When Lynika Cruz was 14 years old, her mother left her on the roadside and told her it was time she fended for herself. In her school backpack were a few dollars, a change of clothes, one book and a couple of pieces of fruit.
For the next 12 months Lynika lived on the streets, surviving on her own wits, eating old bread from the back of bakeries and sleeping in trees at night. She was desperate to avoid being discovered as homeless by welfare and put into the foster system. She feared that it would be a replica of the chaotic, violent experience of her own family.
On her fifteenth birthday, Lynika located her mother, who still did not want her back. Shortly after, she found a job. It enabled her to get off the streets and into a small, rented caravan. She then put herself through correspondence school while working, going on to later earn three university degrees and a Doctorate in Humanistic Science.
When I met Lynika, who was now a grown woman speaking around the world, I was struck by not only her poise, but by what a warm and self-assured woman she was for someone who had come through such a turbulent childhood. I asked her what had helped her to emerge through so much adversity, heartache, rejection and loss with such grace.
‘Seven words,' she said. ‘I am stronger than what I face.'
Those seven words hold power because ...