Mary’s Center Provides Healthcare, Confidence…and a New Career

Mulu, her husband and their two month-old baby moved to Washington DC in 2005, fleeing political upheaval in Ethiopia. Without family nearby or money, she didn’t know where to turn when her son developed an infection. Fortunately, some members of the Ethiopian community pointed her to Mary’s Center for help. One of our pediatricians treated her son and gave him the vaccinations he needed.

As a new mom aged 25, Mulu was still anxious about her son’s health, rushing to the clinic whenever he cried, had a runny nose or refused to eat. To ease her anxiety, the pediatrician encouraged her to attend the early childhood classes offered by our education partner, Briya Public Charter School.

That suggestion opened the door to a successful career and financial independence. Mulu enrolled in the Child Development Associate program in 2006 and passed her board test in 2007. “I was so excited. Getting my certificate helped me to realize that whatever I want to do I can do it!” 

She volunteered at the Gap Community Child Development Center in Northwest DC and impressed the manager, who saw her potential and hired Mulu as a Teacher Aide. Within six months, she had been promoted to Infant/Toddler Teacher. Mulu worked there for 10 years, thoroughly enjoying her work with the children. Determined to go even further, she studied towards an Associate degree in Early Childhood Education through Central Texas College and graduated in May 2016.

Mulu reads to a child in her daycare

Mulu then decided to open her own home child care center, caring for nine children. “I wanted to help my community, which is mostly a low-income community. I saw that they didn’t have quality childcare and I knew that I could provide that.” Mulu is happy to contribute to her family’s financial success and provide an inspiring example for her three children. “They say ‘We are so proud of you, because you are a strong woman and because you have continued your education and you have your own business!”

Mulu emphasizes that she wouldn’t be where she was without the staff at Mary’s Center and Briya, from the kind doctor who cared for her son, to the CDA staff who supported her dream of opening her own daycare and helping the community, and the Quality Improvement Network staff who continue to provide her with coaching and other supports. “The staff don’t just do their job. They really go the extra mile,” she says.

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