This blog discusses the importance of mentoring and an organization founded by Aya A. that addresses the lack of mentorships, social support, and networks for kids in foster care.
Mentoring For Kids, By Kids
Mentoring comes in many different forms and from many different people. It can come from family members, teachers, counselors, or even friends. It can be advice on something that may be troubling you or it could be someone who listens to you talk about whatever’s on your mind. This is something that is often taken for granted because we don’t tend to think of the possibility that one day, we may not have some of these people that are always there for us. However, for most kids in the foster care system, that is the reality. These kids generally don’t have anyone they can talk to, or anyone they can trust. Hearing about the experiences kids go through as a result of being exposed to the system is different from actually living through them, and the amount you can relate to someone in the system is very limited. Before entering the foster care system at the age of 14, I knew practically nothing about the lives of a child who lives through it every day, and the things they have to learn to do on their own due to their unfortunate circumstances. Therefore, when I entered the system, I knew that I had to do something. I have been very fortunate to have many supportive people remain in my life who are always prepared to help me out. Sadly, this isn’t common for most of the other kids. This led me to creating my nonprofit organization, Michigan Carriers of Hope. I founded it on the idea of creating a safe place for children in the foster care system to be able to connect and have others to relate to. Eventually, I turned it into a mentorship program. To be in this program, you either have to get invited to join, or request permission to join. You must currently be a child in the foster care system or have been at some point in your life. You will either get paired up with a mentor or a mentee after hearing about your background, to ensure that the best possible pairing get made. That way, you won’t have to feel alone and you’ll have someone to talk to that has been in your shoes at some point or another, and knows exactly what you’re going through, because living in the foster care system is not something you can go through alone. With the help of the others, it becomes much more manageable, and it gives you hope that things will get better.
Would you like to learn more about how to get involved? Visit Michigan Carriers of Hope!
A year and a half ago, I was living comfortably with my parents, older brother, and younger sister. I had everything I could have ever dreamed of wanting, and my life was fairly easy. Fast forward to the present: my mother is dead and I'm in a foster home. This is the story of the life of someone in foster care.
My name is Aya A. and I'm a 16 years old girl living in the state of Michigan. I'm a junior in high school, but often times, I feel like I'm 30 year old living in a teenager's body. I entered the foster care system in August of 2017 and in the past year and 9 months, I've experienced things I wish nobody else has to go through. When entering the system, you’re told by everybody that you’re in there for your safety, and that only what’s best for you is what will happen. I can say with complete confidence that that statement is an absolute lie, used to give children a false sense of hope and to cover up the truths that they will eventually come to discover. There are many reasons for someone entering the foster system. For me, I entered the system because, after the unexpected death of my mother, I wasn't willing to live with my father any longer. The first few days of being in the system were a whirlwind of emotions, with confusion and uncertainty being at the forefront. You're thrown into a new life with new people trying to decide what's best for you. Many people, including myself, often don't know who they can trust, which is understandable. Everything we once knew is no longer there and adjusting to our new lives is easier said than done. We try to make the most of things and see the bright side of the situation. This is often a huge challenge because we can't always see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, I've been fortunate to figure things out- figure the system out- fairly quickly. This is my light at the end of the tunnel. This is my story, and this is just the beginning.
Fostering Success Michigan is a program of Educate Tomorrow that aims to increase access and success in higher education and post-college careers for youth with experience in foster care. Learn how you can contribute to building a holistic network that insulates (i.e., strengthens protective factors and reduces risks) the education to career "pipeline."Make a Donation