UPDATE: Amid the COVID pandemic and crises of 2020, at-risk children are "canaries in the coal mine," bearing the first costs of social upheaval and economic disaster. Besides our own children sinking into greater poverty, family violence, and the inevitable repercussions of homelessness and exploitation, the US has thousands of unaccompanied children at our southern border, not far from St. Catherine's. These innocent children are frequently victims of trafficking and many could benefit, along with local children, from the safety of a caring and beautiful environment that now sits vacant.
Three populations of Children at risk.
According to UN estimates, Christian children who have lost their parents to ISIS violence globally face the world's highest risk for sexual exploitation and human trafficking before meeting an early end to their lives. This sadly remains true even after U.S. military victories over ISIS. Closer to home, our own local children lacking parental care are often failed by the systems meant to protect them, and thus face similar risks. Human trafficking is the second most profitable industry in the US and the world, after drug trafficking and before arms trafficking. Finally, our home state of New Mexico is a national leader in late-term abortion.
Called to a Christian response to these tragedies, and equipped with a unique military and human rights background, Familia Victricis is extremely well-positioned to assist. Our plan has multiple levels of implementation, bearing in mind the heroic examples of others who have protected the vulnerable in times of persecution and genocide and sought to save individual lives where systemic intervention was not possible. Life by life, we can make a difference for these children most at risk.
Population #1 - Refugees of International Conflict
Below, ISIS crucifies Christian teens and extremists torment a captive toddler. When such children are not killed immediately, as was recently the case when ISIS killed 250 small children in a commercial dough kneader, they are held in brothels where they are sexually abused and offered for sale. ISIS recently published a list in which children 9 or younger were priced at $172.
Population #2 - Foster Children at Risk for Homelessness and Trafficking
Lest we think that such evils exist only outside our borders, however, we can not forget that American children, when they fall through our foster care and educational system and are not prepared to create a positive future for themselves, too often also are at risk for human trafficking--for which the American market is as voracious and ugly as the international one. Fortunately, this is an easier problem to solve, by providing education that empowers, particularly in entrepreneurship. Whether domestically or internationally, actions that thwart human trafficking combat the same darkness.
Population #3 - Late-Term Abortion Intervention
In addition, in the geographical area of Santa Fe, New Mexico where St. Catherine’s is located, there is a group of the most vulnerable children at grave risk of immediate and violent death. Santa Fe is a considered a destination for “late-term abortion tourism” in the United States. Because of the legality of the procedure in our state, and because it was taught at a nearby university medical school, over half of the dozen or so doctors nationally who perform such abortions (partial birth, up to the final days of pregnancy) practice within a hundred mile radius of Santa Fe.
Mother Teresa always said:
"We must fight abortion with adoption!"
When imagining problems of the sheer scope and tragedy of those identified above, the initial reaction of many might be to turn away--perhaps both to protect their psyches from the shock, and also in the belief that nothing can be done that would meaningfully impact issues so immense. This could not be further from the truth. Familia Victricis offers a deeply practical, multi-staged set of solutions that not only can be accomplished, in many cases with surprisingly little investment due to the resources already in place, but which at each level impact and improve the lives of victims.
Our solutions revolve around the three populations we intend to serve, gradually accommodating greater numbers of children and the growth of the self-sustaining activities of Familia Victricis, allowing us to afford and expand our care.
Population #1 – Refugees of International Conflict
Rather than protect our psyches by turning away from the problem, we can all truly lighten our consciences knowing that, much like the few who took action to protect the lives of individual Jewish children during WWII, we can be among those who contributed to the safety of those who we could rescue. Uniquely, Familia Victricis brings special skills to bear to the rescue of these children.
Several of our founding members are former counterterrorism professionals with military, federal, private, and corporate security backgrounds. Familia Victricis retains ownership of D'Angelo Global Solutions--a private investigative and military contracting company (PMC) with clients including the U.S. Departments of Defense and State, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and other government and private organizations.
In addition to the many connections to the community operating overseas this provides, this ownership allows us to hold investigative licenses and government clearances that may prove essential to mission success. In addition, our connection to the veteran community goes deeply beyond. Veterans and operators are often troubled by the issue of having to leave children behind that they hoped to protect, and are particularly cooperative with the mission of Familia Victricis in helping to bring children to safety--whether that means doing so operationally or through pitching in as organizations like Team Rubicon to help restore our facilities for children in the US, bringing freely donated labor and engineering skills to the table.
