OUR Founders' STORY
Aline Binyungu and Clement Shabani, a married couple from the Congo, both social workers with human rights training, had to leave their country of origin unwillingly in 2006. From her personal experience as a girl growing up in the Congo, Aline made a personal vow that if she received an education and got a chance, she would do everything possible to defend the rights of women and children.
Clement Shabani (left) and Aline Binyungu (right), cofounders of Women's Refugee Care. The husband and wife team founded WRC in 2016. Aline serves as the Executive Director and Clement serves as the Project Manager.
"We were born in a country where the customs prevail against the rights of women and girls. We witnessed firsthand how much women and children were discriminated against. We were raised in an environment where a girl going to school was a luxury.”
With these goals in mind, Aline and Clement went to Rhode Island College to pursue their studies in the Social Human Service Assistant program (SHSA). They wanted to learn more about the social services and welfare system work in the U.S. At the same time, they started accompanying local resettlement agencies to the airport to welcome new refugees upon arrival from the Great Lakes Region of Africa, as they speak similar languages. They also started providing African cultural food to the new families to help them relax and start to heal from their long and often stressful journeys.
Eight years after leaving their country and following a long transition in Thailand, Aline and Clement arrived in Rhode Island with their children in 2014. Like many refugees, they faced numerous issues and challenges in the resettlement process. No one spoke their language upon arrival, they did not know anyone in the local community and there was no formal orientation on transitioning into the American society and system. As a result, they made a further commitment that they would do everything possible to ensure a more welcoming and smoother transition for other refugees arriving in Rhode Island.
In 2016, Aline and Clement saw the impact they could have on the refugee community and thus founded "Women's Refugee Care" (WRC) a non-profit organization to help them expand the services they were providing to the refugees. Today WRC goes beyond meeting families at the airport and providing cultural food, and now provides clothing to the families, conducts regular home visits to ensure the families are adjusting well and locating the services they need to create their new life in the US.