Meet Synthia Barry, Match Grant Specialist, World Relief Spokane

My name is Synthia Barry. I am from Burkina Faso located in West Africa. I was born and raised in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. I have four siblings, two brothers and two sisters. I have lived in Spokane for about three years, and I live with my husband who is also from Burkina Faso. I moved to the U.S. in 2010 right after I graduated from high school. My brother was already living in Seattle at the time.

I speak French plus two other dialects from my country. As most of our refugee clients, I didn’t have
much English upon arrival. I started as a level three, taking English classes for about a year or so. After ESL, I started college right away at North Seattle Community College. Two years later, I graduated with an Associate Degree in Business Administration. After graduation, I was immediately accepted at Eastern Washington University, then moved to Spokane. It has now been three years since I moved to Spokane, and last June I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Business Operations Management.

I always like to keep myself busy, and I am always up for learning new things. For instance, while I was taking English classes, I was also volunteering in a nursing home, spending time with the elderly. A few months later, I got certified and worked for two years as a certified nurse assistant while also completing community college. Once in Spokane, I had to focus on my bachelor’s degree.

I got a job as a community manager, managing an 18-unit apartment for three years now. I have plans to go back to school and complete my MBA, but for now I enjoy working with World Relief. Working there is a blessing for me. I have always been a big fan of diversity and working with people in poverty, helping and empowering people to help themselves. I believe I got that heart from my mom who is a social worker. She works for one of our children hospitals back home. I remember volunteering with her each time I was on school break. I was helping with small tasks, such as food distribution, recording donations, distribution of toys, and sometimes babysitting. Actually, working with our refugees reminds me a little of that time.

Working as a caseworker is a significant task, but it is also very rewarding. Refugees come to America with so many different experiences, after being forced to flee for their lives. I am a Match Grant specialist, working with both case management and job development. Our main goal is to make our clients self-sufficient and not rely on the government money. My job can be very intense and overwhelming, but so rewarding. We see life changing moves and our brave refugees are successfully rebuilding their lives in the U.S.

I love telling people I have the best job ever, which is to help our refugees start their new life in America. I am also proud to say that I have made amazing friends among them. They invite me to their house, share their food with me, read me words in their language, tell me about their culture, and I do the same. They have become family to not only me, but also to all these people who let them touch their heart. I love America so much. We have people from so many different backgrounds. Let’s all appreciate each other, learn from each other, and most of all love each other.