Homies Unidos is requesting your financial support to put together the Second Central American Youth Conference entitle “Juventud en Busca de Paz y Prosperidad” to formally welcome our Central American Refugee (CAR) youth to our community to connect them with resources that will address their trauma around the social determinants of health. CAR Youth have been dealing with violence since they lived in their country of origin, which they were forced to emigrate. They embarked in a dangerous journey through Mexico, and ended up incarcerated in the U.S. detention centers, after that the Immigration Enforcement Agency reallocated them into Refugee Centers until they were finally released to their parents/legal guardians. But their hopes and dreams of starting a new life free from violence have been challenged during a complex transitioning and reintegration process, when they unified with their family or relatives they had not seen in over a decade, new schools where they didn’t know anyone nor the language and feel alienated. and the reality that many of these neighborhoods they came to live in lack the proper health systems. They are coping with anxiety, depression, and PSTD. Organizations in Los Angeles like CARECEN and Saint St. John’s Well Child Center among others stepped forward and do great work; providing they help for their trauma, others served them with their immigration legal process. Homies Unidos is helping them with the culture shock they are experiencing in their schools and with their families. Homies Unidos started reaching out to schools and community service providers to refer any youth who needs mental health or legal services. As part of a preventive strategy we began implementing the Joven Noble, character development program to provide a safe space where they can express themselves through indigenous traditional teaching tools. Even though, our limited resources we have served over 58 youth in four different schools: Santee High, Hawthorne High, Hawkins High and L.A. River. Through this Conference we will address the need to bring youth from other schools who are not benefiting with these services, where they can share experiences and be introduced to health service providers and other resources. Finally, we need to ensure these youth have a successful, healthy, safe, and well-supported integration to our communities. Therefore, in solidarity with Central American refugees, Homies Unidos is proposing to put together the first locally accessible Central American Youth Conference. The main purpose will be to ensure that these refugee youth feel welcomed, introduced to service providers and to celebrate and promote Central American art and culture. Goals
Our conference main goals look to,
- Revitalize our support and welcoming the Central American youth and their families who fled violence and economic hardship in their country of origin and now are refugees in the U.S. and,
- Connect Central American youth with resources provided by organizations in; legal services, mental health, education and violence prevention.
- Produce a resolution from our youth to ensure their refugee status automatically entitled to asylum, education, health, and decent work.
As a result of this conference organized by our Central American youth would have graduated from our summer Youth Leadership Training, we will have learned together to organize around the health disparities based in the social determinants of health, in their communities and will become part of a larger component of the Youth Refugee Council. Overall, Central American youth from various schools will benefit from the health resources and cultural activities provided by organizations, endorsers, funders, and the youth themselves; which eventually would create opportunities for positive feedback, health referral system and self-esteem building for CAR youth, in the long run towards more support from the main community stakeholders.
Why it matters?
Homies Unidos has advocated for just policies to deal with the issue of violence that plagues not just the streets of Los Angeles but also the streets of Central America. We will be joining School of The Americas Watch Vigil in their mission to close down this school who has trained many dictators and assassins throughout Latin America. These atrocities that’s happened primarily in Central America were the reason over 1.8 million Salvadorans live outside of their country and thousands, now children continue to flee.
Once again the U.S. foreign immigration, war on drug and economic policies has driven over 63,000 Central American children to the U.S. border just in 2014. These children became known as the “Unaccompanied Minors”. These youth are in our communities and are having difficulties integrating in the school system, with their parents they have not seen in years and they have come to live in communities where there is in large amounts of violence. Homies Unidos has been working with these youth in their schools through our rites of passage, Joven Noble program.
As part of The Joven Noble program youth qualify for our summer Youth Leadership Training on civic engagement, community organizing and advocacy, we will take four youth who have graduated from our programs to Columbus, GA where they will speak to a group of thousands of participants about their journey as undocumented youth and how violence from the 80’s is reverent to today’s violence in Central America. We will be screening our Fruits of War documentary and educating people from all parts of the U.S. about the work that Homies Unidos does to reduce violence and what’s happening in Central America at the hands of military that continues to be trained in the School of Americas.
Our youth will present, take part of the workshops, the rallies and meet other youth advocates from around the country. Once they get back to Los Angeles will develop a report of their experience which will be shared with other youth and will be placed on our website.
By getting these youth involved in Human Rights, advocacy and community organizing these youth will be able to understand the reasons they had to forced migrate and understand their parent’s reasons for migrating and leaving them behind. We are creating leaders of our youth who at one point where disfranchised and now are developing into advocates for social justice.
How will the funds be used?
We will use the funds for transportation, housing, food for four youth and 1 staff for two nights. Funds will also help in buying the materials for the screening of the documentary film “Fruits of War”. We will also have T-Shirts identifying our organization at the event.
We have placed perks for the amounts of your contribution. Check out our perks and make your donation accordingly. We will keep you informed, as we get closer to the event, sending pictures of our activities and videos of the youth who will be participating.
You are the one who can make this happen for our youth. Please share the link to your personal friends and send a personal note letting know why you are donating and why they should. You can use Facebook, Twitter or other social media to spread the works. Let us know how there may be other ways you can help.
glorismel j centeno
Ariel Beth Climer
sandra sunshine williams
THOMAS S BYRNES
sandra sunshine williams
Jennifer J. Bolande
Melinda Isordia is the Program Director of Homies Unidos. She is also a student at Los Angeles Trade Technical College, and is a part of a community led collective call Solidarity House of the South in South Central. Melinda’s Program Director.
Currently Melinda focuses on managing and coordinating the Youth Leadership Training Program and an all-girl rites of passage program called Xinachtli. Office management is another concentration Melinda has in the organization. Ultimately, her dream is to see more proud, confident, and compassionate communities.
Alex Sanchez, is the Executive Director of the Los Angeles branch of Homies Unidos, an organization in the Pico Union and Koreatown area of Los Angeles with a sister organization in San Salvador. A former gang member who after serving prison time California State Prison was deported back to El Salvador in 1994. While in El Salvador he was targeted by Death Squads operating in his home town. He returned committed to change his life for the better. In 1998 he started implementing programs geared to youth in gangs. In 2000 he was targeted by the Rampart police and became part of the infamous Rampart scandal, Alex was freed later that year and in 2002 won Political Asylum. He continues his work in the community. He has received countless awards and recognitions from the City of Los Angeles, Organizations and Foundations.
To understand the Gang subculture, you need to understand how politics and policy has played a major role in spreading gangs from Los Angeles to other continents. Alex’s expertise in gang subculture and youth criminalization developed through his experiences as gang member. His dedication to his community on issues of transnational youth violence and criminalized immigrants has made him a unique expert on the issue. He has testified in court as a gang expert for the defense on countless occasions, testified in California’s legislature and in 2005 testified in the United Nations on massacres of incarcerated people in Honduras. Hi personal experience and dedication to our youth has helped in the development of the first policy defining what Gang Intervention is and the strategy to use to reduce gang violence. This definition was adopted by the City of Los Angeles and is currently being translated into Spanish to be introduced in Juarez, Mexico and hopefully El Salvador. Suppression and incarceration are but a bad aid to cover the root causes of the self-destruction of our youth both in Central America and the United States.