By Jaime Abdu Na Man Sa
I was born in Africa in a country called Guinea-Bissau. When I was 5 years old, my father came to America in search of a destiny: to guarantee a good future for our family; me, my mother and my siblings. Since my father was in America, I grew up with my mother and my sisters. Despite being far away, our father took care of us, even if it was in an indirect way, because he has always done what is necessary for us as a family.
As many people know, the life of an immigrant is about opportunity. You have to strive, because even if it is in your country, if you don’t work hard, you will never overcome difficulties. For us, having my father away was difficult. Sometimes he’d have to call us less, but no matter what, he always did his duty as a father. People would talk about our situation and him being away, but it didn’t make sense. I always thought, “Continue as you are. Each thing has its time and everything happens for a reason.” To live without your father by your side can be complicated in Africa, especially in Guinea-Bissau. Despite the difficulties, thanks to my mother, I was able to make it through everything without getting involved in dangerous or unhealthy vices.
Regardless of what other people say about growing up without your father present as a teenager, sometimes you need your father by your side to teach you how to cope with the world. He always made it possible for me to know how to differentiate between evil and good, and to believe that everything would go well one day.
Eventually, my father would talk to me on the cell phone all the time, giving me practical advice, which I tried my best to apply in my life. Thanks to this advice and everything I’ve been through, I can say that now, I am the Jaime I always wished to be. Most of the credit for this is due to my mother, because I watched her work for me and my sisters, and tried to listen to everything she taught me. Even when I didn’t know back then, I eventually realized that what she told us means 100%, even when it only seemed like 40% at the time.
Knowing this now, and living in America now, I know that things that happened in the past are just the past, and I don’t judge. This helps make me stronger every day, to keep my head up, to face the world, and work towards my dreams.
My mother always taught me to make the right choice for the right thing and I’m proud of it; I will always be the Jaime she created. My mother passed away on March 19th, 2014. I miss her every day. I understand why she’s gone—it’s the nature of life. That’s why I’ll take this hurt to have lost my mother and use her memory to be strong.
Today I’m in the United States next to my father, living the dream we had dreamed
for years. We are in America to live better. I’ve always been interested in technology, and I want to be a computer engineer. Now that I’m here, with more opportunity to evolve, entering Arundel High School feels like a great chance. I see the way teaching is done here and it makes me want to try harder to be what I want to be and that I have always dreamed.
This is my story. I just want to say that every beginning has its end. If you lose today, prepare to win tomorrow and always learn from your mistakes.