When Fiori came from Eritrea less than two years ago she was timid with not a lot of interest in school. She had experienced trauma in her young life, and her mother and siblings didn't know if their father was still alive. This and many other life circumstances made her feel in her own words, like an "outcast." Fiori was referred to the IRCO mentoring program by staff who were working with the family.
As she started participating in program activities and meeting other students who encouraged her, Fiori started opening up. Fiori was hired as one of the youth who worked for the Graffiti project in the summer where she earned some money, all of which went to help pay the family's utility bills.
A few months after she'd been enrolled in the program, Fiori's mother invited the program staff to her house and to their surprise, she had prepared a meal and wanted to thank them for what they had done for her daughter. "I never thought I could have seen this kind of change. I thought life had completely stolen my daughter from me, but your program brought her back to me. Thank you," she said.
She cried as she said these words, which prompted staff to realize that while the program focus may be on making "great" achievements happen, just as important are smaller moments that lay the foundation of a child's new life. And in this sense, the program helped Fiori take the first step toward regaining self-esteem and self-worth.