AKRON, Ohio (WOIO) - 19 News Anchor Neeha Curtis introduced us to a homeless high school senior trying to graduate while living in the woods.
The story shocked hundreds of people when they saw the image of Neeha standing outside of a brown tent in the woods, talking to a teenager in there trying to do her school work.
In a week, the outpouring of support flooded the newsroom.
The 18-year-old girl, who wanted to stay anonymous, sat down with 19 News for an exclusive interview to talk about the realities of homeless students.
She did not want to reveal her face and name, but she said she’s just one of many homeless students without a safe place.
She said, “most of them don’t end up in the camps or in the woods. They live in the parking lot in their car or couch surf from one friend’s house to another. Very, very rarely do they end in my situation.”
Her situation was living in a tent, in the woods, trying to survive, and graduate high school.
Despite the obstacles and hurdles, she graduated.
“I never thought that I would be in the predicament that I am in, I just had a graduate It was just something I do for myself,” she said.
Her life was not easy.
She said when she was just 3 years old she went into foster care, then was adopted at 5, given back to her biological parents at 15, and then thrown back into the system again at 15.
She went from foster home to foster home, the streets, the shelters, and finally ended up in the woods.
Through all of the turmoil, she was still trying to do her school work.
She said she would try to find wifi wherever she could and charge her laptop at the ER.
“I would take my Chromebook to the school provided up there and go on their Wi-Fi or go to the hospital in the ER room because they knew me,” she explained.
She would try to get as much done as possible so she didn’t have to come back several times during the week.
She was a high schooler living in a different world than her classmates.
She described her struggles with hunger and food- trying to find what she called scraps, “basically pick the hills back in the woods for whatever pieces of bread the raccoons or cats sit and get to, and have them to water bottles and whatnot and drink those [or] just pass out from dehydration.”
Feeling invisible most of the time was nothing to her, except now with hundreds of people reaching out to support her overnight.
Strangers welcomed her into their homes, letting her know they see her, and they care.
She said, “I’m glad for everyone’s support. It’s been helping to make a difference.”
She also said there’s hope and all of it happening so quickly.
She explained that the outpouring of love helps her when she’s sad realizing there are people out there who care and are trying to make a difference to help people like her.
She’s found housing and hope.
Click on the link below to take you inside her life, and learn what happens when a child falls through the cracks.