“I hope to become a psychologist … like Ms. Angie,” were the words of Franklin Amaya who graduated on May 28th 2019. These words would not have ever come to bare if Franklin had not found La Clinica’s Mi Refugio program.
Franklin, an immigrant from El Salvador, arrived in the US when he was just 16 years old; he was accompanied by his 15 -year-old cousin. At that time, he did not speak a word of English and it was his first time outside of El Salvador.
He began school at Northwestern High school, in Hyattsville MD, soon after his arrival. A school with more than 2,500 students. It was difficult for him, to say the least, to adjust and navigate the school system and life in the US. About one year into his schooling, he found out about Mi Refugio and was warmly greeted by its staff, including, Ms. Angie. He was invited to join psychoeducational group activities where he met other students with similar stories. He received individual counseling and was provided tools to better communicate with his teachers and express areas where he was struggling in class.
He participated in the first cohort of students trained by La Clinica to be youth peer health promoters, and he took part in summer activities and La Clinica’s soccer program. Franklin ate up his time with Mi Refugio! Franklin marks it as an incredible experience where he learned many things that will help him in his own future while also allowing him to educate peers to lead healthier lifestyles.
In early May, Franklin joined Catalina Sol, La Clinica’s Executive Director, at the Prince George’s County Council meeting to testify on the importance of programs such as Mi Refugio, and to encourage support for such programs to continue.
When March 28th came around and Ms. Angie, La Clinica staff, Northwestern staff, and community friends celebrated Franklin and the 79 senior graduates who participated in Mi Refugio this past year, it was clear that their futures would be healthier and brighter. We too share in Franklin’s dream that he becomes a psychologist one day; he will be outstanding.