Sandra was born in Nigeria and raised by her mom until she passed away when Sandra was seven. Then Sandra’s grandmother looked after her until she was 12-years old.
When most kids are getting ready for their final year of middle school and trying to figure out who they are in relation to their peers, Sandra moved across the Atlantic to live with her dad and step-mom — she found herself in a new country, culture, and family with no friends. Her father and step mom had two children together.
“My I felt like an outcast; I spent most of my days in my room crying,” says Sandra. “I tried to be a good daughter but whatever I did was never good enough.”
Sandra’s father would hit her and call her stupid, she said.
“I remember one day when my step-mom beat me up so bad that I ran away from home,” says Sandra. “I slept in a park that night, because I had nowhere else to go.”
Guidance counsellor intervenes to help Sandra
At school the next day, a teacher found Sandra crying and took her to see the guidance counsellor. Sandra, teary eyed, opened up to her counsellor about her abuse at home. Her counsellor suggest Sancta Maria House.
Sandra went for a tour, but was unsure about living in a group home. She gave it a try and found it hard at first.
“I hated strangers telling me what I could and could not do; I swore at staff, was rude to them, and would not complete my chores,” recounts Sandra. “Even though I was so disrespectful to the staff they were still kind to me.”
One day, Sandra got into trouble at school and was sent home for the day. When she got home, staff listened to her. They went to school with her the following day and supported her in talks with the Vice Principal.
“Since I came to Canada. it was the first time that an adult really listened to me, believed me, and took my side,” says Sandra.
Sandra reconnects with her family
After some time, Santa Maria House staff encouraged Sandra to call her dad. She was hestiant but missed her family.
“My dad was happy to hear from me and we both cried, says Sandra. “With help of the staff our relationship got better.”
Hey family visited her at Sancta Maria House and were happy that she was in a safe place.
After graduating from Sancta Maria House, Sandra rented affordable housing at Quinn House, while studying social science at York University.