The Book

Garbage Bag Suitcase is the true story of Shenandoah Chefalo’s wholly dysfunctional journey through a childhood with neglectful, drug-and alcohol addicted parents. She endured numerous moves in the middle of the night with just minutes to pack, multiple changes in schools, hunger, cruelty, and loneliness.

Garbage Bag Suitcase

Finally at the age of 13, Shen had had enough. After being abandoned by her mother, she asked to be put into foster care. Surely she would fare better at a stable home than living with her mother? It turns out that this was not the storybook ending she had hoped for. With foster parents more interested in the income received by housing a foster child, Shen was once again neglected emotionally. The money she earned working at the local grocery store was taken by her foster parents to “cover her expenses.” When a car accident lands her in the hospital with grave injuries and no one comes to visit her during her three week stay, she realizes she is truly all alone in the world.


Overcoming her many adversities, Shen became part of the 3% of all foster care children who get into college and graduate. She became a successful business woman, got married, and had a daughter. Despite her numerous achievements in life she still suffers from the long-term effects of neglect, and the coping skills that she adapted in her childhood are not always productive in her adult life. Garbage Bag Suitcase is not only the inspiring and hair-raising story of one woman’s journey to overcome her desolate childhood but it also presents grass-root solutions on how to revamp the broken foster care system.

More Than Just A Story. A Playbook for Action!

"This well-crafted and controlled personal narrative avoids the traps of sentimentality that are easy to fall into when exploring emotional territory." - Forward Reviews

"Shenandoah has shared her story not only to inspire others who have been through or find themselves in a similar experience- but she has the desire to create an open and honest discussion about what it's like to be a child in the foster care system." - Adoption & Foster Care Blog

"I was only supposed to read and review the first couple of chapters of Garbage Bag Suitcase. Once I began reading the book, I couldn’t put it down." - Donna McBroom: Theriot My Life. One Story at a Time.


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