September 08, 2023 News

From Asylum Seeker to Small Business Owner: How a helping hand turned tragedy into triumph for a Delmar woman

Diane Mbombo-Tite is a successful small business owner living in Delmar, NY. Fluent in five languages, she founded Akula Interpreting and Translation during the height of the COVID-19 crisis. Today, she works with local schools, hospitals, health care organizations, and government agencies to provide critical language services* to individuals and families in need. 

The road to success was not easy for Mbombo-Tite who in 2015 was an asylum seeker escaping dangerous living conditions in the Republic of Congo. Pregnant and with a toddler in tow, the young mother found her way to Albany, NY where she lived on the streets before giving birth.  

“I was homeless when I had my daughter. I remember leaving the hospital in a cab and had nowhere to go. I had a housing voucher but couldn’t find a landlord who would accept me. It was honestly safer and cheaper to live on the streets.”

That’s when Mbombo-Tite found Family Promise of the Capital Region, a not-for-profit, community-based organization that helps homeless families find stable housing.

“My mother always told me, ‘If you’re ever in trouble, find a church,’ so that’s what I did. There they told me about Family Promise, a network of congregations that provides families with stable housing and connection to local resources.” 

Over the next nine months, Family Promise made sure Diane had a safe place to sleep, helped her obtain employment, enrolled her and her children in health care coverage through CDPHP, and connected her with an immigration attorney. They even reminded her about and accompanied her to doctor’s appointments.

“I cannot put into words how they changed my life. From simple things like, providing me with a postal address so I could apply for health insurance to big things like, paying for an immigration attorney so I could become a US citizen. I truly don’t know where I would be without Family Promise.”

In her journey from homelessness to having her own apartment to a small business owner no longer dependent on social services, Mbombo has found a way to pay it forward. Today, she is an American citizen who is giving back in a way that’s both personal to her and impactful to her community.

“Learning the English language was key to my success. I knew I could make a big difference providing translation services, so people like me would have access to the resources and services they need to be successful.”

As a community-based organization, Family Promise depends on the financial support of organizations, like CDPHP, to carry out its mission. Since its inception, CDPHP has been a proud supporter of Family Promise, donating critical funds that have allowed individuals, like Diane Mbombo-Tite, to thrive in our community.

* Language services encompass speech (or interpreting) and the written word (or translation).

Ali Skinner
About the Author

Ali Skinner is a communications professional with nearly 20 years of media, marketing, advertising, and public relations experience. She joined CDPHP in November 2011 and currently serves as Vice President, Communications and External Affairs for one of the top health plans in New York and the nation. In this role, Ali oversees all internal and external communications, public relations, and government relations for the plan’s 400,000 members and 1,200 employees. A self-described recovering journalist, Ali spent 10 years writing and delivering news for a number of television and radio stations in the Syracuse and Albany, NY markets. Today, she uses her journalism background to help patients and the public make sense of complex health care topics.

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