Review by Krista, Isa's mom

My name is Krista, and I am the proud mother of Isa. I would like to share her life story and review our time at Yes We Can Clinics in this piece.

Early years

After Isa's birth, we faced numerous health challenges with her. As a little girl, she was frequently hospitalised. Isa has always been a feisty young lady, knowing exactly what she did and didn't want. Primary school was difficult for her. She felt lonely and was often bullied because she struggled to keep up. Children can be cruel to each other. If you're just a bit different, judgments come quickly. After primary school, she was able to start secondary education in a small building with extra support to help her adjust to this big step.


The first few months went quite well, and Isa made friends. She also came into contact with a boy. At first glance, he seemed nice and sweet, but that soon changed. Isa didn't want to do things that he did, which led to sexting. He made photos of her public. It quickly became known at many schools in our area, and her life turned into an absolute hell. Everyone had their say and called her all sorts of names. We entered into discussions with several parties and decided that after the summer holidays, she would move to a different school outside our municipality.

Even before that summer holiday, another issue arose. We discovered that Isa had been abused. Hearing that about your daughter feels like the ground beneath your feet has vanished. You feel so powerless as a parent that this could happen to your little girl; it's unfathomable. We immediately sought help for her to process this incredibly traumatic event at such a young age.

One step forward, two steps back

After the summer, she started at the new school, and I felt that she found her place. She made friends, something every parent only hopes for their daughter. However, after a while, we frequently received calls that she had panicked and run away. The discussions with the local care team were intensified. But then we were called early in the morning at the end of the second school year. Our daughter and her friend were found drunk at the school reception.

From that moment, I was at a loss. What was this? What should I do? I tried everything: pleading, lecturing, being strict, getting angry, cutting off contact, making contact. It left me feeling hopeless, desperate, and deeply sad. Such a sense of powerlessness! I was incredibly worried, and after a period of constant fights, she realised she could not continue down this road. This should never happen again.

Luckily, things steadily improved. She achieved good grades at school and seemed to be doing very well in our eyes. She always told us where she was, and she usually came straight home with her friend after school. She even consistently kept her appointments with the community team. We kept a tighter rein on her, thinking we could prevent any danger by gradually giving her more freedom again. Unfortunately, the opposite happened.

After her exams, it all fell apart. She had a 'bad trip' after using the wrong drugs. We discovered that the money we gave her hadn't been spent on clothes or fun activities with friends. No, she needed it for alcohol and drugs. As a parent, you wonder how you didn't notice. I was always on top of it, but it quickly became apparent that she had become a queen of lying, deceiving, and manipulating.

"Isa was truly at a point where she didn't want to live anymore."

Seeking help

Isa was indeed at a point where she didn't want to live anymore." As parents, we were at a loss. I told her I was desperate and searching for help for myself. Her response was, "What about me?" She was supposed to be getting help, and she often attended, right? But she admitted she had convinced the outpatient care that she was fine while she actually wasn't. Isa was indeed at a point where she didn't want to live anymore. She was so fed up that I started looking for help again.

In my search for help, I came into contact with Yes We Can Youth Clinics; that was a breath of fresh air. From the first phone call, I felt understood and listened to. My intuition immediately told me, "This is our solution." Shortly after registering, we had an intake interview with Isa. We were told she was accepted and would be admitted in 8 weeks. Eventually, a spot became available sooner, so she went to the clinic after two weeks.

Isa had not shown any emotions for a long time. She couldn't express herself anymore. It hit hard when she went to the clinic. We were sad, but she showed no emotion, no hug, not even a wave. The farewell was difficult. Up to that point, all our contacts with Yes We Can Clinics gave us a lot of confidence, but doubts crept in once Isa had left. Had I done the right thing? Was this the right decision and the right place?

The first five weeks crawled by and felt incredibly long. Then came 'bonding day'. We went to a cosy room in the clinics and sat down with other parents. The door opened, and there stood our daughter, beaming! I was over the moon to see her again. She looked healthy and happy. Her eyes sparkling again.

She had a tough time, but she was full of hope and determined to finish the programme. She opened up about everything that had been going on over the last few years, and I realised I only knew a fraction of the world she was in. It was a profound shock, and I knew she was in the right place and that the last weeks were also critical. In these last weeks, we had conversations over the phone with our daughter twice a week. I looked forward to these moments weekly, and my trust in the process grew.

Family counselling

The day she came back was beautiful. It was lovely to have her home again, but it was also scary and uncertain for all of us. What would happen in the time to come? How would she navigate through the world outside the clinic? Of course, during the parent sessions, we extensively discussed that the real challenge begins upon returning home, but somehow, it hadn't fully dawned on me what that meant until she returned. She worked hard on her recovery every day, bringing back a wealth of life experience from the clinic.

We also learned a lot during the family counselling sessions. Of course, communication still isn't optimal sometimes, but we now have the tools to deal with that. We are aware of our pitfalls and can discuss them. I am so proud of Isa! What she achieves every day, the battles she fights, and the choices she makes. After coming back, she also greatly benefited from the aftercare. She has developed so much that she now gives presentations at secondary schools and still tells her story with a lot of conviction.

Warm and safe

The most important thing we've experienced is that Yes We Can Clinics provides a warm and safe environment in every aspect and part of their organisation. Isa still misses the clinic regularly and the coaches who made her days there much more enjoyable. The journey with Yes We Can Clinics is the most beautiful but also the most challenging gift I could give our daughter. Because of it, we face the future with confidence every day.

Yes We Can!

Other stories

Fellows and their personal experience