Mimi, Residential Intern
The story of Mimi’s childhood is heartbreaking. As a nine-year-old she was sent to America from Haiti with her father. She was here to raise money for her family back home. What followed when she arrived, however, set a tone for her life that’s taken her years to overcome.
After arriving in Boston, Mimi’s father abandoned her, forcing her to live with her young cousins and work as their full-time maid. Though her cousins were barely older than she was, they already had kids and a home, so she was withheld from school to take care of the babies and clean the house. She was finally able to attend school after a neighbor called the authorities, but she returned home everyday to abuse.
As a way to escape the abuse, Mimi tried to join the Army, but was unable to do so because she wasn’t an official US citizen. She began the process of citizenship after graduation, but it’s taken years to get work permits. She’s still not a full citizen, though she is now a resident. She decided to continue with her education by going to college and working at Home Depot. She lived on her own until she met and moved in with the father of two of her boys.
Unfortunately, that situation only made things worse as she got involved with a domestic violence issue with him and was charged with several felony battery counts. She was unable to get work, had nowhere to live, and began sleeping in her car with her kids. She moved to Miami with a family member, but that situation soured quickly.
Mimi drove to Lakeland on a half tank of gas in pursuit of a shelter. She stayed at a local shelter for 8 months while she pursued her degree, but met a man who convinced her to move out of the shelter and move in with him. Though the relationship seemed positive at first, she eventually found out he was abusive to his kids – and still married. She moved out, but found herself being drawn back in after getting pregnant with his child.
Mimi gave birth to her third child, Hezekiah, but finally left his father soon after he began hitting her oldest son. He was arrested and she moved into a domestic violence shelter temporarily. While she was there, DCF took her children, and Mimi made the decision to finally make a life change.
She came to Lighthouse in June 2011 and regained custody of her children because the judge on her case was familiar with the ministry. She recommitted her life to Christ soon after joining the program, and she’s ready to move forward with fervor. She’s so thankful for the opportunity to live her, work, and have her kids back with her. “Lighthouse is a tough program, but it’s worth it. It’s just like the way God disciplines us – we don’t’ like it, but there’s going to be rewards.”
The family is now stronger than ever, and the kids absolutely love the kids programs here. Mimi completed the NOVA Adult Learning Program in August, and she loved being back in a classroom working on her memorization skills and math. She also loves working in our thrift stores. “I’m finding my calling. I love it. I love talking to the customers, fixing the clothes, putting things out, and displaying things for customers to purchase.”
We can’t wait to see what Mimi will do in the ministry. Her passion for the Lord and the ministry is a blessing, and we know that she will continue to excel here.