A MBA Project instructor shared this story about Andre*, a MBA Project youth participant:
I met Andre the first time I facilitated a session for MBA. When asked, “what is a man?” he answered, “a man is someone who does whatever is necessary to take care of his family.” He wanted to leave the gang life, but got involved in crime to provide for his family. He described his older brothers getting together and saying “we have to do this crime or they’ll take us away from our mom,” or “we need to do this because it will pay for our younger sister’s medical treatment.” He wanted to be able to create a better life for his children. He talked about his love for his son, and how much he wants to be a father figure to him.
Andre told us he often meditated in his room. When his dad came to visit, he taught him to meditate. “We meditated together for a few moments and then for the first time in a long time he acted like a dad.” He said that this program gave him the tools to help reflect on his life, now he doesn’t lose his temper as often.
The MBA certificate of completion was his first graduation. Andre was never in school long enough to get a diploma because he was homeless and often in and out of group homes or juvenile hall. He felt like he was crying inside when he received his certificate. For him, it was a sign of better things to come. He said one of his dreams was to become like us, to come to the halls and share this work with other kids like him. He knew that because of his background, he would have a special ability to reach them.
At MBA, our philosophy isn’t to tell youth how to live, but to give them a space where they can reflect and review their lives. We don’t try to change the youth, we give the tools and the space to connect to their own wisdom. I saw Andre make this connection.
Together, we can help provide Andre and others like him the evidence-based mental health programs needed to heal from the inside out. Will you join us?
*name changed to protect identity