A Bronx refugee who fled torture in his homeland proudly graduated Tuesday from a school that specializes in giving kids second chances.
“Today is a big day,” said Ayouba Doumbia, 19, smiling in his cap and gown.
He left the Ivory Coast in 2008 after escaping the military camp where he was tortured and his political prisoner father was killed.
“Everything was pretty hard for me. In a week, everything changed. I was scared,” he said. “My mom said, ‘We cannot stay in our house.'”
After months as refugees in neighboring Mali, his mom paid a smuggler to bring the boy to New York. Doumbia had just cleared customs at Kennedy Airport when the man stole everything from him.
The teen’s life changed after a cousin told him about Manhattan Comprehensive Night and Day High School, a city public school with flexible hours and special programs for kids like him.
The school’s basement nonprofit social services office helped Doumbia get asylum – providing him with a lawyer.
In an auditorium decorated with flags from dozens of countries, Doumbia became the first in his family to graduate high school. This fall, he’ll study computer engineering at New York City College of Technology.