Champion of Change: Mone Aye

Champion of Change: Mone Aye

Mone Aye spent the first 19 years of her life in a refugee camp. The challenges she faced when she came to the United States inspired her to help others, and she was instrumental in establishing EMBARC. Honored as a White House Champion of Change for World Refugees in 2015, she has dedicated her work to creating opportunities for those in need.

Mone Aye was born in a refugee camp in Thailand and lived there until she was 19. In 2007, her family applied to come to the United States and was accepted. They moved to Iowa, but starting their lives over again in a new country with a new culture was challenging. When they first arrived, they didn’t know much English, so even getting to doctors’ appointments was difficult. Services were available, but with cultural and linguistic barriers, the family didn’t know how to access them.

Mone’s experience led her to join forces with five other ethnic community members and co-found EMBARC in 2011. They shared a common goal: to help refugees succeed and achieve a better quality of life. Volunteers and board members — many refugees themselves — began providing critical support to newcomers, ultimately empowering them to create self-sustaining, community-based support systems.

In 2014, Mone became a United States citizen, and she was honored as a White House Champion of Change for World Refugees in 2015. Today, she has her own family and is proud to serve her community as a bilingual outreach worker for Des Moines Public Schools. She also teaches English classes on Saturdays.

As a co-founder and board president of EMBARC since its formation, Mone has made an impact in the community that is beyond measure. She not only understands what newcomers face, but also brings compassion and dedication to her role in connecting them with resources. In her words, “I do whatever it takes to ensure the safety and comfort of my community members as a board member of EMBARC.”

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