Thursday, October 27, 2011

Nigerian İmmigrant Wants To Give Hope To Children Laboring İn Hidden Jobs

Omolara Aribisala was 12 when her parents sent her from Nigeria to live with relatives in Maryland. An older cousin, with three young children and another on the way, needed help around the house. In exchange, Aribisala would be able to go to school in the United States.

And so the young African girl joined fifth grade at Beacon Heights Elementary School in Prince George’s County and became caregiver for a family of six. The next nine years were an exhausting regimen of cooking and cleaning under the supervision, she said, of a controlling and sometimes-disparaging female relative.

“I wouldn’t say I had a childhood or anything that resembles a childhood,” Aribisala recalled in an interview.

The older cousin declined to discuss Aribisala’s upbringing. “Whatever happens in the family, the family handles it,” the cousin said in an interview.

Aribisala ran away from her family’s Prince George’s home when she was 21. Today she is a 39-year-old single mother of two in Silver Spring. She is a PTA vice president at Brookhaven Elementary School and plays defensive end for the D.C. Divas, a professional women’s tackle football team.

She’s offering her story because she wants to help other young children laboring in hidden jobs with little hope. “I want them to know it can get better,” she said.


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