At this point, the work of our founders has helped bring United Nations and U.S. Government attention to the human rights abuses against trafficked and exploited children in Afghanistan and in areas under ISIS control. Their long involvement in these communities can contribute to international, NGO, State Department, and military assistance in the extraction and immigration of the children to safety in the United States at St. Catherine’s.
Due to recent victories in the U.S. campaign against ISIS, the ease of these extractions has become even more promising. In their defeat, ISIS has begun to traffic the children held in its brothels into Turkey and southern Europe, reducing the complexity of both rescue operations and immigration issues enormously. In addition, the opening of Iraq and Syria to Catholic humanitarian efforts all but eliminates the need for covert action.
Infants to pre-schoolers will be cared for in our early childhood center, shared with little ones from our late-term abortion intervention initiative. ESL learning will be facilitated through community and military veteran volunteers. Upon reaching school age, St. Catherine’s will initially participate in a State of New Mexico program called the Connections Academy, allowing students to receive a fully accredited education while remaining “home” in school facilities on St. Catherine’s grounds, in a Catholic environment with their religious education overseen by Catholic sisters.
Population #2 – Foster Children at Risk for Homelessness and Trafficking
Often, children who age out of the foster system have endured such constant change, turmoil, and even abuse in their home lives, that they are ill-equipped to create for themselves a positive future. Frequently, their academic performance has suffered from the inconsistency in their situations, and many lack the stability to have learned positive life skills. When they turn 18 or run away prematurely, they may not prepared for the next step in their adult lives and often fall into homelessness and its associated traps of substance abuse, prostitution, and human trafficking.
Our changing world presents new possibilities for these children that would not have existed even a few years before. One exciting program that St. Catherine’s can offer is in a technology called “coding,” a computer skill on which all internet business is based. Federal grant funding is available to institutions offering this program of study in a live/work/learn environment in designated “TechHire” cities. A Famila Victricis associate secured this federal designation for Santa Fe, thus making St. Catherine’s coding program eligible for millions in federal funds.
Through this program, interested students would receive certification in the skill, which requires aptitude but not previous academic success. Such certification would normally cost a student $30,000 in tuition. Instead, St. Catherine’s students would not only receive the certification free, but would also graduate with their own laptop computer, enabling them to immediately begin their own business as an independent contractor. The starting salary for a coder with this certification is $50,000 annually.
Because of the great potential benefit of this program, the New Mexico Department of Children, Youth, and Families (CYFD) has begun to investigate whether they could channel children into it prior to their aging-out phase. A longer time with the teens could ensure that St. Catherine’s could provide stability, care, and education in life skills that would allow its graduates to make the best use of the opportunity.
Of course, not all children will have the aptitude or desire to learn coding. This program is only an example of many such trade/entrepreneurship programs combined with life skills we hope to offer. Other programs include bakery/culinary and hospitality programs along with arts, agricultural, and traditional trade training through programs like Maker’s Space.
Interestingly, such training in entrepreneurship will also serve to help the financial sustainment of St. Catherine’s through programs providing work and internship opportunities for our older students, to include a bakery on campus, a “reverse soup kitchen” program, the sale of agricultural products at local farmer’s markets, etc.
Population #3 – Late-Term Abortion Intervention
Incredible counseling programs already exist to reach out with compassion to those mothers who find themselves in an extreme circumstance. Working with these resources already in place, St. Catherine’s could offer an additional layer of help. St. Catherine’s plans to house a nursery within its facilities, allowing counselors the ability to both tell women the truth and offer a beautiful option. Because the abortion procedure would not spare a mother in the last phase of her pregnancy the experience of childbirth, and because the baby would “go away” just as the mother wished (though to loving arms at St. Catherine’s rather than to the trash bin), we can hope to spare the lives of these little ones.
This is shockingly perhaps the easiest element of our plans. In close coordination with the New Mexico CYFD, which has generously agreed to provide case management and physical and financial resources for the care of these infants, we have learned that newborn infants would typically only require the care of St. Catherine’s from 1 week to 6 months of age, as infants are usually placed for adoption very rapidly within this period. In that short time, St. Catherine’s, in association with community programs, would shower the little ones with the nurturing care, contact, and affection needed at that critical stage of their development.