ISSUE 16 MAY 2000 BACK

voice of youth

My story

My name is Sarah and I am 19 years old. I would like someone to listen to my story.

I first went into care when I was 10. I was the eldest of eight children. My parents were both 19 when I was born, and thatís when the trouble started. My dad tried to drag us into his religion, which was different to my mumĖs. By the time I was 5, she still would not join. He started to throw her around, beat people up, drink, steal and stop others from seeing us. By the time I was 6, my mother had had enough. She tried to take me with her, but I was stuck with my dad. There were six of us by then. My mother soon came back with a social worker and tried to get custody. It went through the courts, but she wasnít allowed. My dad got us.

We moved when I was 8. My dad depended on me to be a mother and he soon raped me. His best mate and brothers did the same until I was 11 years old. Then we moved in with my dad's girlfriend and young daughter. Everything was great until I opened my mouth about my real mum. My dad and his girlfriend beat me black and blue. I couldnít walk, talk, sleep or sit down.

When I was 10, I had to move school and I hated it so much. I lost my best friend and my school friends. A few months later, I moved schools again. I went to the same school as my brothers and had to make sure they were home by 4 oĖclock. If not, I was sent to bed with nothing to eat or drink. I had to sleep on the top bunk and I hated it because Iím scared of heights.

I got sick and tired of being the one in trouble. I weighed so little and looked like a bag of bones. Everyone would ask about it. Once, when my dad was working, I made tea for everyone. I stole for it ďI didnít mean to, but I was starving. I was beaten so much that I nearly went to hospital. In the morning, everyone else went to school. A social worker and police woman came to take me away. It was my last day at junior school, when we were to have had a water fight and maypole dance. I missed it and, to this very day, I hate my dad because of it. That day, I had to go to hospital and different places Iíd never been to before. I was so scared. I went into foster care, but my dad managed to see me a little and eventually I went back home. By then, I was nearly 15.

I was soon back in care. I went into a children's home with 8 of my brothers, but my other brothers and sisters went to different places. I kind of loved it in the children's home. There was a TV, music box and pool room. I felt good and played with my brothers in a massive garden. We stayed together for three months.

Next, I had to move back to my foster parents and then on to a children's home for girls. I was there for over a year. I always did a runner, but never got caught. Sometimes, I would stay out. I wanted to live back with my family. Everyone had gone home except me.

I then decided that I wanted to see my mum and family. They came to see me and I found out that I had a sister. I met my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. They were so good to me, but my mother did not want me. Like my dad, she had not wanted me at birth.

I moved again, going to live with my grandparents for two years. When problems occurred, I moved back to foster parents. I hated it so much. I ran away, played up, went out, etc. I was so naughty that I was made to move. I spent some time living with other members of my family before deciding that I needed my independence.

I love these members of my family, and still see them. I sometimes stay over with them and we go places together. They are the best thing that happened to me. I make time to see them all, as well as my friends. My best friend, Sarah, has been excellent. Sheís such a good help to me.

I moved to a hostel when I was 17 and thatís where Iím living today. Over all those years, I moved 11 times. I went to many different schools, but still managed to go to college for 8 years. I am now on a training course and trying to make a career as a dancer.

From Who Cares? the UK's national magazine for young people in the care system. For information about this magazine contact Who Cares? Kemp House, 1520160 City Road, London EC1V 2NP

THE INTERNATIONAL CHILD AND YOUTH CARE NETWORK (CYC-Net)
Registered Non-Profit and Public Benefit Organisation in the Republic of South Africa (031-323-NPO, PBO 930015296)

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