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Helping Martha Explore the World

Southwest Key Programs / Immigrant Stories  / Helping Martha Explore the World
Shopping in the supermarket

Martha arrived at Casa Kokopeli just two months before her 18th birthday. During the intake process, staff learned that Martha spoke an indigenous dialect. She had limited ability to communicate in Spanish or English and was provided a translator. After the first few days of her stay, she demonstrated some unusual behaviors that indicated she would need further clinical evaluation.

With these challenges presented, the Kokopeli team focused on how they could help Martha. She was diagnosed with an intellectual disability and a treatment plan was developed for her. As some time passed, clinicians attributed some of Martha’s behaviors to a lack of socialization and general anxiety about being in a new place. Clinician Ivon advocated for the minor to go on additional field trips. He said, “I needed to advocate for her to experience life outside the shelter, I knew this would help her with socialization.”

After receiving approval, Ivon took Martha to visit a park, a mall and a grocery store. He said, “I was able to see Martha grow and blossom.”

After socializing more and going on field trips, Martha began to trust her caretakers and was no longer afraid, “no tengo mas miedo,” she told them.

From this point on, she began making great progress behaviorally and began interacting with the other children.

With her 18th birthday approaching, her case manager and clinician needed to prepare Martha to be transferred back into border patrol custody as an adult or find a way to help her find an appropriate sponsor. Through a team effort, the case manager found a family member with whom to reunify Martha. She was reunified just three days before her 18th birthday with a relative who understood her indigenous culture, health needs and what caring for Martha would entail.