When Tiruwerk was eleven years old, her father was mysteriously imprisoned. Unable to care for her six children on her own, Tiruwerk’s mother decided to sell all their belongings and move the family to a refugee camp in Sudan.
Tiruwerk and her family waited three years for the paperwork and background checks to be completed before they could move to the United States. She had never heard of Chicago or set foot in a plane. All things were new and shiny and Tiruwerk's family were ready to start their new life.
Tiruwerk was born in Umrakuba, Sudan. She was the youngest girl in her family, with one older sister and four older brothers. She remained the youngest until her brother Tedros was born four years later.
Without any explanation, the police imprisoned Tiruwer's father for two years. Tiruwerk's mother was left with no choice but to sell their belongings and seek shelter at a refugee camp in Al Khurtum, Sudan. Refugees wait years before they are moved out of camps while they undergo multiple background checks and interviews.
Tiruwerk, her parents and four of her siblings finally arrived in Chicago. The family was unable to bring any of their belongings along, arriving with just some clothes and a couple of their most priced possessions. Despite that, Tiruwerk remembers setting foot in a brand new country full of joy and hope for the future.
Tiruwerk started attending GirlForward's programs and events. Her older sister Zamenei is a GirlForward alumna currently attending college. Zamenei hopes to become a nurse to help give back to her community.
Tiruwerk graduated 8th grade with perfect attendance. Although starting school in a new country was difficult, Tiruwerk worked hard at learning English. Her favorite subject is Math.
Mentorship is a key aspect of GirlForward. Tiruwerk's mentor, Natalie, is an important part of her life. Mentors serve as role models and provide vital moral support for the girls, helping them with everything from homework to completing college applications.
Tiruwerk started high school and began making a lot of new friends. After running track & field for a year, she was awarded Most Valuable Player of her team.
In conflict, girls are especially vulnerable to violence, isolation, and being kept out of school. Girls who receive resettlement in the United States face huge challenges: poverty, language barrier, limited or disrupted education, isolation, and trauma.
The GirlForward Mentoring Program pairs girls with mentors to engage in "4W" activities (Wellness, Wisdom, Wallet and World) in order to explore their passions and graduate from high school.
Through events and programs held at GirlForward headquarters, girls get make friends with one another, forming an important moral support system
Camp GirlForward provides a space for girls to simultaneously build their English skills while exploring their identities and learning about the world around them.
The GirlForward staff is committed to helping these girls succeed. Their support allows girls and their families to have an easier transition into life in a whole new country.