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Dyani's Heart Shines For All

June 5, 2011

By W. James Edminson

Seventeen-year-old Dyani has attended three different high schools her senior year. But with all the change, she never lost sight of her goal to graduate.

“It means a lot to graduate,” Dyani asserts. “No one in my family has done that – some have gotten their GED, but most have dropped out.”

Dyani grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Her mother was unable to care for her and her sisters. For many years, she lived in foster homes.

When Dyani was 12 years old, she moved to North Carolina to live with her aunt. Her aunt provided new stability and times were good. . .for a while.

“The older I got the more angry I became,” Dyani says. “I hated the world. I was rebellious. I wanted to do what I wanted. I would sneak out, and I began doing things I wasn’t supposed to do.”

Her anger was rooted in her feelings for her mother. She was confused, and she questioned why her mother could not care for her. She was heading down a wrong path and needed help.

“I wanted my mom,” she says, “but it wasn’t an excuse for my behavior.”

She remembers times she would rather forget, but for the most part feels “blessed.” Dyani’s positive outlook shapes her life today.

“What happened in my past has nothing to do with my future,” she says.

Dyani first lived at Odum Home in Pembroke. As much as everyone tried, it was less than a perfect match. Two months ago, she moved to Mills Home in Thomasville.

“Living at Mills Home has been good for me,” she says. “I’m motivated here. I’m living at Huffman Cottage, and I’m a part of TLP (transitional living program).”

Baptist Children’s Homes’ Transitional Living Program offers students an opportunity to prepare for independent living. Part of the preparation is to work and manage personal finance.

“I’m a shake girl,” she laughs. Dyani works at a local burger restaurant. “Getting a job and earning money is a good step. TLP helps you to learn to do things on your own. But you are not alone. There are people guiding you every step of the way.”

She sees her time at Mills Home as an opportunity to become somebody. Dyani plans on attending the local community college. She hopes to transfer in two years to a four year school to become a teacher.

“I want to be there for other people,” she says. “I’ve always had a good heart, but no one saw it.” That is changing now.

“After I moved to North Carolina, I became involved at my church,” Dyani affirms. She shares what she has learned with the girls at Mills Home.

Part of Dyani’s joy for life is expressed through Praise Dance. Praise Dance is an expression of prayer or worship through body movement.

“It’s a great activity,” she says. “We grow closer and come together. No one sits on the side. I try to get the girls to think about the Lord. We focus on Him and what He has done for us.”

It has been said that whatever doesn’t destroy a person makes that person stronger. In Dyani’s case, that is truer than ever.