News / USA

Annual Event Helps Torture Treatment Center

Annual Event Helps Torture Treatment Centeri
X
May 18, 2013 3:51 PM
Once a year, an event called Big Sunday Weekend mobilizes volunteers to help at different organizations and schools. One of the places volunteers visited this year is the Program for Torture Victims, a torture treatment center in Los Angeles. The center helps survivors heal and also provides testimony to help them gain asylum in the United States. From 2010 to 2012, the Program for Torture Victims worked with close to 700 survivors from more than 65 countries. Elizabeth Lee has details from Los Angeles.
Elizabeth Lee
Once a year, an event called Big Sunday Weekend mobilizes volunteers to help at different organizations and schools. One of the places volunteers visited this year is the Program for Torture Victims, a torture treatment center in Los Angeles.

The center helps survivors heal and also provides testimony to help them gain asylum in the United States. From 2010 to 2012, the Program for Torture Victims worked with close to 700 survivors from more than 65 countries.

For 26 years Rossana Perez has spent her free time running in a park near downtown Los Angeles.

“It really clears my thoughts and helps me to release stress,” Perez said.

Much of that stress comes from memories of prison and torture.    

“It’s very painful to, you know, talk about things...,” Perez said.

Overcome with emotion, Perez needed a moment to collect herself before continuing.

"A life can be so easily fragmented and one can feel ashamed of...," she said.

Perez came from El Salvador. In the 1980s, during the country's civil war, she was a university student and participated in demonstrations for social reform. She says she was labeled as a communist and was arrested and tortured.

“They push you. They beat you up. They touch you. They say stuff to you. They put things on your body. One day, I remember I was naked. I was with my hands tied [behind my] back, and they put this big metal thing on my head. I was feeling that my body was breaking,” Perez said.

Some torture survivors find their way to Los Angeles, home of the Program for Torture Victims, a center that provides outpatient treatment to those who have been tortured.
 
Trip Oldfield is the center’s executive director. He says this is the first treatment center of its kind in the United States.

He says many American non-profits, including his, lost funding during the economic downturn. Recent government spending cuts haven't helped.

“We used to get about 80 percent of our funding from the government sources, in 2000 for instance. And now it's down to about 50 percent,” Oldfield said.

The Program for Torture Victims depends on volunteers who donate their money and time. At this year's Big Sunday Weekend, volunteers gave the office a new coat of paint, helped rearrange a room, and put up shelves to create a food and clothing bank.
 
“Most of our clients flee with nothing. So some clients come in, and they have nothing. They have the clothes on their backs. We want to give them basics,” Oldfield said.

David Levinson is Big Sunday Weekend's founder.

”We introduce many people to organizations they might not have heard about before,” Levinson said.

The program links survivors of torture to lawyers, psychiatrists and experts on the asylum process.

Oldfield says people who are tortured are never the same, but  they can heal and lead happy, productive lives.  Rossana Perez is working and pursuing a masters degree. She also wants to go for a PhD and help her community and others in need.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid