Josie and Norman Chinkono – Part 2: New Life in America

If you haven’t read Part 1 of Josie and Norman Chinkono’s story, click here to read it.

We left Josie and Norman as they met and married and prepared to travel to the United States to continue their education.

Norman graduated from college in Malawi with a degree in engineering and mechanics.  After graduation, he couldn’t find a job in his field so he worked in a bank.  Josie was finished with secondary school and still at home helping her mother with her job with a security company before they were married.  Norman wanted to continue his education so he decided to come to the United States.  He had a friend from the bank in Malawi who moved to Indiana and invited Norman to live with him and go to school. Norman didn’t have the money to travel to the US so Josie’s mom paid for his plane fare. He traveled 8,400 miles to study accounting at IU South Bend and start a completely new life.

When I asked Norman how his parents felt about him moving to the United States, he said they were sad but they understood.    This was his chance to break the cycle of poverty in his family.  Both Norman and Josie talked about the wealth of opportunities they have in the United States as opposed to their life in Malawi.

Josie and Norman lived in South Bend until 2004 when they moved to Indianapolis to raise Vanessa  (born in 2000) and Victor (born inn 2002) in a larger city and continue their education.

Josie, Norman and Vanessa (6 months)
Victor age 2
Vanessa age 4

When they moved to Indianapolis, Josie started attending Ivy Tech to study nursing.  She worked in a factory and then a nursing home while she attended school taking courses one at a time and caring for the children.  Josie felt like it was taking too long to complete her nursing degree so she applied to ITT and completed a 2-year RN program in 2009.  When she graduated, she attended Indiana Wesleyan and earned her BSN in 2014.

Life got really tough in 2007 when both Josie and Norman were in school and working full time (Norman was working multiple jobs).   Petrolina (Josie’s mom) offered to have Victor and Vanessa live with her in Malawi while they attended school.  They agreed, but after a year, Josie and Norman were so sad, Josie returned to Malawi to bring them home.  It was her first visit back.

Josie's mom Petrolina with Vanessa and Victor when they lived in Malawi in 2007
Josie’s mom Petrolina with Vanessa and Victor when they lived in Malawi in 2007
Josie and her brother Edward during her 2008 visit
Josie and her brother Edward during her 2008 visit

While Josie was attending ITT, she worked at Wishard Hospital in the psych ward.  She said on the first day she wanted to run away.   “What am I doing here?” she said.  She knew once she graduated there was no way she could work in the psych ward but she stayed for 4 years until she completed her RN degree.  During this time, Norman became a Certified Nursing Assistant and attended school at the University of Indianapolis to finish his degree in accounting.  He couldn’t find a job in accounting after graduation so he went back to school and earned an RN degree from Ivy Tech Kokomo. Norman worked three jobs as a nurse — in Sheridan and two places in Carmel.  Josie worked at Allisonville Meadows nursing home then worked at St. Vincent’s Orthopedic and Spine hospital from 2012 – 2015.

Nurse Josie
Nurse Josie

In January 2016 Josie went back to school for her MSN (Advanced Nurse Practitioner) degree.  She is attending school full time and is also working for Community Health network three days a week as a resource nurse.  Norman started back to school in August to earn his Masters in Public Accounting (MPA) in accounting in the Kelley School of Business at IUPUI.  He no longer wants to be a nurse but continues to work two jobs as a nurse while he is finishing school.

Josie and Norman moved to Noblesville in 2013 looking for a better school district for the Vanessa and Victor and a lower crime rate.  They were told Noblesville was a racist community and all white.  They haven’t found that to be true.  In fact, Josie said they are comfortable and love it here.  They were so happy to join FPC when they moved to Noblesville.  Josie said, “Since the first day we have just loved being here. It’s a very friendly church and we feel welcomed here.  It’s family oriented and we never want to miss.  Vanessa and Victor begged to come even when I was working nights.”   The best part for Vanessa and Victor is the youth group.

Victor (14) and Vanessa (16) 2016
Victor (14) and Vanessa (16) 2016

Josie became a US citizen in 2009 after a 2-year citizenship process.  Norman has been a “resident” for 2 years and is working on his citizenship.Josie has returned to Malawi twice – in 2008 and then again in the summer of 2015 when they started the adoption process of her niece Chimwemwe.  Josie’s mom visited every two years from 1999 – 2011.  Norman hadn’t seen his family until he returned to Malawi in 2015.

Coming up — Part 3:  Reunion and New Blessings