting to her new home in Spain, but received support from Karibu Association, a Spanish NGO that provides assistance with language skills, jobs training, and connections to health resources to women from Africa. She has since gone on to become the Director General of the Karibu Association.
During her recent stay in Albuquerque with an International Visitor Leadership Program delegation from Spain, we had the opportunity to ask her more about her inspiring story.
In Spain, the Karibu association, whose name means WELCOME in Swahili, is a great reference for the African migrant community. It has been working for more than 30 years in the reception, solidarity and denunciation of the discrimination suffered by this group. With this experience, it reaches out and weaves networks in favor of humanitarian aid, integration and the inclusion of the most unprotected migrants and refugees in Africa, also supporting development activities in the countries of origin.
In addition, she participates in different councils and representation spaces such as:
- Member of the Advisory Council of Casa de Africa.
- Member of the Forum of Forums Advisory Committee (ForoAfrica)
- Coordinator of We Create Future 20/24
- Awards for commitment and social leadership.
As a leader and professional I feel and have in my principles and priorities to grow, learn and share.
I feel very proud to be part of those more than 5,000 professionals who have passed through this IVLP program, where 329 current and former Heads of State and Government have participated, as well as many other distinguished world leaders from the public and private sectors. With this program I am expanding my knowledge. I also like to continue learning to be able to teach and mentor others.
What is your passion/motivation to do what you do?
My priority is the defense of Human Rights. I believe that we should all be Agents of Change to accompany people who seek change. When a person decides to leave their land, there is always a desire for change, with different motivations, but the root lies in looking for the place where, with freedom and personal abilities, they can find a better life or a transformation of unjust situations. Since my arrival in 1998, the Karibu Association has provided me with a space from which to continue and consolidate the path undertaken from Africa, to actively participate in the struggle to achieve the change and transformation that is needed. I am convinced that in this globalized world for there to be a true exchange, it is not necessary to have the same ideas, but what is needed is to respect others' ideas because diversity, far from being negative, enriches the development processes of all people.
My passion is to contribute from an intersectional perspective, recognizing inequalities, promoting all-inclusive action with the fight, defense and promotion of vulnerable people, especially women. My motivation is to participate in transforming the tragedy of vulnerable people into an opportunity for us all to achieve social justice.
Why did you choose this career?
I have progressively increased my studies based on the needs of the functions that I have had to develop. This motivated my university studies, master's degrees and other professional training which are listed below:
- Role of the Interpreter in the Asylum procedure in Spain (University of Alcalá Spain)
Where do you see yourself in 10 years with this career?
I don't have a clear answer to this question, I can't foresee my future 10 years from now. Life is not always as we think. What I am very clear about is that I really like my job and everything I do on a professional and personal level as a Human Being. I identify myself with the principles and values of Karibu and in the spaces where I participate and collaborate. As a good professional, I am sure that I will continue to contribute as much as I can, depositing my grain of sand, sharing my knowledge with young people, who are the new generations.
Thank you so much, Nicole, for sharing your story with us!