Unlike many of our kids, Ramel grew up in what he describes as a “good home”. Both parents lived together, they went on family vacations, and he had anything he needed. As he grew older though, he learned that members of his family were involved in the drug trade. He was soon recruited and began selling drugs at age 16. Within a few years, he had spent a year locked up for stealing cars, had 2 children, was kicked out of 2 alternative schools, and was heavily involved in street life culture. He eventually learned that there was a “hit” ordered on him and he became scared to death. He found his way to Covenant House for safety, determined to change his life and make a better life for his children.
This choice was affirmed within 2 months of his arrival when he learned the person who’d put a hit out on him had in fact killed someone else. “That’s when I knew that I made the right decision to come here. I could have been the one that got shot”.
Serious about shedding the street thug persona, Ramel gave away all of his clothes, sneakers, and jewelry and opted instead for traditional Muslim garb of his religion. “I didn’t want to even look like I belonged on the streets. I wanted to leave that life behind. That wasn’t me anymore. I came to Covenant House with 8 bags and I left with 2”. Within a few months, Ramel had secured employment, gotten his GED, moved to our Rights of Passage Program, and eventually graduated to our SAP program (Scattered Apartments) which secured him an apartment in the city where he could also help raise his children.
Ramel says he refers other young people to Covenant House all the time. In his words, he knows how young people can often go “from homeless to reckless” living on the streets. He tells others, “It’s a good place but you have to stay focused. Covenant House saved my life”.
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