Gisèle Mafulu and family left an uncomfortable political climate in South Africa for the Shuswap where they are flourishing. (Photo contributed)

Welcome Shuswap: A neighbour from South Africa

Shuswap Immigrant Services Society, located at 371 Hudson St. NE, would like to introduce some of our recent immigrants to the people of Salmon Arm in the hope that all citizens join us in extending a welcome to the new members of our community. Our organization is a non-profit, non-governmental society with a mission to foster a culture of education, tolerance and community that assists and empowers immigrants of the Shuswap region of British Columbia in the integration and settlement of life in Canada.

Please join us in welcoming Gisèle Mafulu, who has come to us from South Africa and formerly from Congo.

Gisèle is the mother of three young children, Kylie, 3, Jacey, 5 and Paris, 8.

She has a degree in economics, is currently studying at Okanagan College and is a member of the board of directors at Shuswap Immigrant Services.

Related: Welcome Shuswap: A love story from the Ukraine

As you can imagine, this results in a very busy life. Her husband, Patrick, is an M.D. currently practicing in Enderby and Salmon Arm as a GP, although he has worked for 11 years as an Emergency Specialist in Africa.

The family arrived in Salmon Arm in January of 2017 directly from South Africa, as Patrick was offered a job in Enderby. They found a house in Salmon Arm where the older children and Gisèle attend school. They like the peaceful and quiet feel of Salmon Arm and enjoy the seasons of the year.

Gisèle and Patrick met in Kinshasa, Congo where they lived as part of their families. Gisèle left her parents, two sisters and two brothers in Kinshasa.

One sister has a diploma as a pharmacist. One brother has a degree in information technology and has been unable to find employment for two years. The other siblings are still studying.

Life is very hard in Congo, both economically and politically. The country has lots of natural resources, but the profits on them are used for personal gain by the politicians. Free speech does not exist and it is very dangerous to speak out.

Patrick and Gisèle left for South Africa where Patrick worked as an Emergency Physician and Gisèle was working in the stock market before the opportunity arose to come to Canada. The opportunity offered by the move to Canada was attractive, as the political situation in South Africa was becoming uncomfortable and the crime and lack of safety made the young family wish for a new life in a safe place.

Related: Welcome Shuswap: Syrian refugee makes new home in Salmon Arm

Gisèle and Patrick enjoy travelling and Gisèle is interested in fashion and design.

If you have been lucky enough to see her (at the Multicultural Festival in June) in one of her “pagne” fabric dresses, you will know this about her.

Pagne is the printed cotton fabric that is found all over Africa in stores and markets and its bright and colourful variety is put to good use by fashionable young women.

She got her interest in fashion from her mother and is able to sew her own clothes.

She is upgrading her education to a degree in Business Administration, with a view to becoming a chartered accountant. She finds the work easy as it is familiar.

Gisèle also studies English and, while this is not quite so easy, she has made great strides and learns quickly.

The whole family is flourishing here in the Shuswap.


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