Imagine your daughter is 15 years old. In an old suitcase you pack a few granola bars, a map, and the little bit of cash you have in your wallet. You push her out the door and tell her she must make her way to America—thousands of miles away. She cries in fear but you know it is the only way to save her life. This is Zani’s story…
Zani was only 15 years old when she was smuggled out of her home country of Ethiopia. Her father was imprisoned for his religious beliefs. Her mother, fearing for Zani’s life, instructed her to flee and head towards the United States. Zani’s journey was long and difficult. She spent 118 days traveling on foot, plane, and bus to get across three continents and 13 countries. She was alone, had no possessions and little food.
Her journey brought her through Mexico and as soon as Zani crossed the border into Texas she was picked up by immigration police. After they became aware of her age and circumstance, she was transferred between states until she landed in Maryland. She was linked with LSS/NCA who helped her find a perfect new home with a loving foster family. They understood her journey and were in awe of the courage and determination that had brought her this far.
Since her arrival, Zani’s foster parents helped her enroll in ESL classes, find a church that reminded her of home, and cope with the loneliness of missing her family. Now, when Zani feels sad, she says that she reminds herself of the opportunity she has been given, the courage of her mother to help her leave, the new possibilities that lie ahead of her, and the hope that one day she will be able to see her family again.
LSS/NCA resettles over 400 refugees each year who have been persecuted for their faith, race, or gender. Over the next couple years, we aim to triple the number of unaccompanied refugees we are able to place with loving foster families. After facing war and threats of death, many children come to America alone and scared but eager to chase their childhood dreams. To be a part of this effort, please visit the LSS/NCA donate page.