words by DENISE PINKNEY photography by LINDSAY KAYE PHOTOGRAPHY
W omen FIND A PLACE
home to c a l l
Everyone wants a place to call home.
And some women need a little help along their journey to find their home. Before Aliyah and her two sons came to the YWCA Cass Clay Emergency Shelter in Fargo, North Dakota, they knew hunger, fear and abuse. Aliyah’s husband controlled every aspect of their lives. She was forbidden to have a job or access money. Her husband even hid the children’s birth certificates and other legal documents. If Aliyah did anything to upset him, he would beat her, and to ensure control, he threatened to kill her if she left. After being badly beaten and injured by her husband in front of one of her sons, Aliyah summoned the courage to leave because she knew she needed to keep her children safe. After arriving at the shelter, Aliyah was paired with a YWCA advocate to rediscover her strengths and abilities and build a new life. Today, Aliyah lives in her own apartment with her sons and has a job. She and her children are safe. She believes in herself again and has found hope to rebuild and transform her life.
a r e a wom a n
YWCA’s mission is to eliminate racism and empower women. It has sheltered and provided opportunity for women since it was established in 1906 as a boarding house for women seeking higher education in Fargo and Moorhead. For the past 40 years, YWCA has provided safe shelter to women escaping abuse or homelessness, and today is the largest emergency shelter serving women and children in North Dakota and northwest Minnesota. Aliyah was one of the 1,400 individuals, including 783 children, who sought refuge there in 2017. Of those served, 77 percent were from Cass and Clay counties and 68 percent were women and children of color.
“I came here hurt, beaten, bruised and confused. I was dealing with so much physically and emotionally,” Aliyah says. “I had nothing. With the help of staff, I found myself again.”