Posts Tagged ‘Program for Torture Victims’

Interview – Live This Morning

August 9, 2021

Thank you, Curtis Smith, for interviewing me for JMWW – and thanks to Jen Michalski for putting it up live this morning.

VoyageLA Gives Me A ShoutOut

April 5, 2021

Here’s the interview.

Saying Goodbye to Dianna Ortiz

February 22, 2021

Dianna Ortiz, an American nun, was working with Indigenous people when she was abducted, tortured and raped by the Guatemalan military. Her fight to see justice done uncovered the US complicity with the Guatemalan genocide. She became an important part of the campaign against the practice of torture and for the healing of survivors. She directed TASSC – Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition.

In 2012, at the Program for Torture Victims, we honored her as a Human Rights Hero. We learned today that she died this week, in hospice, much too young at 62.

Thinking of her made me remember: I was in Guatemala about a decade before she was, briefly staying at a guesthouse where military officers stationed in the village also took meals. We ate family-style. I was talking about the school for Indigenous youth where I’d been living in Mexico. The table fell silent till one of the men said, “Señorita, you must not talk about this. It’s all very good for Mexico, but in this country, if you teach an Indian to read, the Army will kill you.”

Rest in peace, Sister Dianna.

The Human Dignity Awards Dinner

April 27, 2018

The theme was Women in Human Rights and Healing and it was amazing to be honored last night along with LA City Councilwoman Nury Martinez, who’s led the fight against the trafficking of women and girls, Lisa Fujimoto of the Change a Life Foundation, and the wonderful Amina Nakiyaga who shook everyone up with her speech. We got the celebrity photo treatment and the photos were then projected in the banquet hall throughout the program. Here I’m with Amina


and here with Rossana Perez, my brave and talented friend who survived the worst in El Salvador in the ’80’s (and brought the flowers).


We raised a lot of money for the Program for Torture Victims – but it’s never enough!

Events Coming Up!

March 17, 2018

Sunday, May 6, 2018 at 7:00 PM I’ll be reading at the Ruskin Group Theater along with Garrett Saleen, Grace Singh Smith, and David Preizler, introduced by my fave Andrew Tonkovich, presented by Library Girl. The theater is at 3000 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90405. $10 at the door and free parking.

Thursday, April 26, 2018 at LA Cathedral: The theme of the Human Dignity Awards Dinner (to benefit the Program for Torture Victims) is “Celebrating Women in Human Rights and Healing” — and I’m one of them! along with LA City Councilmember Nury Martinez, Lisa Fujimoto of the Change a Life Foundation, and Channel 11 anchorwoman Marla Tellez. Tickets at ptvla.org/dinner

Inheriting Genocide

February 27, 2018

On February 7th, I attended a symposium at the Museum of Tolerance here in Los Angeles.

Much of what I heard from clinicians, researchers, and survivors seemed to apply to a wide range of survivors, including generations affected by historical trauma.

It resonated with me personally as well as what I’ve experienced working with asylum seekers at the Program for Torture Victims and through my artistic work with ImaginAction, an international organization dedicated to promoting social justice and community healing through the arts, especially through theater. I decided to write up some of my responses to the symposium for the ImaginAction website.

This may be of interest to some of you who follow this blog and so here’s a link to the first, introductory installment: Intergenerational Trauma.

In the months that follow, I’ll let you know when new installments are posted.

Part 2: Conspiracy of Silence.

Part 3: Surviving Survival .

Part 4: Theories of Transmission .

Part 5: Childhood Amnesia.

Interview at Awst Press – Beautiful ideas cross borders

December 11, 2015

Liz Blood was in the process of leaving Austin, TX for Tulsa, OK but still caught up with me and edited our interview for Awst Press. If you check it out, I also highly recommend the essay by Donald Quist.

and for something lighter and happier, the latest cat photo.

Millie and plant

She can’t go back.

October 23, 2015

Nancy said, “I have to forget about Uganda. There are some sweet memories but that’s a place I can never go back to. What happened was they arrested a few people at an illegal meeting and somebody during interrogation named me….”

She impresses me so much with her intelligence and ambition and grace.

Her story also illustrates how the ordinary assumptions Americans make so easily can confound a person seeking asylum. I just posted her story here.

Kampala

Survivors of Torture, Rebuilding Lives in Los Angeles

February 28, 2015

It’s been an overwhelming experience to be working again with Hector Aristizábal and Julian Scharmacher, collecting oral histories from survivors and from their families.

We’ve been very interested not only in the experiences of the asylum-seekers themselves but also in what happens to the second generation, the people who are also affected by exile and trauma but who are too often overlooked.

We’ve met some extraordinary people but fears for safety–their own and their families’–has meant that many of these stories can’t be told.

A small brave group will open up onstage on March 23 and 24, and I am just beginning to post the narratives that have been approved.

You can find information about the free performances and read survivor stories as they go up at our website.

Mad Street Scene by Jose Ramirez

Mad Street Scene by Jose Ramirez

March 23, 2015 at Mercado La Paloma, Community Room, 3655 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90007 at 6:30 PM

Facility is ADA-complaint; Food available for purchase; Parking is free in the evening in the Mercado’s lot, on the street, and around the corner at DMV lot on Hope between W. 37th and Exposition.

March 24, 2015 at Cafe Club Fais Do-Do, 5257 West Adams Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90016

Reception and Cash Bar at 6:30; Performance at 7:00 PM

Restrooms at this venue up a flight of stairs. Street parking.

More to come over the next year so please keep checking in.

We are grateful to all the participants, to the Program for Torture Victims for their help. For the support that makes this project possible, our gratitude to the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and to CalHumanities, a partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

We Are Here: Theater of Witness with Survivors of Torture

March 2, 2013

We Are Here photo

February 26th and 27th, 2013, torture survivors from Cameroon, El Salvador, Guatemala, Russia, and Uganda told their stories of surviving ordeals and rebuilding their lives in Los Angeles. They aren’t trained as actors, but they took the stage with confidence, speaking publicly for the first time thanks to the direction of Hector Aristizabal and Alessia Cartoni.

It was an honor to meet these brave men and women and put the script together from their own words captured in extensive interviews.

The project was supported with a grant from the LA Department of Cultural Affairs and with the cooperation of the Program for Torture Victims, providing healing and hope since 1980.

We had wonderful audiences both nights – first at Mercado La Paloma and then at Club Fais Do-Do – and Alexandra Chun brought flowers to each performance for audience members to carry to the stage for the impromptu shrine or to present to the cast members. Two beautiful nights with beautiful people!

Wishing much happiness to the participants: Rossana Perez, Mario Avila, Masha Choporova, Edison Bandeeba, Josephine Athieno, and Boniface Talla who was not able to perform but allowed Hector to present his story.