Michelo Mokolo is no stranger to hardship.
He grew up in Congo where, from a young age, he showed great talent for basketball.
But Congo didn’t offer many opportunities to play professionally. So, his family moved to Sudan to allow him the opportunity to pursue his passion.
I played there for two years and loved it. I was even on a team with the tallest guy in the world!
But things there weren’t perfect. My family struggled with religious persecution.
The Sudanese government came after us. They made life really hard for us and even went as far as putting us in jail. It was getting dangerous. So, my mom sent me and my younger brother to Egypt.
Despite facing unimaginable adversity, Michelo didn’t let himself despair. Instead, he continued following his dreams.
I wasn’t going to stop pursuing a basketball career just because I had to move to a new country! I ended up playing overseas a lot and had a great time.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t making enough money. You see, I got married at 20. And by the time I turned 23, I had a child who depended on me.
To provide for my family, I decided to move to the U.S. and find work. Everyone thought I would be part of the NBA. But I couldn’t wait for that to happen. I needed a job immediately.
Without missing a beat, Michelo made the hard decision to let go of basketball. And impressively, he did it without any bitter feelings. He kept a positive outlook.
That said, it wasn’t always easy.
When I first came to the U.S., I drove 18 wheelers across the country. It was fun at times, but I would often be away from my family for weeks. I would come home for a few days and have to go away again. It was really tough to be gone so much.
In order to be closer to his family, Michelo switched industries and started working in a warehouse. He worked there for years, proving himself over and over again and gaining many valuable skills along the way.
And yet, he still didn’t get many opportunities for growth.
To improve his situation, Michelo decided to get his certification in advanced mechanics. He went to school for several months.
I didn’t qualify for financial aid, so I had to work full-time to pay for school. I was so busy, I didn’t even sleep at night anymore.
Neither my job or school ended up working out. It was just too much. I was in desperate need of a new opportunity! Unfortunately, people don’t always take a chance on me so I had a hard time finding work.
That’s when I connected with TERRA’s Aurora team. It was amazing. Unlike everyone else, they didn’t dismiss me! They found me a warehouse job right away.
It was just the position — and the employer — that Michelo needed. You can simply hear the joy in his voice when he speaks about his new job. He is so thrilled, he could talk about it for hours.
I found my dream job! From the very first day, I connected with my colleagues. They instantly felt like family. And my boss, Daniel, is a great man. We’ve really bonded.
After a month in the warehouse, I knew I’d found my second home. Then, my boss told me he was looking for a box truck driver to do food deliveries. Since I used to drive much bigger trucks, I was sure I could do the job. I told him, and he gave me the position. It was so wonderful!
Now, I drive my own box truck every day and deliver food to seniors. I know everyone in the neighborhood and I’ve even become a little famous — which I love!
I came to the US and found my dream job! It’s the best. I am so blessed!
His advice to someone starting a new job?
When you come to work, try to be strong, both mentally and physically. More than that, have a good attitude and good energy. Be positive, humble and work hard. Listen and observe before taking action.
And, most importantly, try to make people’s lives a little easier and better. After all, with a smile, you have the power to make someone’s day brighter. If you spend your energy on helping others, I believe you can be successful.
Congratulations, Michelo! We are so happy to see your success after so many challenges. Your joy for life and selfless outlook are inspiring!
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