Meet the Staff: Imelda Lelong, Dietary Aide

When did you start to work at Selfhelp and what inspired you to start working here?
I started working here about 2 years ago. I didn’t really know much about this place, but when I found it and visited for the first time to see if I want to apply, I instantly noticed how nice all the people are here. So, I like this job very much!

Why did you choose Chicago out of all the cities?
I feel very safe here! It is very secure, and you also have transportation like CTA all the time.

What things do you like to do when you are not at work?
What I like most is to relax and watch a movie or a documentary.

What country are you from?
Originally, I am from the Central African Republic. Because of the war there I moved to Chad, next to the Central African Republic. But in the end, I ended up here in the United States! I came in April 2021.

Do you like any of the traditional food there?
I would say cassava (a root vegetable sort of similar to potato) is the first thing I can think of.

What work did you do before you started working here?
I started to work in Chad. I worked in a bakery.

How has your experience been adjusting to a new culture and working environment?
It took a little bit of time to get used to everything because it is very different, but I like this job more than my last one.

Can you share any differences you’ve noticed between your home country and here?
The United States is very big in comparison and what is very important is that you get your money! In Africa you sometimes work one or two months without getting your money. So, this job is safer.

Do you still visit your home country?

Can you tell us about your family?
I have four brothers and one sister in the Central African Republic. I am the only one in America. I have a 14 year old son in my country and I have applied for him to come to America but he has not been able to come yet.

What is your first language, and do you still use it?
My first language is Sango, but I also speak French. There are not many people who speak Sango.

Is there anything interesting you want to share about your home country?
They have very good clothes sometimes, especially good shoes!