Mu’Stapha Feika describes himself as extremely introverted, but if you ask him about basketball his eyes light up and he talks about his dream of becoming a coach. The soft-spoken 20-year-old spent most of his childhood living in foster care and said he kept people at a distance. He disliked school and found solace in basketball, his favorite sport. Now, Mu’Stapha is entering a new phase in his life, having aged out of the foster care system. He lives at our Bluebonnet Studios community and is looking forward to his future.
“I want to grow out of this shell,” Mu’Stapha said. “I want to be more welcoming and involved with people.”
Mu’Stapha moved into Bluebonnet earlier this year. He is one of six residents who live with us through a partnership with fellow nonprofit Upbring. Upbring helps young adults aging out of the foster care system successfully transition to independent living and self-sufficiency through housing placements, case management, and college and career planning.
For Mu’Stapha, this support helped him secure a job and enroll in courses at Austin Community College, where he is majoring in kinesiology.
The journey to get to this point in his life has been hard and inconsistent. Although Mu’Stapha had positive experiences with some of his foster families, he never felt a real sense of belonging.
At the age of 8, he moved to the U.S. from Liberia with his aunt and two half-sisters in pursuit of a better life. He only vaguely remembers his parents and his home country. Once in the U.S., his aunt struggled to provide for him. Child Protective Services intervened and placed him in the foster care system, where he bounced around for years. In total, Mu’Stapha lived in three homeless shelters and four foster homes.
Growing up, he didn’t place much importance on school and struggled to fit in. His classmates teased him for his broken English and he intentionally kept his circle small by making few friends.
When he turned 18, Mu’Stapha moved out of his final foster home. Despite his difficult adolescence, he felt ready to be on his own. He saw opportunity when he moved into Bluebonnet.
“I feel really blessed,” Mu’Stapha said. “I plan to make something out of this.”
So far, Mu’Stapha has made quite the impression at Bluebonnet. He was awarded our first-ever “Good Neighbor” award for going out of his way to help his fellow residents. He has also started a Bible study in an effort to build community. He said his strong faith has helped give him purpose and direction in life.
Looking to the future, Mu’Stapha hopes to one day become a professional basketball coach and inspire and encourage people, like so many have done for him. He is already utilizing his newfound confidence to build lasting connections with the people around him.
“I see people and I try to relate to them,” Mu’Stapha said. “I would like to extend a helping hand.”