Home is Where the Love is

By Yohana Zecarias

As the first recipient of the East Durham Children's Initiative Scholarship, Stephanie Toomer is kind of a celebrity in her own right. She's a mother, a student, and a soon to be nurse. As a mother of five, she has managed her duties and her desires to pursue education by establishing an attitude of ambition in the Toomer household.

Her involvement and motivation is no more evident than in her daughter, Tachara Toomer, a second grader at Y.E. Smith. A natural entertainer, she plays the trumpet and violin, while maintaining excellent marks among her peers. But for Tachara, she has little option but to succeed due to the very support system that has been facilitated by her mother Stephanie. If her mother is in class or at church, there's a line up of cousins, aunts and grandmothers who are able to be by Tachara's side at any moment's notice.

Over the course of the semester, I have unknowingly become a part of this network that supports Tachara and her siblings. I was honored to spend time with their extended family at Stephanie's childhood home and to be so graciously accepted, even with a camera in hand. My goal was to give proof to their familial existence, to give a visual contradiction to the downtrodden narrative that is far too common of families in East Durham and beyond.