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Yasmine Can

Seeking a safe and better future, Yasmine,* a bright 17-year old girl, came to the United States as a refugee along with her mother. Yasmine soon started attending high school, when her mother noticed her daughter began suddenly struggling with behavioral and attendance issues after just a short time in their new home. The causes for Yasmine’s sudden changes weren’t immediately clear.

When Yasmine and her mother came to the United States, her father and siblings were not able to accompany them. To support the family, Yasmine’s mom works long hours, making it challenging to spend time with a teenage daughter and leaving less time at home to parent. Concerned with Yasmine’s behavioral situation, her mom spoke with her high school counselor to seek help.

Her mom was not initially warm to the idea of asking for or accepting help and preferred to handle Yasmine’s behavioral situations herself. However, she needed to do something to ensure that their new life in the United States was a successful one for her daughter. Thankfully the high school counselor referred her to Heartland Family Service’s Restoring HOPE, where she met with a Refugee Advocate and began to feel more at ease with the idea. The advocate showed her hope, with various ways Yasmine could turn these behaviors around. It was with this hope that Yasmine’s mom agreed to receive coaching and parenting tips via calls from the advocate.

Investigating the source of Yasmine’s current challenges, the Refugee Advocate learned from her mother that she previously had great attendance and schoolwork, until she recently began a relationship with a boy from her high school. It was then that she started skipping school and her grades dropped significantly.

The Refugee Advocate also spoke with Yasmine directly and continued to counsel her on the importance of education, reminding her that attendance was also key to her success in school. Positive reinforcement was used to assure Yasmine has a bright future ahead of her, and focusing on her education would be an important part of her success.

Over time, the Refugee Advocate and Yasmine’s mother saw gradual improvement in her schoolwork and attendance, even putting her on track to an early graduation. Although Yasmine was excited about the idea of graduating early, she decided she’d rather have the full graduation experience and attend the ceremony with her schoolmates and friends.

Yasmine had broken off the relationship with the boy that was distracting her from schoolwork, allowing her to focus on her studies and improve her attendance. When COVID-19 hit in the middle of the school year, Yasmine transitioned well to remote learning, keeping her grades up and continually improving, even earning a scholarship to a four-year college!

The Heartland Family Service Refugee Advocate continues to remain in contact with Yasmine and her mother, checking in to make sure they receive all the assistance they may need.

Yasmine’s mother came to the United States because she saw it as a land of opportunity for her family. By continuing with her education and support from Heartland Family Service’s Refugee Advocate, Yasmine has a bright future ahead of her, bringing them one step closer to fulfilling their dream, so Yasmine Can.

* To protect our client’s rights, the client has been de-identified in this story. The photo is not a picture of our client.

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While Heartland Family Service aims for this community of opportunity, using it to guide our plans and actions, we know that there will always be someone in need, and those needs are always evolving.

Our work, both on the individual and systemic level, is never done.

That’s why we are inviting our entire community to share this vision — because a world where everyone can needs everyone’s unflinching support. Our client base is not lacking. Our staff is skilled and ready. Now, you can help us expand possibilities.

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