Stories of Real People

The struggles and needs of IFR's clients are at the center of our work. Their stories depict their resilience and IFR's contribution to their health and well-being. While we have changed the names to protect the privacy of our clients, we invite you to share their stories.

Tearing Down Barriers

As a case manager for La Cultura Cura, Oneida works with youth who are facing emotional, socioeconomic, and institutional challenges. Because many of La Cultura Cura’s clients are immigrants, the day-to-day struggles they and their families face seem to be unending. Jose is a 16-year old boy from Central America. Regularly confronted with numerous acts of violence in their country of origin, Jose and his family came to the United States to escape these conditions. As hard as Jose’s family has tried to escape the violence of their home town, remnants of this past continued to follow him. His family was poor and faced language and other cultural barriers. Employment and housing were extremely hard to obtain. Despite Jose’s desire to do well in school, he struggled. After being unfairly implicated in a fight and sent to Juvenile Hall, Jose came to Instituto.

Oneida met with Jose and his family several times a week for nearly a year. She explains, “It’s important to work with the whole family, not just the youth. The struggles they face in the outside world almost always have an impact on the home, and vice versa.” Before coming to Instituto, Jose was extremely introverted and rarely talked to others. When he first met Oneida, he felt uncomfortable talking about his situation. Caught between the fears of his past and the uncertainty of his future, Jose was reluctant to trust anyone. As time passed, Jose began to grow comfortable with her, recognizing her consistent dedication and interest to his well-being. Slowly, Jose’s self-confidence grew. He began making efforts to communicate more with others, and began developing friendships with others. Some of Jose’s new friends helped him with difficult classes, and when they couldn’t help, he found the confidence to ask his teachers for assistance. Over time, Oneida’s support helped Jose heal from the crippling wounds of his past. Today, he is becoming more independent and empowered, and can advocate for himself. Most importantly, Jose now knows he’s not alone; he is able to seek help when he needs it and knows where to get it. As Oneida notes, “Sometimes the greatest gift we can give youth is to help them tear down barriers that disempower them.”

– Oneida Romero La Cultura Cura

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