The following case for support contains graphic descriptions and stories of the victims of crime. Names have been changed to protect victim privacy.
Pedro was the victim of bullying at his middle school. His peers called him names and his Hispanic heritage was insulted. As the school year progressed, things got worse. He was hit in the eye, and suffered lacerations on his forehead and forearm. While his parents grieved with him, they worried about stirring up trouble with school administration and risking their livelihoods in the U.S.
Josefina’s husband took his anger out on her and her son Fernando. Josefina worried each time her husband returned home from work that they would be subject to his abuse again. Josefina was afraid of contacted the police losing her husband as the primary breadwinner, but could not stand seeing her family live under torment and pain.
When Leticia discovered her husband had been sexually abusing her daughter, Leticia, for many years, she did not know where to turn. Her daughter, Gabriela, had long suffered from a brain embolism that left part of her body paralyzed, and because Leticia did not speak English, she had worried about contacting the authorities because of her immigration status.
These are just three of the heart-wrenching stories we have heard at Interfaith Arkansas through our project, the Latino Crime Victims Assistance Center. Sensing a need for support for immigrant crime victims in the Latino community of Little Rock, Interfaith Arkansas wrote a grant proposal and was awarded a Victims of Crime grant from the U.S. Justice Department in October, 2018.
And through the LCVAC, we have successfully brought justice in each of the above cases; harassers went to jail in the U.S., have had restraining orders placed on them, or were deported to their country of origin for their criminal offenses. Since October, Interfaith Arkansas has brought justice to 273 victims of domestic violence, sexual violence, burglary, and hate crimes. Our shoestring staff has provided victims with access to lawyers, translation services, counseling, and emergency food and lodging. We’ve also conducted trainings for volunteer crime victim advocates to offer transportation and support for victims.
Sometimes, Assistant Coordinator Freddy Lozada shares some of the graphic images of the injuries. We have seen bruises on backs, scars on arms, the tear-filled eyes of people who have experienced real trauma and feared their voices would not be heard. Interfaith Arkansas listened to their stories, amplified their voices, and helped them find justice and healing.
According to research published this year in Criminology magazine, immigrants in neighborhoods composed primarily of immigrant families are far less likely to report a crime to police. Immigrants are afraid to report crimes or are uneducated about their rights.
Though we received a grant in 2018 to support this specific project, we still have many expenses and local community matching commitments associated with operating the Latino Crime Victims Assistance Center, and with promoting interfaith activities in the state. We have a goal of raising $15,000 by August 15 for Interfaith Arkansas.
Will you make a gift right now to support Interfaith Arkansas? Interfaith Arkansas has served Leticia, Gabriela, Pedro, Josefina, and Fernando and so many families in Central Arkansas. You can bring families like these closer to justice, peace, and healing.
We believe that no community or religious group should suffer persecution of any kind and should not be afraid of accessing justice in a society. As a community of Bahai, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and other religious groups, we believe that promoting the self-worth of every human being and protecting their rights is paramount in promoting a pluralistic society.
Rev. Jason Smith
President, Board of Directors
Mail checks to: Interfaith Arkansas P.O. Box 2441, Little Rock, AR 72203