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Story #62


Catherine, age 21, North Carolina

I have seen terrible things in my life. I grew up in Sierra Leone and I was three years old when the war began and my village was torn apart. I can’t even describe the horrible the violence and murder I saw committed by the rebels. If you saw the movie “Blood Diamonds” you have a small idea of what it was like for me as a child. Violence like that scars you forever. My father got us out of the country but my mother died of AIDS that she got from helping war victims so my father raised me. I was very close to my father and he loved me very much. Eventually we ended up in in the United States and he remarried. When I was 11, he got stomach cancer and died. After he died, my stepmother took everything away. We had no food, water and she took our inheritance. I had six families that wanted to adopt me but she wouldn’t let me go because she would lose the money. I loved and trusted her and she betrayed me. I was so lonely and I missed my dad.

I got pregnant at age 17 and my stepmother refused to help me. And I refused to live in a house with no heat in the winter. Not with my child. A social worker who had been visiting the house referred me to Florence Crittenton of North Carolina. I got into a mother-child program and I learned to bond with my child. I worked full-time, got my GED and now I am taking college courses. I hope to become a detective but first they tell me I have to become a police officer. That’s fine.

I am grateful to have lived at Florence Crittenton for two years. I learned how to live independently and now I have my own apartment and my own car. My son is four. We’re gonna make it.

I refused to be separated from my son—he’s the only family I have.