Oakba, a mother of five and a participant in Santa Maria’s Promoting Our Preschoolers (POP) program and African Mom’s Group, has shown incredible determination and growth since joining the program. Her journey, filled with challenges and triumphs, is a testament to her resilience and the support she has received from Santa Maria.

Oakba, originally from Eritrea, came to Cincinnati in 2013. She didn’t speak English and faced numerous obstacles in adapting to her new life. However, with the help of Santa Maria Oakba has made remarkable progress.

Regine Gordon, Santa Maria POP Family Advocate, has been working with Oakba in recent years. She has provided support for three of Oakba’s five sons (so far!). “Oakba was very resourceful in finding what she needed,” Regine said. Oakba has been able to navigate the challenges of living in a new country and overcoming language barriers as well as expanding her parenting skills and preparing her sons for school.

Oakba’s dedication to her children’s education has been extraordinary. Despite the language barrier, she was determined to ensure her children’s success in school. Oakba diligently monitors the progress of her older sons on Powerschool, the Cincinnati Public Schools website, to ensure they are on track and expects nothing less than A’s.

Regine’s admiration for Oakba’s commitment shines through her words: “She truly amazes me! She came to our country, didn’t know our language but is learning it and now has her citizenship and recently got a job! She keeps an immaculate house and is so involved in her son’s education.”

Oakba’s thirst for knowledge and self-improvement is evident in her journey to learn English. When she first joined the African Mom’s Group, she knew very little English and just went to listen and learn. Soon she was building her own English language skills. While she may not be perfect, she has made remarkable progress in speaking and understanding the language. Oakba’s determination to communicate with her children in English and participate in community activities is truly commendable.

One of the most significant milestones in Oakba’s journey was obtaining her U.S. citizenship. She was thrilled to celebrate this momentous achievement. This incredible accomplishment symbolized her integration into her new home and her commitment to building a better life for her family.

Santa Maria’s support went beyond early childhood development, providing Oakba with essentials, including diapers and gift cards to help her family thrive. Oakba sees Santa Maria as more than just an organization; “Santa Maria is like my family,” she said. She is incredibly appreciative of Santa Maria’s continuous assistance and guidance.

Oakba’s story is a testament to the power of determination, support, and community. Her journey from a newcomer with limited English skills to a confident, self-sufficient individual who is actively engaged in her children’s education and community is inspiring. Oakba’s success exemplifies the mission of Santa Maria in helping families break the cycles of generational poverty and achieve self-sufficiency.


Watch our Interview with Oakba