Samantha is a 19 year old female from Djibouti, Africa. She was born HIV positive as a result of her mom being a carrier of the AIDS virus. Her father is originally from Djibouti, but has been living here in Bethesda, Md for several years. Although he was married to a woman here in Maryland, he also had a relationship in Djibouti with another woman. She birthed Samantha back in 1999. Shortly after Samantha turned 16 her mother passed away from the AIDS virus and Samantha was sent here to America to live with her father at 16 years old.
After two years of abuse and family conflict at her father’s house, Samantha was thrown out of the house with nowhere to go. She came to Promise Place with nothing but the clothes on her back and a few things in a small shopping bag. She was in the 10th grade. She was behind in school two years mostly because of the language barrier and cultural differences she was having trouble working through. She was referred to Promise Place by the County Crisis Hotline.
Since she has been here at Promise Place we have been able to get Samantha medical insurance, a state ID, a social security card, a copy of her birth record, food stamps, a free cell phone, clothing, a comprehensive medical health evaluation that screened her closely for her HIV illness to ensure proper medications were prescribed, and a mental health therapist to help with some of the alarming emotional and behavioral symptoms she presented upon arrival to PP. We also were able to set up daily high school transportation to and from school and our facility. We elicited funding for her to complete two needed courses in summer school allowing her to move forward into the 11th grade at the beginning of this school year, when otherwise she would have had to repeat the 10th grade. Samantha has also been introduced to new things that she has never experienced before.
As a resident in the SBY program she has been to professional football, basketball, and baseball games. She has been to museums and plays where she witnessed American fine arts and theatre for the first time. Lastly, we were able to give Samantha a great night out. She went to a play at the Kennedy Center and then to an Ethiopian restaurant for dinner where she was able to eat some food from her country and speak in her native language to the staff at the restaurant. Samantha is currently preparing for her SAT exams and aspires to go to college upon graduation. Although housing placement has been challenging to say the least, the good thing is while we kept her at our program extensively we were able to get a lot done for her and get her enmeshed with needed community-based resources.