My mother, Enid, left Uganda and came to America in the mid-’80s after her two brothers were killed during her home country’s civil war. She met my father while studying for her first degree at UDC. She continued her education and worked full-time until I was born. She worked hard to earn her bachelor’s degree, even while moving to Georgia and expanding her family.
My mother raised her four children with strong values, including a global citizenship mindset. She taught us to make a difference in our world, environment, and generation. She discovered a deep passion for helping parents who come to this country from other shores and have trouble in their marriages and parenting, especially in a different culture. She wanted to address these challenges, so she went back to school and earned a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling.
When our family moved back to Virginia in 2013, I hoped to work for the government but did not know how to go about it. The next day, my mother and I attended church and met a man who introduced me to then-Congressman Frank Wolf. Soon, I was working for him at the U.S. Capitol. When he retired, I worked for a New York senator and then for the Obama Administration, where I helped with policies concerning the environment and climate change.
As usual, life has a way of throwing us curveballs. After more than 27 years of marriage, my father suddenly left our family in 2016—without saying a word to any of us.
No family in Loudoun should have to cope with such loss.
THE NEXT CHAPTER
I believe tragedy is not intended to destroy us but to soften our hearts. Our church community supported us. Because of their kindness, we did not fall. We were fortunate to have a professionally trained counselor in our mother, who could help us all heal.
In 2014, my mother and I founded a nonprofit to help new immigrants—mostly high school-aged girls—and under-served families find their way through a system that can seem daunting to navigate. We help them adjust to their new culture and community, enroll in educational courses, and find internships or jobs. Along the way, we provide these families with hope, purpose, encouragement, and opportunities.
Many of the young women who come to Loudoun from various countries do not quite understand how different it will be to live here. Many come here only to find themselves on the periphery, thinking they will never fit in. People need to feel authentic connections with friends, co-workers, church members, and neighbors. My family’s journey has taught us that we all can open our eyes and our hearts to embrace everyone from every culture. If we do, we can go far to make this a richer nation and to End the Need in Loudoun.
Editor’s note: Bo Machayo is chief of staff for county Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large).
As part of the Community Foundation’s Faces of Loudoun campaign, Loudoun Now is publishing monthly articles highlighting men, women and children who have found a helping hand when they needed it most. Learn more or donate to help End the Need at FacesofLoudoun.org.