New Staff Profile: Ruth Aganya

Ruth’s life has taken her many places, but she has planted roots in Mankato, both literally and figuratively. After living in 3 countries, and being “from” South Sudan (a 4th country she’s never been to), she’s glad to have found home for herself and her 4 children.

Ruth’s family is from South Sudan, but war there forced them to flee to Ethiopia, where Ruth and her siblings grew up. When war broke out in Ethiopia, they then fled to Kenya, before coming to the United States as refugees when Ruth was in her 20s.

Ruth is a leader in the Anuak community in Mankato and she loves to support and help others. Several years ago, she and Mankato Refugee Services employee Nancy Altmann met and Ruth began interpreting for Tapestry class sessions. Nancy and Ruth formed a close friendship as they have continued to offer Tapestry classes together. With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, funders and service providers saw a clear need to reach refugee communities with accurate information about COVID-19 and support amidst the many ways in which it has disrupted daily life. This enabled us to bring Ruth on as a temporary staff person to assist with outreach to the South Sudanese community. As the first South Sudanese person doing this work in Southern Minnesota, Ruth is fielding calls from across the region with all sorts of questions!

During her free time, Ruth spends a lot of time with her children and tending to the literal roots and plants in her community garden plot. She grows foods from home and favorite staples like pumpkins.

When I asked Ruth if she had any closing thoughts or messages she wanted to share, her response was this: “I would like to share that Mankato is my home now. And thank you, MCC and Mankato community for giving me this opportunity to help me with my people.” Welcome to the team, Ruth!