Abandoned Teen Plans Army Career

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Although he is only 19, Miguel Hernandez Ford has planned out his future.

In it, he has something he has never known: a real family.

Mr. Hernandez Ford’s mother abandoned Honduras for the United States when he was young, leaving him and his younger brother in the care of his grandparents. By the time he was 7, Mr. Hernandez Ford had to work operating furniture-building equipment instead of attending school.

He still bears the physical scars from those days.

As he talks about them, he fingers a spot on his hand where an accident left a wound requiring 25 stitches. “Sometimes they would hit me,” he said of his grandparents, attempting to shrug off the memories.

When Mr. Hernandez Ford turned 15, his mother, whom he had not seen in nearly a decade, sent for him.

Once again Mr. Hernandez Ford was forced to work, this time helping to support his mother and his four half brothers and sisters. After six months, he asked to be allowed to attend school. His mother denied his request and kicked him out of the house, he said.

Fortunately, Catholic Charities, in partnership with South Bronx United and the Medical-Legal Partnership Immigrant Youth Clinic, stepped in.  They found him a home and a caregiver.  Most importantly, they provided him with legal assistance to get a green card so that he can build a life for himself.

“First I want to get my G.E.D.,” Mr. Hernandez said, “then go to the Army.”

Read Miguel Hernandez’ full story in the New York Times

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