One sunny afternoon in March, Marshell's little sister Poo Poo confirmed our suspicions. "Marshell is pregnant, I'm gonna be an Auntie!" she said, "and it's a girl!" It turns out the first part was true. Marshell was pregnant with a baby boy. At first, we were very worried and horrified by the news. Marshell and her family had recently become homeless again. What must we do to ensure that another little baby isn't born into homelessness and poverty? Where many other organizations might have shamed or shunned Marshell, we accepted her with open arms and took on the task of helping her raise a child. This was the first Cookie in our program to become pregnant, so it was a new experience for all of us, but together we were able to turn a trial into a blessing.
Marshell's mother suffers from mental and emotional health issues, which severely impact her ability to care for her children. Marshell stepped up to the task of raising and caring for her three younger sisters from a very young age, and sacrificed her childhood for the survival of the family. When she initially found out that she was pregnant, she felt ashamed, that she had let everyone down, and we would all be disappointed in her. However, when she finally got the courage to come to us, she felt our love and support and it propelled her forward. Marshell continued to go to school and work, maintained her grades, and continued to take care of her little siblings, despite the fact that she was six months pregnant and living in her car. As a strong independent young woman, the most difficult thing for Marshell to do is ask for help, and to recieve help when it's given. But with Khy'arie on the way, she came to us and did it anyway.
We raised money and supplies for Marshell and her baby boy on Facebook, and support poured in from all over the country. By the time the baby was born, Marshell was empowered by the outpoouring of love she and Khy'arie recieved. When she didn't have a bus pass or any money, she would walk for miles to school or to the county building, determined to do what she needed to do for Khy'arie. "I can't stop now," she would say, "I don't want the statistics to win."
Since Khy'arie was born in March, Marshell took her little sisters into custody and found an apartment in San Bernadino. She is currently interning to be a Certified Nursing Assistant. Khy'arie is growing fast, and he is a happy, intutitive little man! Mama Hill says she can tell he has an "old soul."
Some critics might claim that our support for Marshell is the equivalent to supporting promiscuity and unprotected sex. However, as Mama said to Marshell "Child, you didn't commit a murder. You're bringing a precious life into the world!" Instead of cloaking young women in shame for this act, we should cloak them with love and support. Only then can we raise their children up to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness that they are born into.
Khy'arie's name comes from a word that means "Unexpected Blessing from God", and that is indeed what he is.
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I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!