Abusana "Micky" Bondo
Cocomaine's Dynamic & Committed Leader
photo credit: Alix Brown Photography
Ms. Bondo was born in the city of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She completed her higher education in the Congo and Belgium as a Biochemist with a specialty in sickle cell disease. After her studies she became administrator of a hospital in Kinshasa for more than six years, before she had to flee in 1996 due to the uprising war and conflict in the Congo.
Ms. Bondo’s journey in the United States began in the state of Georgia, where her family had to start over again.
Not knowing what to expect in a new country with new laws and different systems, Ms. Bondo was caught in a predicament many immigrants often face. "Even though I had my [BA/Master] credentials, they could not recognize my degrees, so I had to go back to school". Regardless of whatever obstacles that came her way, Ms.Bondo chose to be persistent and she eventually received two associate degrees, found a great job and lived in Georgia for 15 years. In 2008, Ms. Bondo and her family chose to leave George for Maine.
She recalls leaving Georgia because of how poorly the educational system down south was affected with the collapse of the 2008 economy. "I am very passionate about education, and giving that passion to my own kids. And when I looked around and saw it was going down because of the crisis, I said we really need to invest in some place else. I took it as a call for me, because I have strong faith." And moving to Maine, proved to be beneficial to her family, but most importantly to her and her development as a leader and an advocate.
Once integrated into the Maine community, she saw that many immigrant families in the area struggled to engage in their children's education and school, mainly due to language barriers. And when she saw that no one spoke up or advocated for them she decided to take on that role, and has never looked back. She saw a huge confidence boost from parents and witnessed parents become more involved. Her power of advocacy made changes in the lives of fellow immigrants. It was after seeing the ripple effects of her advocacy that prompted her to sit down with a fellow Burundian friend and colleague, and create an organization where it would become a "place where I could be in the frontline and start speaking about women. and I chose women because I am woman and I am an immigrant and I’ve been through many of these challenges. I cannot say I’ve overcome them but I’ve come halfway." Through this organization (In her Presence) she also made a conscious decision to not only empower Congolese women but to also reach out to other women because at the end of the day women face the same struggles, whether it is violence or domestic violence. "We share the same struggles", she shared. Today, over 85 women of different background come together to participate in 5 of the programs the organization runs. Find your voice is a theme of one of the programs, and it has been success.
Ms. Bondo has been instrumental in advocating for policy changes in the Maine educational system especially those affecting low income families and immigrants. She is also a public speaker for the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, where she engages in workshops at huge universities such as Georgetown University, Columbia University and Washington University in DC. The workshops focus on minority education and how to engage different areas of education. She's also a Coalition Parent Leader Organizer for Portland Empowered, and translator for the Portland Public High school system.
A truly distinct and dynamic woman, she is also involved in the Maine's Congolese Community women's commission, where she advocates on behalf of Congolese women and the Congolese community at large. She believes that " together, we are able to do a lot" and as community there is always a lot to prove. She shared her frustration on how, "some people see us here and they think we just come and take from the welfare system and we just have to prove them wrong. We are here, we have knowledge and skills. So for me, I try to encourage the collective community to exploit their knowledge. I have the mindset that we all can accomplish something."
In the 2018 United States Midterm elections, Ms. Bondo ran for School Board of Education, and won. Her victory made her the FIRST Congolese American woman to be elected to public office in Portland, Maine. With gratitude she shared that this has been one of her greatest accomplishments as a leader who knows will make an impact on thousands of students. This was an important win.
"When you are on the menu not the table you become victim of all the decisions they will make for you. The best place to be is where the decisions are made, where you have a voice for the voiceless and where you can make your ideas heard, and build policies and laws that include everyone. I was thinking about public office. Everything I went through when I look at the value of my own education, I just figured that I can do that. I have a lot to learn, and a lot of homework, but I made the decision that I can do it."
"I went through the political process as Congolese, and as a women, and I am so proud of the end results. It is opening up the door to women of color. There is no limit. And I am now an elected official."
On what it means to be an empowered Congolese woman
"Really trying to set an example. It means having the self confidence to bring yourself to the table. We are all the same. You are powerful, and you just have to believe it. Everything just has to come from your heart. You have to break the barriers of low self-esteem that makes you believe that you have nothing to offer. I tell these women I serve that it is not about education, it is about what you are bringing to the table. Because we need to define all aspects of education. Those who have degrees still have to eat and rely on the entrepreneurs, so everything you have, you can use. Thats an empowering message I want to share."
Message for the Young Congolese
"You need to see what is happening right now across the state with the midterm elections happening. You see what just happened in Minnesota? I am over 50, but if I can tell my kids anything, I tell them if you want to achieve something, nothing can stop you. When you really see what is happening right now. You are assured you can bring your voice to the table. We all can’t do politicians but there are different ways we can all become engaged. Especially the young right now, you have technology at your disposal and can use it to bring change. You have the game changer, and this is the right time to bring your voice to the table. Technology is a game changer. Use it."
WE THANK MS. BONDO FOR HER INVOLVEMENT IN THE #CONGOLESEGIRLMAGIC CAMPAIGN! HER STORY AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS ARE THE EMBODIMENT OF #CONGOLESEGIRLMAGIC.
WE SEE HER, WE RECOGNIZE HER, AND WE UPLIFT HER. PLEASE JOIN US IN DOING THE SAME BY SHARING HER PROFILE WITH THE WORLD. THIS IS HOW WE CHANGE THE NARRATIVE.