25 Stories: From fearful to empowered


November 20, 2012



In 2007, 23-year-old Elizabeth learned she had contracted HIV from her boyfriend. Lost, frightened, and desperate, the mother of two had come to the U.S. from Zambia as a teenager but never received permanent residency. The father of her children was physically and emotionally abusive, but without legal citizenship, a job, family, or insurance, she was completely dependent on him. The once strong and outspoken young woman became fearful, obedient, and controlled. She was terrified of being deported back to Africa, where she would likely die and her children would be orphans. Confused, intimidated and more than a little fearful of the immigration process, she didn’t know where to turn.

Fortunately, The Damien Center’s Care Coordination program was there. Our staff empowered Elizabeth and her children to escape the tyranny of her boyfriend, obtain insurance and life-saving medication for her HIV and health care for her children, and apply for legal citizenship.

That frightened young mother is now a legal U.S. resident with two happy children who will never know how hard their mother has worked to provide a good life for them. Although hers has been a long journey littered with hardships, Elizabeth credits The Damien Center with giving her hope and confidence in herself. She now knows she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to.

Empowering our clients to live healthy, happy lives comes at a cost, and today, we need your financial support to continue offering the services that meet the needs of clients like Elizabeth. Help us make this vision real with a 25th anniversary gift today.