“Growing up in an institution, I experienced both good and challenging moments,” recalls 28-year-old Musa. At 11 years old, he lost his biological parents and was taken to the institution where he received education for 17 years before transitioning into independent living. “We could only see our relatives once a year, and even then, we didn’t have much time. We were cut off from the outside world. I have come to the realisation that in order for us to prosper and feel content, a community is necessary,” Musa.
“The disconnect caused me to be estranged from my family. Even the counsellors they used to bring used not to understand because a parent’s or a relative’s affection can sometimes heal invisible wounds,” Musa.
Despite having his basic needs met, Musa struggled with being disconnected from his family and experienced depression. “We had all of our basic needs covered when we were at the institution, but you know, you can’t always ask for everything when you’re not with your parents,” Musa.
“A community is necessary for us to prosper and feel content,” he emphasises.
Through a mental health program by the Child’s i Foundation, Musa learned about self-identity and reducing triggers.
“I took part in a training where I learned about transition and how to take care of my mental health. I was able to identify my personality and reduce triggers thanks to a mental health program by Child’s i Foundation,” Musa.
“During the training sessions, we were told what to expect, how to act, interact with the community, and who to contact in case of problems,” Musa.
The Foundation also introduced a De-institutionalization program to Musa’s former institution, aiming to repurpose it as a community hub and reunify children and young adults with their families or support their transition into independent living.
With the support of the Child’s i Social Worker, Musa received assistance in starting a business with a partner he transitioned with. They established a service centre offering phone repair, graphic design, computer repair, and other services. Despite challenges during the pandemic, they have a supportive community that refers clients to them.
“In 2021, with the support of the Child’s i Social Worker, I received rent and capital to start up business after leaving the institution.”
Musa and other transitioned youth regularly meet to share knowledge and experiences, which has helped Musa stay positive. “We frequently offer information about how life is, and wisdom. And it makes you feel great because there are some problems that teamwork makes possible. If we run into problems, they come to share their knowledge and experiences,” Musa.
He has also reconnected with his relatives and cautions anyone supporting vulnerable children to keep them with their relatives or alternative families. “I recently reconnected with my uncle, aunt, paternal grandfather, and maternal grandmother. They welcomed me with enthusiasm and love. I feel I’m part of a family and I treasure that moment,” Musa.
With aspirations to work as a sonographer and start a tech-related business, get married, have children, and take care of them, Musa is filled with hope for his future.
“I have a lot of things to look forward to. I have to work as a sonographer and launch a tech-related business. I have to get married, have kids, and take care of them, maybe even improve things for them,” Musa.