from Jules - Wednesday, June 04, 2003
accessed 1956 times
As we all know too well, for we who were born and raised in a restrictive community, leaving our community of origin and starting over in society can be a difficult process. Basic life skills like finding a job, finding a place to live, and getting a high school education can seem overwhelming. Many of us have succeeded despite the odds, some people are still catching up, and others may be simply frustrated by the enormity of the challenges. Still others are still in the group and want a different lifestyle than that of a member of The Family, but don’t know where to start or how to begin to survive on the outside.
Outside of our own experiences with The Family, there are hundreds of thousands of children and youth raised in similar organizations and settings. From the limited research that has been done and from the contact I and others have had with these youth, it seems that the similarities between our experiences growing up and the challenges we face leaving are striking. I believe the need for support exists beyond our own demographic and is in fact much larger than anything any of us are currently aware of.
Over the past several months, some of the participants here have been working towards setting up a public foundation to provide support for young people leaving isolated communities. The people involved have worked very hard on this, and include Lauren, JohnnieWalker, Sharon, Nahchey, Ian and Andrew. I am very excited to announce that the foundation is now a reality. Safe Passage Foundation (SPF) was incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation in New York in April of this year. We are currently in the process of applying for tax exempt status, creating the bylaws and setting up the corporate structure.
We felt that it was essential that the management of this project remains the responsiblity of the second generation, as this is our issue and the success of this approach depends on us being empowered ourselves. The founding Directors and Officers of SPF will all be young adults raised in the Family. The domain names for safepassagefoundation.com and .org have been registered, and a web site will be coming soon with many more details on this.
While there are some very concrete goals as to what we plan to accomplish, establishing a project of this size is a long-term endeavor, and there is still a great deal of work to do. For the first few years we will mostly likely focus on youth raised in The Family, as a pilot, before including other groups. I wanted to ask everyone here to think about this, and let us know if you are interested in working with us on this, or if you have ideas for things that you would like to see happen, or specific things that you want to set up in your own area, or other areas that should be addressed.
The following is an un-finalized copy of a brochure being developed to explain what SPF is and some of the specific things we are working to establish, which should provide a clearer picture of the project and our goals.
To contact the SPF team write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Safe Passage Foundation is a non-religious, New York not-for-profit corporation that provides resources, support and advocacy for youth raised in restrictive or isolated communities. The universally accepted principles of basic human rights are the cornerstone upon which Safe Passage Foundation is established.
About Safe Passage Foundation
Adults with a high level of commitment to an ideal, religion or alternative belief system, sometimes choose a lifestyle within a restrictive or high-demand community. Children born into these communities are often isolated and may be without access to conventional forms of education, socialization or protection. Youth who leave these communities often do so without the support structure of family and friends. People raised in restrictive communities are an invisible demographic.
Safe Passage Foundation seeks to ensure that the rights of minors within restrictive communities are protected and that those who choose to leave their community of origin have a support structure throughout the transitional period.
“When I was a child, my father moved our family to India. We lived in a branch of the isolated community he was part of. From the age of fourteen I had decided that I did not want to continue with his way of life. A few weeks after my 16th birthday, three friends of mine and I jumped over the wall of the compound with enough money to get downtown. We contacted our grandparents and were able to purchase tickets for each of us to return to our country of origin. Although I am a US citizen, I had never been to the USA. I had not been to school since the third grade. Catching up with schoolwork to bring me to the 10th grade was a non-stop struggle. I didn't fit into the new environment and lacked any knowledge of the American culture. I cried myself to sleep nearly every night for the first year."
For children being raised in such organizations, our goal is to provide advocacy exclusively in the best interests of the children. To this end we seek to partner professionals from a wide range of disciplines with those who have the unique understanding of the community that comes from having been raised in these environments themselves. This unique approach provides both cultural sensitivity and professional expertise in order to best communicate with and support those who are at risk.
Young people who leave these communities with inadequate preparation for life outside their community of origin may be exceptionally vulnerable to exploitation, marginalization, suicide, medical complications, crime and substance abuse. Our goal is to provide a network of support to enable successful integration into local communities. We provide educational and occupational tools to assist young adults transitioning from isolated or restrictive communities to becoming independent and productive members of society.
We Can Work Together To......
...Create AwarenessFor healthcare workers, educators, law enforcement, other professionals and members of the general public who are likely to come in contact with youth currently in or formerly raised in isolated or restrictive communities, Safe Passage Foundation provides training and education in order to raise the level of acceptance of members of our client base, diminish discrimination, while raising awareness of the challenges these young people face
....Provide Community SupportMentors, friends, peers and support can make a vital difference in the life of a young person who may be struggling to fit in and catch up. Safe Passage Foundation pre-screens and partners youth with people who can teach them about their national society and provides support groups, peer advocacy and counselling
....Provide OpportunitiesYour donation to Safe Passage Foundation is used to fund scholarships, occupational and support programs, advocacy, and research.
...Create NetworksAs part of a support network, Safe Passage Foundation provides referrals to community professionals who provide program involvement in areas such as work placement, tutoring, occupational training, emergency housing, childcare support and legal advice
...Provide AdvocacyWe aim to facilitate open dialogue and interaction with the communities themselves to aid in the advocacy for and protection of the rights of children within restrictive communities
...Conduct ResearchDue to the insular nature of some restrictive communities, little is known about the long-term effects that the high-demand lifestyle of parents may have on their children. Research is needed in these areas to identify the issues that children in these communities face.