While Bermuda might sound like paradise, for Alissa and her 5-year-old son Aamir, it was no holiday. Despite being one of the richest countries in the world, this series of islands is in the middle of an economic storm and embroiled in a complex political situation.
“I met a man who offered us the promise of a better life in America,” shares Alissa. She quickly discovered life wasn’t better. “He was abusive,” she recalls. “So instead of making plans with him, I started looking for a job.”
Her job search brought her to Nashville. “My visa was valid for six months, so I needed a sponsor to stay,” says Alissa. She got a job, but a misunderstanding about the cost of her sponsorship led the company to back out. “So we moved to Tennessee. I knew one person—my cousin. I had no job and no idea what to do.”
Over the next few months, Alissa’s life took several detours. “Looking back, I was naïve and vulnerable. I made the mistake of getting into a relationship that led to pregnancy.” Unable to find a job that would sponsor her, Alissa’s money ran out. “We survived through the kindness of strangers. The church we attended helped.”
Alissa was able to track down her godmother, who was living in Las Vegas. “I had not seen her in years. When she invited us to come and stay with her and her boyfriend through the holidays, I jumped at the chance.”
“My godmother’s boyfriend was verbally abusive to us. It was stressful. On top of that, we were passengers in a car accident, where I had to go to the hospital. I had no money, no job, no insurance and now medical bills. The stress was too much. So we left my godmother’s house and took refuge in a homeless shelter. We didn’t stay long. After only a few days, a severe bed bug infestation forced us to leave.”
As she was making plans to return to Tennessee, Alissa received a little money and sent half to her boyfriend and the father of her unborn child for an apartment deposit. Alissa and Aamir then boarded a bus bound for Nashville. “When we got off the bus, my boyfriend wasn’t there. He never showed up. He abandoned us.”
No one plans to become homeless. For Alissa, what started as a quest for a better life has taken her on a trip no one could plan for. With no one to turn to and nowhere to go, Alissa found herself standing at the door of Nashville Rescue Mission.
“I don’t know where I would have gone if Nashville Rescue Mission had not taken us in,” says Alissa. “I know it sounds crazy to leave Bermuda, but there was nothing there for us. It is a beautiful place, but on the brink of economic ruin. Being homeless here is better than the life we had there. I want to find a job, start over and build a life for my family. I’m thankful the Mission is here to help while I try to get on my feet.”
Alissa is getting the care she needs for herself and her unborn child. Despite the setbacks, Alissa is grateful. She never imagined she would be pregnant and homeless. But she’s not without hope. Through case management and the various programs and services offered through the Mission, Alissa has a chance to start over.