Youth Stories

Yassmina’s Story: My Road from Tangier

“I was born in Tangier, Morocco in 1998 in the northern tip of Africa across of Spain. I have unfailingly always wanted to learn and have the privilege to go to school. This singular desire came with much adversity; I left my family at age 12, traveled over 5,000 miles to an unknown land, experienced abuse and trauma, placed in foster care and did not speak the first year after arriving in America. Life was challenging for me without a way to communicate, but I knew I would learn. I was afraid but I was also resilient, capable and determined. My biggest fear was that I would been seen as unintelligent – after all, I never attended school before arriving in America. Each morning when I would wake up my sister insisted I learn the new words; how to spell them, how to pronounce them. I would take a picture in my mind of how the word looked to me. Sad was brown and I knew sadness quite well now – it was the color of my tired eyes and kinky hair. My heart ached for my mother, father and my other siblings. Other kids at my middle school thought […]

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John’s Story: My Road to Self Discovery

“They took me away from my mom assuming the State would do a better job of raising me. I still remember the hot pain from the burns on by body from my mom leaving me in the sun on the beach when I was just 16 months old. Maybe she thought I needed the vitamin D, maybe she thought it would feel good to feel the sun’s rays on my skin. But the truth is, I think she was too high to remember she had left me there. At 16 months, I entered the child welfare system –  my life of neglect, abuse and loneliness was just beginning. When I entered foster care, my life was torn apart and kept becoming more unpredictable and unstable with each new placement. I moved from placement to placement; love and friendship was not ingrained in my early development. I am a very social person by nature and wanted to make friends, but my diagnosis was truly situational and eventually I owned the story I was being told was my mental health label and told everyone I met, ‘I have R.A.D. (Reactive Attachment Disorder)’ – It all sounded pretty cool.  It meant I couldn’t […]

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