It’s a challenge to step outside of your comfort zone – to leave everything you know behind. When Jebbeh was only 10 years old, she did just that. Spending her early childhood years in center-city Philadelphia with her mother and two older sisters, Jebbeh didn’t know a life outside of her crowded school and hectic home environment.
“My life before coming here was kind of hard,” Jebbeh recalled.
Little did she know the courageous and caring person she’d grow to be in just two years’ time. Jebbeh recently celebrated her 12th birthday at the children’s home with her friends and house parents piling around as she opened cards.
“My life has changed for the better by coming here,” she said.
The biggest change she’s seen in herself is her ability to challenge herself with her school work. Now that Jebbeh attends the local school district, which offers a smaller student-to-teacher ratio, her teachers work with children’s home staff to create class schedules and educational opportunities that challenge her.
“My school is harder now,” Jebbeh says. “They are more strict and give me more due dates. In Philly, you didn’t really get challenged. School was always easy for me.”
Because of donors, each child at the children’s home has the opportunity to partake in individualized study sessions with on-staff tutors. Jebbeh excels in math because she “likes to problem solve,” but for subjects like science, she appreciates the extra help from her tutors.
“They’re helpful when you’re struggling with something,” Jebbeh said. “They always try to find a way to help you, no matter what.”
Jebbeh also has another support system available to her at the children’s home – someone who means the world to her – her 15-year-old sister, Joy. Though they reside in different cottages, they are only one phone call or short walk away.
“I love my sister,” Jebbeh says. “I like that she always sticks up for me and is always helping me.”
The children’s home values the importance of keeping siblings together, and because of generous donors, is often able to provide them with a home at the same time.
Both Jebbeh and her sister have been involved in sports since coming to the children’s home, an opportunity which Jebbeh doesn’t take for granted.
“I was so excited to start gymnastics,” she recalled. “I used to watch it on the Olympics growing up. There weren’t any places where I could take gymnastics where I grew up, and my mom couldn’t take me.”
Jebbeh plans on using her aptitude, determination and interest in school to become a teacher or school counselor. Inspired by one of her cousins, Jebbeh has an interest in specifically working with children who are on the autism spectrum.
“She couldn’t get around really well,” Jebbeh recalled. “I always helped make her snacks and do other things for her.”
To anyone who knows Jebbeh, her future career choice is not a surprise. She’s always thinking of others. This year, Jebbeh was recognized at school for her great character. Her award states she always remembers to “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
Though she is young, Jebbeh’s vast life experiences have encouraged her to listen to other people’s ideas and feelings while trying to see things from different viewpoints.
“To everyone who allows us to be here, I want to say ‘Thank you,'” Jebbeh said. “You’re making my life better.”