TMC employee turns hardship into inspiration

Donatian Mahanga TMC 2At the age of 10, Donatian Mahanga became a refugee in the Congo, introduced to the overwhelming challenges of intense poverty, starvation, disease and political strife.

There was a constant shortage of food and medicine. “We buried people every day because of starvation,” he said. Of his 32 aunts, only three survived.

That incredible story of survival fueled a positive mindset and a deep passion to help others.

“People ask me why I am always smiling,” said Mahanga, who works in environmental services at Tucson Medical Center. “It is one of the ways I heal my heart.”

United Way Champions 2017 Donatian MahangaMahanga, who recently served as a champion in TMC’s United Way campaign, also finds healing in giving to others after being affected by more than 20 years of moving between refugee camps in the Congo and Uganda.

War and deprived living conditions claimed six of his 12 siblings. The harrowing experiences were made worse when he was abandoned by his parents at age 13, leaving he and his remaining siblings to fend for food and clothes.

Mahanga was surrounded by a terrible situation that he felt was consuming a generation of young Africans. He wanted to improve living conditions – but not just for him, for his community.

“So many people were suffering at zero. There was no hope at all – I wanted to create a change,” he said. Mahanga took part in organizing a group of young men called COBURWAS International Youth Organization to Transform Africa (CIYOTA). What is COBURWAS? The founders took letters from the names of the countries that refugees traveled from: Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Sudan.

Donatian Mahanga CIYOTA 3Their first step was to raise funds and learn craftsmanship. Mahanga, himself, helped build a school in the refugee camp. “Without education, nothing will do!”

He brought the diverse group of refugees together, and taught himself eight languages in the process. “If you want to help someone, speaking in their language will put them at ease.” He helped many express their grief through performance and song, a method he still uses to engage refugee communities in Tucson.

Mahanga and his friends even reached out to sources in the United States to provide medicine and mosquito nets to treat and stop Malaria, which claims so many lives in the refugee area.

CIYOTA also advocated for women’s rights and encouraged young women to obtain an education, a rare pursuit for women in refugee settlements.

Donatian Mahanga CIYOTA 2After 12 years in operation, CIYOTA has grown into an international, volunteer-based non-profit, that is now organized in the U.S.

Mahanga is glad to see the school he built become a large and prosperous education center. “My number one goal is always to help people,” he said.

In August of 2016, Mahanga came to America with his wife and five children. A temporary staffing agency helped him get a job with TMC and his position soon became permanent.

“TMC is the right place for me –the workers treat each other and the patients with such compassion,” Mahanga explained. “They really show humanity – always working to help others.”

A friend from Uganda reached out to Mahanga to say good bye because he could not afford a life-saving surgery. He was touched when his coworkers raised the needed funds.

TMC monument signHe has already begun helping others, donating his time to help other refugees find work and acclimate to life in the United States. “Change is a part of life, but everyone should feel proud of who they are.”

“Donatian’s love for humanity is visible from the moment you meet him,” said Beth Dorsey, the director of food, nutrition and environmental services at TMC. “His compassion for others truly shows in all he does at TMC and for the community.”

Mahanga is proud to work at TMC and proud of the difference he’s making in the community. Most of all, he enjoys spending time with his wife and children, ages 2 through 10. “The secret to happiness is being content with what you have.”

 

 

Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    A truly wonderful human.

  2. Ndayambaje kalinda says:

    Absolutely he is him by the look.

  3. I am so grateful to have had this man cross my path and so many more courageous refugees.

  4. What a remarkable person! I loved reading this story. It is inspiring to see you persevere through so much and strive to fill others lives with happiness. We need more of this in the world! Best wishes in all you pursue .

  5. Wow, this man is a truly remarkable human being. I honestly hope he goes far at TMC.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Such a great person always smiling and helping people. So glad to have met him as well.

  7. Today I am a MasterCard Scholar pursuing a Bachelor of Health Services Management at Africa University in Zimbabwe. Mahanga taught me how to listen to people and the secret of learning. He told me “to empty myself and always be empathetic”, his advice and guidance earned me a scholarship. He is a true asset of inspiration to Humanity. I have learned from him that impacting the life of someone does not require any financial (Money) or a degree or PhD, it is just by committing yourself by doing one good thing.

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