Janna is a very talkative, energetic, and confident kid—imagine your typical eleven year old.

When I met Janna, she told me that she had recently joined the 100-mile club at her elementary school.

“But don’t worry,” she said. “We don’t run one hundred miles all at once. It takes lots of hard work and I just started, but by the end of the year, I’ll get it done.”

Then, in an instant, she went silent. Her mother’s sudden, softly spoken Arabic then filled the room as she explained Janna’s story.

Janna’s estranged father had entered the U.S. on a tourist visa from Egypt, bent on kidnapping Janna. He broke into the family’s home and attacked Janna’s mother, demanding Janna’s return to Egypt. His future plans for Janna included female genital mutilation (a practice still found in parts of Egypt). The whole incident was terrifying. Fortunately, Janna was in school when he showed up at their house.

Janna snapped back to the conversation, “I would not recognize him if I saw him. I only knew him when I was a baby in Egypt. I don’t understand why he thinks he needs to come get me all of a sudden.”

Fearing for Janna’s safety, Janna’s mother sought help. Ayuda provided legal services, which would later result in a protective order and full custody of Janna. With their case won, Janna’s mind moved on to ice cream—the perfect celebratory accompaniment.

Last February, I met with Janna to help with her final step to total liberation from her past: the green card application. She was happily anticipating the interview with the immigration officer.

“I can’t wait to tell them about all the clubs and school activities I’m in—especially the step team,” she gushed.

Janna’s mother began to cry. Janna seemed embarrassed.

“My mom wants me to tell you how happy and how thankful she is for Ayuda and all the work you have done to help us,” she said. She paused for a second.

“And I want to tell you that too.”

Here’s to a bright, happy future, Janna. Go get ’em!

Thank you, Janna, for allowing us to share your story. And a special thank you to Rebecca Walters, Ayuda volunteer, for putting Janna’s story into words. Janna’s story is a true Ayuda success story; however, names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.