Elias, a 19-year-old from Tanzania, has lived through more than any young man should at his age. In 2011, Elias’ father was tragically killed by a close family friend. Elias was heartbroken. “My father and I were best friends,” Elias remembers. “I was so proud to have him in my life, he was my favorite person.”
Four years after enduring the loss of his father, Elias moved with his mother and siblings to Virginia as refugees and unfortunately, the effects of their loss followed them to the United States. Elias and his two younger siblings had to move in with their older sister after Elias’ mother began drinking in 2016, even though his sister’s place wasn’t big enough for all of the siblings. As the oldest son in his family, Elias felt a sense of responsibility to move out of his sister’s home to create more space for his siblings. With the help of his social worker, he applied for DePaul Community Resources’ Independent Living program when he turned 18, gaining both his own apartment, and the support he needed to transition into adulthood.
“I am thankful for all this program has done for me. You all are changing my life and I know my dad would be proud of me.” — Elias
Elias is proud of how far he has come since living independently, now balancing his school and homework schedule with learning skills like how to cook and budget. “If I feel hungry I can cook my own food,” Elias said. “I can go grocery shopping on my own now.” Elias, whose first language is Swahili, has vastly improved in English since moving to America. Before, he barely knew how to say “how are you”; now, he has advanced from his English as a Second Language classes to regular high school courses. He hopes to keep learning so he can help his mom and siblings have a better life, and plans to get his green card and become a police officer one day.
Elias’ story in his own words…
Click here to learn more about DePaul’s Independent Living Program.