Elijah Dreams Of Being An Artist After Spending Childhood In Abusive Foster Care Homes

When I was born my Mom put me up for adoption.  She either realized she could not take care of me or she chose not to take care of me. 

Two years later, my case manager didn’t think the family I was living with was suitable to live with so my Mom took me back. 

My Mom saw me like she saw my Dad.  She really didn’t like my Dad, so she really didn’t like me.  She called me, in her words, the devil child.  I have five siblings and I was the middle one. 

She would kick me out and I would either sleep on the porch or go down to the Happy Market in Glendale and go to the store and steal food.  I was like four or five and I would take chocolate from the store and go to a neighbor’s house. 

It was a traditional Muslim community – I am a Christian now – but my Mom would kick me out and I would have to go live with neighbors across the street or if they couldn’t keep me, I’d have to find a place to stay.

I don’t know how it was for others, but for me, at four years old, it was kind of like independent living at a young age. 

I had to feed myself and find ways of finding a place to sleep; either sleeping on the streets or outside my house or sleeping with a neighborhood member.   

At four or five is when the abuse started happening, regardless if I had an absolutely good day or if I had a bad day. 

Of course, you want to have discipline for a child but it was abuse that was going on.  

My teacher saw it, my friends saw it, and my case manager saw it but chose not to do anything about it, so it got worse. 

When I was between six and seven, I was spending a night at a shelter, not really a shelter, but at a friend of my family’s house. 

They had two sons, two daughters, a husband and a wife.  One night I went upstairs to use the restroom and that’s when the molestation started. 

It was a consistent pattern and I kept telling my Mom this was happening and it was embarrassing. 

She didn’t pay attention to it.  She didn’t really want to acknowledge it was happening. 

When they finally figured out what was going on, they sent me to Wickenburg.  That’s when I was permanently taken away from my Mom. 

I was in about forty-two different homes in different states which includes not only group homes, and shelters, but foster homes.

Now I am in high school, trying to graduate.

In January, Elijah became part of the Phoenix Dream Center’s program for youth who have aged-out of the Foster Care System.

This is his Dream.

My dream is to open up a non-profit to give an opportunity to people who have had it worse than I have to experience a better life. 

Everyone deserves a chance.

Everybody’s had it worse than I have. 

There are a lot of stories out there that need to be known and told. 

I want to first become a lawyer with a degree in criminal justice and then after I finish college, I want to open up a non-profit the size of GCU or bigger. 

I would like it to be a retreat, a haven where people can come from being homeless or abused – kind of like the Dream Center – so they can come there and feel like they have so many opportunities, change things in their life, and become different.

Music is like an escape.  When I play my piano, I feel like everything stops; like I am in my own little world.

When I play the piano its like I’m in my own little dimension. I can express my feeling and express the way I feel at that moment through the piano. 

It is hard to express emotions and feelings so I do it through the music.