When George Nkrumah Meizah was growing up in Ghana, he would watch American movies and admiration what it would be like to alive in the United States.
“I consistently capital to appear here,” he said.
Mr. Meizah, 22, was aloft by his mother. Back he was 2, his ancestor confused to the United States and almost kept in touch. Within a few years, he remarried and started a additional ancestors in the Bronx.
Despite their artificial relationship, Mr. Meizah’s ancestor offered to advice his son immigrate to New York to accompany a bigger education. Back he was 17, Mr. Meizah bade his mother adieu and beyond the Atlantic to move in with his ancestor and stepmother.
Mr. Meizah was excited, but it took him time to adjust. He had assurance issues and did not accomplish accompany calmly in aerial school. “I abstraction bodies afore I admix with them,” he said.
At home, he slept in the active allowance of his father’s two-bedroom apartment. It was awkward, demography up amplitude and active with a ancestors that grew to accommodate two bisected ancestors and his stepmother’s babe from a antecedent marriage.
Within a few months of Mr. Meizah’s accession in the United States, his ancestor started tracking his buzz calls and argument messages, and forbade him to get in blow with his mother in Ghana, Mr. Meizah said. He resorted to borrowing money from his accompany and secretly affairs buzz cards to alarm her.
After about two years, Mr. Meizah opened up to his advice counselor, Cedric Hawkins. Mr. Meizah capital to run abroad from home. Together, they discussed his options, including adolescence shelters and added casework to advice accumulate him on a aisle against college.
Mr. Meizah ran abroad in 2016 while his ancestor was at a beautician shop. He went to a men’s apartment in Manhattan and again to a capricious active centermost abreast his academy that offered educational and abstruse counseling and workshops on activity skills, such as allotment and claimed hygiene. He lived there for best of his chief year. “I absolutely admired it,” he said.
Over time, Mr. Hawkins noticed a change in Mr. Meizah. “I anticipate that was the aboriginal time in his activity that he was a kid,” he said. “He aloof started to bloom as a being because he had confidence.”
Mr. Meizah didn’t let his troubles get in the way of his schoolwork: He was the valedictorian of his aerial academy chic back he accelerating in 2017. He additionally accustomed a scholarship and a aperture in summer academy basic classes from the Higher Apprenticeship Opportunity Program, which provides bookish abutment and banking abetment to disadvantaged students.
He becoming six academy credits afore he age-old out of the adolescence apartment and enrolled at St. Thomas Aquinas Academy in Sparkill, N.Y. Mr. Hawkins and his ancestors best Mr. Meizah up at the apartment and helped him move into his abode room.
“He took me in as one of his own,” Mr. Meizah said of Mr. Hawkins. “I acquainted like I was allotment of a absolute family, which I never absolutely had.”
He initially majored in medical technology but struggled to butt the actual and terminology. Instead, he absitively to abstraction art therapy, a anatomy of psychotherapy in which brainy bloom professionals use painting, cartoon and added forms of art to animate patients to analyze animosity that may be adamantine to accurate in words.
When he was in aerial school, an art abecedary had helped him acuminate his painting and cartoon skills. Mr. Meizah looked advanced to his acknowledgment and capital to become a bigger painter. He additionally begin that cloudburst his affections assimilate a bare canvas or a folio in a sketchbook was abatement and therapeutic.
Now a junior, he is additionally advancing a accessory in communications. In his green year, he abutting the track-and-field aggregation as a aerial jumper. His aerial amount — he is 6 anxiety 7 inches alpine — works to his advantage.
The scholarship from the Higher Apprenticeship Opportunity Program has been accoutrement his housing, meal plan, textbooks and a ample allocation of his tuition. It additionally accepted him a work-study job in the campus mailroom.
Before his apprentice year, Mr. Meizah accustomed addition scholarship from Children’s Aid, one of the seven organizations accurate by The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund. It has helped Mr. Meizah accept the actual charge costs. He now works a additional part-time job at a Stop & Boutique bazaar to pay off his apprentice accommodation debt, which is currently about $10,000.
In April, Children’s Aid acclimated $505 from the Neediest Cases Fund to pay Mr. Meizah’s buzz bill and to buy him allowance cards from Modell’s and Stop & Shop. He acclimated them to buy groceries, active shorts and T-shirts.
After he graduates, Mr. Meizah hopes to accompany a master’s amount in art therapy. His abiding goal, he said, is to advice accouchement and earlier patients who accept agony to accurate themselves through painting, abstraction or drawing.
Mr. Meizah does not blow about his artwork, but Mr. Hawkins said he has talent. Afterwards he showed Mr. Meizah a snapshot from a ancestors vacation, Mr. Meizah corrective it and gave it to him as a action of acknowledgment for his support.
When Mr. Meizah accelerating from aerial school, he presented his arch with a serene painting of mountains abaft a avalanche bottomward into a stream. It still hangs in her office.
His first, and favorite, painting is of himself: He is admiration in a anatomy of baptize beneath a starry sky as a woman pours aureate aqueous on his head. He corrective it afterwards he larboard his father’s home. Its theme, he said, is capitalism or freedom. It symbolizes the moment he accomplished he could accurate himself after fear.
“Now I feel better,” he said. “I feel free.”
Donations to The Neediest Cases Fund may be fabricated online, with a analysis or over the phone.
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