The Sky is the Limit: The Journey of a Girl from the DRC

For Mary Ambika Bahala, it's all about goals.

And it started early.

It started as a small child in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) when she and her family fled as refugees into Uganda with the goal of a safe place to live.

It started when she was seven years old and there came the opportunity to leave the refugee camp for the goal of a better life in the United States.

Mary Ambika at the front entrance to Mount Notre Dame High School in Cincinnati, Ohio

It started when she was in fifth grade when each day she would pass Mount Notre Dame High School in Cincinnati - and when she would say to herself, "One day...one day I will go there."

The goals built one upon the other, and all have come to pass.

Today, Mary is a junior at Mount Notre Dame High School and a recipient of a Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur scholarship. Her accents of French and Swahili are gone (though she can quicky drop into Swahili if need be). She performs in theater, she ministers through campus ministry, she particiaptes in student government. She welcomes new students to campus as a school ambassador, is studying yet another language (Spanish), and participates in the Model United Nations.

And on September 24, she achieved another goal: she became a United States citizen.

"Now that I have my citizenship I can go back to Africa and I can work for the United Nations and I can help with malaria," Mary says. Don't doubt her. She has a can-do ethusiasm, coupled with a trict work ethic, that has allowed her to accomplish one goal after another.

And the next goal? Law, she says. She wants to be a lawyer. And she sees Mount Notre Dame High School as preparing her as few others schools could.

"MND (Mount Notre Dame) is very leadership-based. I want to be a lawyer, and that takes leadership skills. And everything here, everything at MND, is done by the students, everything here is about our leadership. It's really helped me build my skills. It's really helped me in my life."

She adds, too, how the school and the Sisters have strengthened and reinforced her faith.

"I'm learning so much about my faith," she says, "and how to develop my relationship with Christ, and to learn His journey, and to go through His journey with Him."

"God is always there for me, she says, "no matter what."

First published in the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Ohio Province 2021 Annual Report. Request your copy HERE.