Mothers Who Inspire – Helene & Khadijah

When Art Is Therapy

Helene is an artist.  When armed with a pencil/pen and paper she can exhale. It’s been this way since she was a child.  Art is Helene’s release, and art would come to be the thing she clung to when her world turned upside down.

Born in Manchester, England, Helene moved back-and-forth between the UK, Denmark and the USA throughout her formative years, eventually settling in the States when she was just a teen.  She lived with her aunt and set course to earn a fine arts degree at a nearby college.  Barely a semester in, Helene discovered she was pregnant.  In an instant her carefree life and career dreams faded.  Chemicals from paint, and worries about supporting a baby, made it impossible for her to return to her fine arts degree, so Helene set course for survival.

She switched majors; confident that a Business Management degree would provide her and the baby with a steady income.  She secured a full-time job, and navigated her young pregnancy, scared and alone.

“I recall feeling empty and alone,” said Helene.  “My mother was in Wales, and I had no one to help me navigate pregnancy, finances, childbirth or parenting.”

Helene also remembers feeling stretched too thin.  “There was never any time for me.  I was doing everything I could to make ends meet but honestly had no idea how to go about it.  My only outlets were my artwork.”

Time passed and Helene gave birth to Khadijah, a healthy baby girl with dark brown eyes and lots of hair.  The two of them spent the first few years just learning how to do life together.  Helene became a self-taught mother, financial provider, cook and cleaner.  She sacrificed all she had to give Khadijah a safe and healthy home.  “I had no one to show me how to calm her or feed her.  I didn’t know steps for my own self-care, let alone her care,” said Helene.

While pursuing a business degree made sense, Helene never really took to the idea.  She was an artist and would always be an artist, so she eventually transferred to the graphic design department, and a year after the birth of her baby, began attending school at night.

When Helene heard about Ella’s House, she reached out, hoping she could be a mentor for a scared, young mother.  “Ella’s House would have helped me with the support and confidence I needed as a young, inexperienced mother.  I’d like the chance to help someone who shares my story.”

Helene’s advice:  Find support wherever you can.  Yes, it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to help a parent be successful.

For more information on Ella’s House or if you’d like to volunteer: please contact Emilie.