Toma migrated to the U.S. when he was just seven years old fleeing war in Baghdad, Iraq with his father, mother, brother and 13 other family members.
Toma saw his life in the United States as a new opportunity, but fitting in at school was a challenge, and he was often bullied for his size. A good friend of his introduced him to Boys to Men when he was 15-year-old. Toma recalls, “I was at a very vulnerable age where I was depressed and hurt.”
“When a good life friend told me about Boys to Men I thought it was just another group, but Boys to Men has given me an opportunity to plan out my life,” Toma added.
Now 17, Toma attends El Cajon Valley High School where he has mastered English and studies welding manufacturing. In reference to his future, Toma explains, “I now have a plan to make my dreams of building my own company come true.” Toma says his favorite thing about Boys to Men is “the fact that I can be me and that I can talk to people when I need someone there.”
Toma recently got to participate at an Adventure Mountain Weekend retreat as a Journeyman lead. Toma defines a Journeyman as a boy that is on the road to becoming a man. When asked what the best part about his leadership role was, he said, “My favorite part was that I got to learn and cook with people that love and care for me.”
Jose Garcia, BTM Youth Coordinator, says Toma has quickly become a leader amongst the older boys. He explained, “Toma expressed his desire to take a leadership position during one of our camping trips and did a great job handling fast-paced decision making and coordination of fellow group members all while being respectful and professional.”
“Toma is an outstanding young man and has a powerful voice.”
“I believe he is on the right track to achieve his goal and become a great man and father,” Garcia concluded.