Imani, age 16


"All my life I had to fight to make it but now I only fight to do the right thing.”

This is the very first journal entry that seventeen year old, Imani shared with her therapist.   “My mom was on drugs so bad that she couldn’t take care of me, so I lived in different places.  Sometimes I lived with relatives, sometimes I lived at a friend's house... 

Imani shared that "the hardest thing about living with other people is that you aren't their problem but you're there so they have to deal with you.  You never really feel like you belong anywhere.  You're just in everybody's way all of the time.  They don't want you...they're just stuck with you.  I felt like I had to apologize just for breathing.  My mom always came back after a few weeks though..." 

Until one day, she didn't come back.  "I waited so long.... and I couldn't do it any more...m y hurt turned to rage, ” as she recalls running away, engaging in illegal activities, all while fighting to survive in a world that she felt started a war with her first. 

I mani was brought to Children's Harbor at the age of 15,  when she was 5 months pregnant,  “I've never been so scared in my life."   Determined to make it on her own, Imani fought her way through her first few months at the Harbor.  

"It's not like they didn't try to help.  I couldn't feel anything but mad.  I felt like I was on fire.  When someone would try to help me that made me even MORE mad.  I didn't even know why I was mad.  I was just mad.  It took over everything, even when I didn't want it to.  I couldn't control it and everything I touched, everyone I talked to, ended up being burned too."  

Imani anger continued to worsen. She stayed in her room planning her next escape, refusing to participate in group activities or therapy.  She lashed out at the other girls in the home and her house parent, Ms. B.  "I kept waiting for them to give notice on me and send me somewhere else, but they never did.  Ms. B kept saying, '...That's ok, you're not here to meet my needs, but I'm going to do everything I can to meet yours. Let me know when you are ready to talk.  No matter what I did, they wouldn't change my placement and I wa s like, what the heck is wrong with these people?!?!?!"

Weeks turned to months and Imani slowly started to engage.  "Ms. B kept saying: Imani. You are so much more than you are allowing yourself to be".  Angry grunts became full sentences and eventually reciprocated conversations.  "No matter what I did, they never gave up.  This place is my home now and I feel loved here."  She participates in individual and group therapy and has learned that journaling comes naturally to her as a form of self-expression.  She gave birth to a beautiful baby boy(with Ms. B right there beside her, holding her hand) and is writing out her story, " so that Amir will know where he came from and what he will never have to overcome."  

It is only through the support of our harbor keepers that we are able to continue doing everything that we can to shine light into the lives of children who have been impacted by trauma.  Thank you for choosing to be part of our mission to "light tomorrow with today".