I have had the privilege of interning as a teacher on behalf of African Soul International for Pennacle Foundation Inc. In South Central Los Angeles! I began this internship with a goal in mind: spreading awareness about human trafficking and increasing knowledge about self empowerment and entrepreneurship for the youth in the program.
Pennacle is a provider for the LA County Summer Youth Employment Program, so my job included recruiting youth who needed jobs in the area, training them for 20 hrs, and helping them to find work in the surrounding area that could be sustainable! My first week, after training, I was helping a girl, I’ll call her K for privacy, create a new resume. As she was telling me about her struggle to find long term employment and sharing her frustrations of being a teenage parent who was raised by her grandparents after her mother was incarcerated for several years. She and I both shared a few years, but also a lot of hope and happiness. Another girl whose resume I worked on disclosed that she and her sister have both been living in a group home ever since her sister and parents got into a fight and child services came. It was rough because she didn’t know what address to put on her resume.
A few days later, as some of the newly employed youth were helping Pennacle set up for their free community food program, some of them shared with me the dangerous realities of living in the area. One youth, whom I will call Von, told me that after going home following training one day she was chased by a girl who got out of her car with a knife in hand. Apparently she didn’t look like she belonged there, so her life was threatened. Another group of young men told me how just looking as if you “don’t belong” in an area can get you killed, claiming that gangs in the area no longer care about colors but rather stereotype based on race and other physical traits. One guy, J, showed me two keloided scars just below his collar bone where a bullet had entered his skin and (fortunately) exited again. This occurred, unfortunately when he was only 16 and all because he was misidentified as someone else.
This has been an amazing journey so far, I can’t wait to see what comes next!