In 2013, Christine Titih moved into a house in Allison Hill with a group of fellow African immigrants.
The house was hardly livable, she said. The landlord even asked Titih if she was sure she wanted to move in there with her 4-year-old daughter. Hearing gunshots across the street wasn’t unusual.
“It really shouldn’t have been open for people to rent,” she said. “That experience really affected me.”
Titih felt called to fill this gap in services for immigrants and find a way to support others in the same situation. So, in 2019, she founded the Oaks of Central PA, an organization that advocates for and supports African immigrants in the area.
The organization assists people with utility and rent payments and has a program to provide supplies to new moms. Titih said that they also plan to increase outreach efforts, although the pandemic has made that difficult. However, they have been able to continue their assistance programs.
“It’s always a pleasure being able to help others,” Titih said. “I know a lot of African women that have been in shelters. In whatever way possible, I want to help others that are in a position like I was.”
Titih believes that her purpose is to use her story to help others. The Oaks of Central PA is one way she fulfills her mission, but it doesn’t stop there.
Holding onto Hope
When she was about 3 years old, Titih’s daughter Renee was diagnosed with a speech delay. Titih was a single mom, unsure of how to tackle this new obstacle, frustrated and lacking help.
It took five years of speech therapy before Renee was able to communicate at the appropriate level for her age.
“It was a challenging period for me as a single mom, having to go through that,” Titih said.
That experience played a role in her decision to step into the business of care.
In 2016, Titih founded CT Home Care Services to provide assistance to people with intellectual disabilities. The business operates a day program at their center just off of Allentown Boulevard. In non-pandemic times, staff at CT Home Care takes participants on trips to the library, bowling alley, mall and other places they may need to access.
“I really have a lot of respect for parents that have been able to support their children that have intellectual disabilities,” Titih said. “If I can do my part to help them, I really feel fulfilled.”
Titih is especially drawn to this idea of fulfillment and purpose, so much so, that she wrote a book about it.
“How I Discovered My Purpose: A Practical Guide to Faith and Finding Happiness in Uncertain Times,” Titih’s debut book, came out in November.
The book uses examples from her life, including stories from growing up in Cameroon, in central Africa, to the present. She offers advice on how to thrive even through hardship and how to find meaning in life.
“It’s a guide, but also an encouragement for anyone out there that is in a difficult situation and is asking themselves, ‘What am I doing with my life’ or ‘Does my life count?’”
“How I Discovered My Purpose” also heavily incorporates spirituality and faith, which Titih said is important, especially in these times.
It’s her faith that she has clung to while the pandemic forced CT Home Care to temporarily close multiple times and left the Oaks of Central PA unable to perform its most important task—connection.
“I try to look at it in a positive way,” she said. “During this time is when I’ve been able to write the book and do other things. In moments like this, it’s important to have the faith. Things will eventually work out for our good.”
Titih ends her book with a question for readers: Does purpose matter during a pandemic? Well, what if things were to end right now, she said. Would we be pleased with ourselves in the past year?
“That’s the real question, if at the end all of this I have to look back at my life,” she said. “What was it that I did? What was the role I played?”
Christine Titih’s book “How I Discovered My Purpose” is available for purchase online.
For more information on the Oaks of Central PA, visit www.facebook.com/oakscepa.
To learn more about CT Home Care Services, visit www.cthcservices.com.
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