Making Kafar’s Dream Come True

Kafar Hassan with mentor Dean Amadon

Ethiopian refugee Kafar Hassan’s dream is coming true. Forced to leave his son Robel behind in Johannesburg, South Africa where they had found safe haven for several years, Kafar arrived in Hartford’s Asylum Hill neighborhood in 2013 when resettled by local Catholic Charities Migration, Refugee and Immigration Services. In Asylum Hill he found welcoming support and eventually an opportunity to succeed.

A life saving network of Hartford organizations and individuals collaborating to focus Kafar’s commitment to succeed led to his March 24, 2017 graduation from Manchester Community College’s Precision Manufacturing Program. With a hard-earned career-advancing cerification in hand, coupled with a good paying highly technical manufacturing job starting March 27, Kafar’s dream of reuniting with Robel is closer than ever.

Attending Kafar’s graduation was an uplifting highlight for me and several other members of the Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association’s (AHNA) Welcoming Committee there to cheer him on, and congratulate him for a job well done. Kafar’s success and the team that cleared his path is featured in  guest blogger Tim Blonsky’s article that follows. Tim is Advanced Manufacturing Coordinator at Capital Workforce Partners. His article highlights what can be accomplished when a community comes together to welcome a newcomer.
Be inspired. Be encouraged. Be energized.

Don Shaw, Jr
Writer and Editor

Kafar Hassan’s Advanced Manufacturing GraduationA Time for Dreams to Come True 
by Tim Blonsky
Advanced Manufacturing Coordinator Capital Workforce Partners  

Kafar’s Opportunity: Capital Workforce Partners’ Advanced Manufacturing Program
Capital Workforce Partners, working with partners from education and business, is pleased to announce the successful graduation of a number of previously under- and unemployed individuals who received certificates in Precision Manufacturing CPM/CAM 4 from Manchester Community College’s (MCC) Great Path Academy program on Friday, March 24, 2017.

Capital Workforce Partners’ Advanced Manufacturing Program, made possible by both federal and state grant investments, has led to ten participants successfully graduating on March 24 who will be placed in manufacturing jobs. This program is meeting one of the greatest challenges facing advanced manufacturing today — a labor shortage of trained workers much needed to sustain growth. The current generation of incumbent workers nearing retirement is leading to the critical need for the next generation of well-trained, advanced manufacturing workers.

In response to the need to support both interested job seekers, as well as advanced manufacturing employers, Capital Workforce Partners, working with its education and training partners and 45 manufacturing companies, have helped over 220 adults to get manufacturing credentials and/or jobs in the Manufacturing Industry. This program also provides a great opportunity for low-income individuals to pursue job training as a ladder out of poverty which will have a huge impact on their lives and those of their families and communities.

One of the graduates is Kafar Hassan, a resident of Hartford and refugee from Ethiopia, who came to Hartford five years ago via South Africa with the goal of establishing himself before bringing his wife and son stateside.  “Kafar proved to be one of our more dedicated and committed students right from the start. He always showed up to class on time and his approach to the classroom and machining labs was always with a winning and positive attitude. Strong class participation, aptitude, preparation and excellent program results were rewarded with a successful interview and an excellent first step in a manufacturing career at EDAC Technologies in Newington,” said Dave Russell, Manufacturing Program Director at MCC.

Kafar’s Journey
Kafar Hassan was born forty years ago in Jijiga, Ethiopia. He was raised by a single mother after his father was killed in ongoing tribal fighting. She and her family placed him in a seminary school in Nazareth, now known as Adama. There he completed high school and began his post-secondary education. However, because of continuing political strife and fighting, Kafar fled to Durban, South Africa in 1991. 

When Kafar arrived in Durban he volunteered with various human rights organizations eventually co-founding “International Refugees Services,” which was featured in a 2001 L.A.Times article. After seven years serving the needs of refugees, he was awarded a scholarship to the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Durban. While pursuing his studies he encountered difficulties in Durban and moved to Johannesburg where he made the decision to seek asylum in the United States. The process took about seven years during which time he met and married his wife Benicia. Their son, Robel, was born in 2008. Resettlement to America became a reality in 2013 through Catholic Charities’ Immigration and Refugee Resettlement Program though to meant leaving Benicia and Robel behind to follow him later once he was settled.

Dave Russell, MCC Manufacturing Program Director (left) and Nelson Robles, MCC Manufacturing Instructor (right)
award Kafar his Precision Manufacturing CPM/CAM 4 certificate

Kafar’s relocation to the United States initially placed him in Hartford’s Asylum Hill neighborhood. Through Hartford Public Library’s Cultural Navigator Program, which supports the transition of new arrival immigrants and refugees, Kafar was introduced to and welcomed by members of the Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association (AHNA), as well as matched with a dedicated volunteer mentor, Dean Amadon, from the Asylum Hill Congregational Church. Over the past few years, Kafar and Dean formed a partnership focused on supporting Kafar’s determination to move forward.

Nancy Caddigan from Hartford Public Library and Dean Amadon congratulate Kafar Hassan.
Nancy introduced Kafar to Dean who became Kafar’s mentor

Heartbreakingly, Benicia became ill with cancer and passed away in 2015, leaving his son to be cared for by relief workers in South Africa. 

Until recently Kafar was earning an hourly wage of less than $10.50 at a small, local company — not enough to allow saving for the fare to bring his son to the United States.  But a solution was in the works. Through an introduction orchestrated by Dean Amadon, Kafar was referred to Capital Workforce Partners where he was introduced to the Advanced Manufacturing Training program at MCC. The program provides entry level CNC Machining training, placement assistance, and an accredited certificate upon successful program completion. To support his participation in the training program, a number of individuals generously contributed to Kafar’s tuition and living costs. 

Kafar was a member of Friday’s graduating class. His academic success enabled him to be hired by EDAC Technologies in Newington in a position with opportunity for growth.  With the good fortune of beginning his new career immediately upon graduation, Kafar now has the means to pay his son’s way to the United States. His dream of having his family brought together again may be realized soon. A bright future is on the horizon for Kafar and Robel.

Celebrating Kafar’s graduation.
L-R Tim Blonsky, Dean Amadon, Nancy Caddigan, Kafar Hassan,Rio Comaduran, Jennifer Cassidy, and Don Shaw, Jr.
(Not pictured is Bernie Michel who took the photo)

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