Elizabeth Mande came to the United States as a refugee from the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo in 1998. Her goal was to forge a path in her new country for her husband, Boniface, who served as a captain in the Congolese army, and their ten children. Before Elizabeth could find the resources and the help she needed, she endured three years of homelessness on Boston’s streets.

With Paul Epstein and others’ help, Mande was able to bring her entire family to the United States. In Brookline, the Mandes’ upstanding children’s names are Cathy, Madeleine, Achilene, Yannick, Nancy, Jeansmine, Geraldine, Jonathan, Merveille, and Michee (oldest to youngest.); and nine grandchildren.

In 2019, Elizabeth and Boniface were the recipients of the 2019 Brookline Youth Awards Suriel Guerrero Parent of the Year award for their courage, humanity, and dedication to young people.

Earlier this year, most of the Mande family were stricken by the coronavirus. Elizabeth and Boniface each spent long stretches in the ICU. All of the Mandes, armed with a will that’s stronger than rope, thankfully survived. But the economic impact of the pandemic has been devasting to the Mande family.

Despite an ailing back, Elizabeth works two jobs, one of them in the nursing home where she first contracted the virus. Boniface, severely affected by his battle with COVID, is still not able to work.

The story of the Mande family is the story of America. They came to the United States as refugees looking for a better life. Like many immigrant families, they overcame tremendous hardships along the wayPerhaps the Mande’s greatest achievement is not overcoming the obstacles they faced but how they did not let their struggles dim their ambition or fundamental belief in their own self-worth or the goodness inherent in others.

While it is true that the pandemic sweeping through this country has affected almost everyone, it is also true that the coronavirus has hit our most vulnerable populations the hardest.

The Mande Family has been nothing short of a gift to our community. We ask that you help us support them in their hour of need.

Support the Mande Family Go-Fund-Me

Harvey Bravman and Paul Epstein