Haunted by drug addiction from a very young age, and facing the prospect of a life in institutions without seeing his young son grow up, Mohammed decided to change his life. With assistance from House of Grace, his story shows how it’s possible to bring yourself (and others) to a much better place in life, simply by committing to important changes.
“By the age of 12, I found myself in juvenile detention,” Mohammed recalls. “It all started with friends in the neighborhood. We would just pass our time smoking marijuana.” From there it was a slippery slope. For the next 18 years of his life, Mohammed would never be out of juvenile detention or prison for longer than an Eid holiday (1-2 weeks at most).
Detention and prison only made his drug addiction worse. To many outsiders, it looked like Mohammed was destined for a life of addiction and detention. To make matters worse, it was clear that he was unable to provide the necessary level of care for his son, Omar, conceived during one of his rare spells out of prison. Addiction, detention, and debts meant that being a good father was merely a distant dream.
Consequently, Omar was raised in foster care for most of his childhood. It wasn’t that his real father didn’t care; it was that he kept falling back into his old ways, preventing him from providing even the basic care that a growing boy needs. Despite being raised by good foster parents who provided a comfortable upbringing, Omar still looked to his father as a role model. Unfortunately, he started developing some of the same negative character traits that had led his father down the wrong path. Blood still ran thick between Omar and his real father.
Was Omar heading for the same sorry destiny?
We’ve all seen sad endings to these stories. But, haunted by the prospect of never seeing his son grow to be a man, Mohammed decided to reform his ways.
This time he was serious: at the age of 30, and slated for early release from a 10-year sentence, he made a commitment to quit the drugs, pay off his debts, and start providing Omar the guidance he needed to become a good man. This led him, via his social worker, to the House of Grace. Here he could seek the counseling he would need to make these changes and to get back in contact with his son. Almost a year later, at an emotional first meeting with Omar since he had been in foster care, Mohammed saw how his son was showing many of the traits that had led him down his own rocky path. From that moment, he pledged to save Omar from this destiny, strengthening his resolve to his commitment to stay off the drugs and become a role model for his son.
With counseling from the House of Grace, Mohammed discovered ways to repair the relationship with his son and to provide the guidance that had been lacking for virtually all of his life. Slowly, Omar’s ‘gangster’ traits were replaced with a stronger commitment to education, sobriety, and more healthy pursuits; no more drinking alcohol or skipping school.
Mohammed is now 33 years old and Omar 16. We are delighted to be able to report that not one, but two lives, are back on track. With our counseling and advice, and Mohammed’s commitment to change, both father and son are almost unrecognizable from the people they were a year or two ago. For the first time, they are living under the same roof in relative harmony together and the future looks bright for them both. Mohammed has a steady income and Omar now has the father figure he was always lacking.
“Now I’m clean and taking care of my son”, said Mohammed, smiling proudly with the trace of a tear in his eye.