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Boys Town New York Helps Immigrant Family Overcome Obstacles

When Boys Town agrees to work ​with a family, it’s understood that they may be under a great deal of personal stress. They may even be facing issues that most of us can hardly imagine. That was the case with the Sonogo family, who had immigrated from the Ivory Coast of Africa to New York with four children under the age of 16. Soon after, Awa Sonogo became pregnant with their fifth.

The pressures of finding your way in a new country with limited means are stressful enough on their own. In addition, the Sonogos were dealing with the fact that their oldest son Abdulaye had become involved with dangerous gang violence. At just 15, he seemed to be heading down a dark path. Awa was terrified.

Struggling to meet the challenges of the situation, Awa’s relationship with her other children had begun to suffer. She wanted to be a better role model for her family, and in order to do that, she needed to learn strategies for dealing with her difficult situation. Thankfully, Boys Town knew just what to do.

Kara-Beth Kimble, Care Coordinator Services Consultant, soon became intimately aware of the issues this family was facing. She was eager to help and says that Awa was eager to learn: “She was dealing with a lot, but she was very open, very active.”

Kara started by helping Awa set appropriate boundaries and use consequences in a positive way with her children. She then worked with the family to brainstorm solutions for Abdulaye’s behavior. Together, they made the difficult decision to send Abdulaye back to Africa for the time being to live with Awa’s brother. “It was a last resort for her,” says Kara, “but it was a weight lifted.” Awa knew that her son would be able to live in a safer community with more adult supervision in their home country.

Abdulaye returned to Africa in July. Kara has spoken with him multiple times since then, and says he is doing well: “At first he was upset, but he understood after being there that this was the best thing for him. He’s taking it as a second chance. It’s a big deal for him.”

His family is doing what they can to help him from afar, and his goal is to show them in time that he has matured enough to return to the United States. For now, the family has seen improvements in the behavior of all of the children, and Awa has a much better handle on her stress. “She’s met all of her goals as of right now,” reports Kara proudly.

Families like the Sonogos are reminders that with perseverance and a helping hand, great obstacles can be overcome.

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