From Abandonment and Uncertainty to Love and Security, One Child Immigrant’s Impressive Journey!

blessing final photo

From Abandonment and Uncertainty to Love and Security, One Child Immigrant’s Impressive Journey!

Many of ILJ-MI’s client stories are saddening, but the stories about our underage clients are especially heartbreaking.  We share the accounts of their lives not only to describe the hardships that children who are refugees and asylum seekers endure, but to also emphasize their remarkable strength, resilience and tenacity in the face of such adversity.  

Blessing’s story begins when she was just 11 years-old in Nigeria. After her mother was diagnosed with an illness, she had to return to their home village. Unfortunately, Blessing’s mother left her on the street with no place to go. Blessing was later picked up by individuals she did not know who promised her a pathway to Europe where they would get her on her feet with employment.  She believed she could then send funds back to help her mother.  

Blessing was misled. The unknown individuals took her to Morocco instead of Europe and insisted she get on a boat to travel across the sea to Spain. Afraid and alone, Blessing said no.  She had heard that many boats that travel across the Mediterranean with refugees capsize and people drown. Because these were private individuals with no ties to any government entity, she recognized they were only out for monetary gain.  Exceptional judgment as such a tender age!  

Although Blessing was then offered the stability of a co-ed group home, she had to beg for money on the streets and was never able to send any to help her mother.  After six years in the group home, she finally got a breakthrough at age 17.  With help from the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, Blessing was taken to a different group home in August 2017.  She was then placed with a caring family in the United States the following February.   

This was the beginning of a fresh start for Blessing as her life took this turn for the better. She began high school in Traverse City under the care of her new family. In September of 2018, she welcomed a baby girl into the world and had the support of her new family every step of the way. “The family that I lived with have helped me take care of my child and have been very supportive of me.  She is now five years old!”  

Blessing’s story does not just end with stability, she is now excelling, “I am currently studying exercise science at Western Michigan University, and I will graduate in Spring 2025.”  

With the expert legal services and care provided by ILJ-MI Staff Attorney Mary Louise Boelcke, Blessing was able to gain citizenship under the Naturalization of Juvenile Refugee application. From start to finish, her case took about 10 months.   

While Blessing’s immigration story begins with abandonment and uncertainty, it ends with love and security from her new family.  She has a future with endless possibilities, thanks to her own persistence and hard work. 

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