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Lighting the Fire shares four Storycorps-style conversations between successful young people in Dayton and the people who guided them. In fall 2020, Learn to Earn in Dayton and Storycorps collaborated to produce these conversations over zoom during the pandemic.

Lighting the Fire: A bond between siblings knows no bounds

Aisha and Nico Ford

Aisha and Nico Ford had a rough time coming up. Without a lot of support from adults, they relied on each other and made it through, and along the way created a very tight family bond.

Aisha Ford: I want to talk about our transition from Cincinnati to Dayton, because during that time, we're going through a custody battle with our dad and mom because our mom was dealing with recovering from a drug addiction she had for the past few years. Well, we got to Dayton and we we lived in a rehabilitation center for women. Mom told us about how she felt insecure, she had low self-esteem, about how smart she was and Miss Carmen, the head of the center, every morning would bring her to her office and let her read to her. And that's how she got the confidence. And then she started going to school at Sinclair as well.

Nico Ford: Thanks. They was all here. Strong women. Oh, yeah. Definitely. Definitely helped Mom shape her character and become stronger.

Aisha Ford: Yeah.

Nico Ford: We all had take care of each other, all of the siblings. Our big sister, Nikki, T in our own way, we really had to take care of each other.

Aisha Ford: It was all living in a house. Well, our sister came from Cincinnati to watch over us when our mom disappeared, when she went back to doing drugs and it was like no one could know she was on drugs, neither. Because if they did, the rehabilitation center would take our house from us and we had nowhere to go.

Nico Ford: Probably, probably separate us.

Aisha Ford: And then our first school in Dayton was Tech High.

Nico Ford: Oh, my God. Was that even a school?

Aisha Ford: It was the first time I ever went to, like, an online school on location.

Nico Ford: Yeah, but they loved us. Yeah, because we were quiet!

Aisha Ford: Yeah. We never talked to anybody. It was the first year it opened, right?

Nico Ford: It's been open for a minute, since I've been going to Meadowdale. I hated that school. It really wasn't teaching students nothing. It was a lot of gang activity, fighting and stuff like that. Like, I secluded myself heavy in that school. I did not go to class. I think that's the first time when I really started being quiet.

Aisha Ford: But you had me!

Nico Ford: Facts! Having you along definitely helped me get better!

Aisha Ford: And then after Meadowdale, there was Patterson. I liked Patterson.

Nico Ford I liked Patterson too. Well, I like going to school with you, my sister. I was ready to go to school. We stayed together the whole time. You are smart.

Aisha Ford: You are too Nico. We did each other's homework.

Nico Ford: I didn't do no homework, I'm sorry!

Aisha Ford: Okay. Correction. I used to help you with your homework.

Nico Ford: Thank you! You used to wake me up early in the morning. Every day.

Aisha Ford: Oh, my God. You get so mad at me trying to wake you up.

Nico Ford: Up because you get in there too early! I'm like, 'Oh my God.'

Aisha Ford: I don't want to miss our bus.

Nico Ford: It was way much more harder to get to school when your parents aren't there or you ain't got bus fare or anything. Mostly when we're on a bus, we listen to our music.

Aisha Ford: Try to keep to yourself.

Nico Ford: Stay side by side like this, and just kept to ourselves. The bus was always weird, but it was just something you had to do...

Aisha Ford: After school - we're on our way home on a bus.

Nico Ford And these two students started fighting like and I'm on the side of this guy just holding him up while they're fighting like I'm like, 'Okay, man. And I'm like, are you guys finished?' Like, We went wouldn't have did all that if it wasn't for us sticking together, honestly, as a family, yo.

Aisha Ford: Because we were there for each other.

Nico Ford: Yeah, we was at the time. Yeah. We ain't want to be split up, man. Definitely. God got us, got this family through a lot of things. So thank God. Thank this family. Thank you, Aisha for getting me through all that bull crap.

Aisha Ford: You're welcome.

Nico Ford: Okay, no, for real, that was a deciding point. Oh, wow. I really want to do good - graduate.

Aisha Ford: So thank you. Like having my back and being there for me. You know, I remember I called you sometimes when I want to, like drop out of Wright State because I thought it wasn't for me. But you told me not to if I. So I thank you for kind of lifting me up.

Nico Ford: No problem. Always going to be like this.

Aisha Ford: Always.

Our series – called Lighting the Fire – is produced by David Seitz. These interviews were recorded on Zoom during the pandemic as a collaboration between Learn to Earn DaytonStrive Together, a Cincinnati non-profit and Story Corps.

Updated: June 8, 2022 at 3:35 PM EDT
Today Aisha is at the NYU film school, finishing her first film and Nico is pursuing his music career with his band in Florida.
David Seitz learned his basic audio writing skills in the third Community Voices class. Since then he has produced many stories on music, theater, dance, and visual art for Cultural Couch. He is deeply grateful that most of my stories bring out social justice issues in a variety of art forms, whether it be trans gender singing, the musical story of activist Bayard Rustin, or men performing Hamilton in prison.