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"HELLO" program helps refugees in Buffalo

Posted at 11:33 PM, Dec 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-09 23:33:27-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Once a week for the past two months, Mikala Adams and Gengba Mpiana meet in Mpiana's West Side Buffalo home through the "HELLO" program.

The program is an English as a new language program hosted through the International Institute of Buffalo designed specifically for those who may not be able to attend classes in person--like Mpiana.

"We match them up with someone in the community to teach them English reading, writing and conversation," Jordan Soldaczewski, Community Engagement Coordinator with International Institute of Buffalo, said. She runs the HELLO program.

Adams is a sophomore at Canisius College, originally from Central New York. Mpiana is a refugee, originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who came to Buffalo with her family in June.

"We went over the alphabet, what's your phone number, address, stuff like that," Adams said. Currently the program has 30 volunteers and 30 clients in the program, which Soldaczewski said is only expected to grow. Those enrolled meet for at least 12 weeks.

"It's great for our clients to learn English with a native speaker, but it also helps them create a connection in the community that creates a long lasting partnership and friendship," Soldaczewski said.