• Hawthorne Smith, PhD

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture 2020



Unbelievably, we are arriving at the halfway point in the year. I swear that we just blinked at some point during the New Year celebration, and now we find ourselves halfway through. How could it have gone so fast, and yet how could so much have happened and the world changed so drastically?


As we approach this milestone, and commemorate the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, perhaps we can take stock of where we are. We are all well aware of the ongoing challenges we are facing, so It might be wise to shed some light on our blessings.


At the beginning of the COVID-109 pandemic, we asked you folks to support us in reaching our goal of $10,000 to help meet immediate crisis needs for our clients. You stepped up marvelously, and we are happy to report that the funds have been widely used and deeply appreciated. We have been able to contact 100% of our active clients (those who have accessed services in the past year).


We have provided telehealth (whether psychological, psychiatric, or specialty medical), facilitated access to medication, provided financial assistance and advocacy, as well as social service resources and ongoing legal consultations.


Young PSOT members (and some not so young) are graduating from their programs (high school, elementary school, Associate’s degrees, and Bachelor’s degrees), and we are so extraordinarily proud of each and every one of you.


Across the board, PSOT clients express a growing understanding of what is transpiring in this country socially, legally, and politically. They are beginning to see these events as a continuum of many of the human rights struggles they have been involved within their homelands, and they see themselves as being less isolated and “out of the picture,” as they see a confluence in the struggle for human rights and dignity wherever it may occur.


Clients are concerned by many of the recent bellicose policy initiatives regarding immigration, and asylum in particular, that have been coming from Washington, DC. They remain heartened, however, by the response of civil society, legal and human rights advocates, – who are working tirelessly to make sure that our clients’ human rights are not trampled (again) during this contentious political season in the US. The recent victory of the “Dreamers” and LGBTQ workforce members before the Supreme Court are great examples of the strength, ingenuity, and commitment of human rights advocates, and serve to provide hope to our vulnerable clients.


All this being said, we turn to you once again for support. The $10,000 we raised in March is nearly finished, but the crisis remains for many of our clients who do not have access to governmental support. We have numerous battles to fight for fairness within the asylum process. We are gradually ramping up teleservices, including video sessions and intakes. We continue to support our clients as tenaciously as we can, but we need to replenish the available resources.


We know that you are with us. At this halfway juncture of 2020, we salute survivors of torture worldwide with events on June 26th, but realize that the fight is a daily struggle – one that is often conducted in quiet conversations and interventions – far from the bright lights and media exposure.


Can we count on you to help us in these endeavors? As always, we thank you for your understanding and support.


One love, Hawk


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