Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Against All Odds

Amachi is a Nigerian word that loosely translated means "Who knows what God has brought us through this child." The Amachi Texas Mentoring program through Big Brothers Big Sisters has been providing life changing volunteer mentors for some of the most at risk kids for over 10 years: children of incarcerated parents. These kids are 7 times more likely to become incarcerated just because they are born into dysfunctional family cycles of incarceration. Imagine if your dad and grandfather and brother and uncle have all been in jail. It's only natural for you to follow in their footsteps and join the family business. We only know what we see.

I was inspired to write this post because of some great outcome news for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas Amachi kidsIn the last school year 98% progressed to the next grade level!  Now this is something to joyfully rant about! We are very proud of these kids and excited to add this outcome to many others:
  • In 2015, the US Department of Labor reported that only 5% of previously incarcerated youth served now by Big Brothers Big Sisters had re-offended (6% recidivism rate  in Bexar County).   
  • In 2010 after 4 years, 100% of youth in Bexar County with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, identified as at-risk of engaging in juvenile delinquency due to common risk factors, remained incident free according to the Texas Department of Family & Protective Services. 
In 2011 I wrote about how funding for Amachi was at risk and ultimately cut by 50% by the state; that same year the federal Mentoring Children of Prisoners program was also cut by 100%.  Despite these losses, Big Brothers Big Sisters has continued to serve hundreds of Amachi kids every year, helping to Break the Chain.  Unfortunately there are twice as many children on the waiting list, unserved as a result of the cuts. We will be going back to legislators in this next session year in the hopes of restoring the lost Amachi funding. 

Amachi was started by Reverend Wilson Goode in Philadelphia after he visited a prison and met a grandfather, a son and a grandson in the same prison.   The grandson told Reverend Goode that he had a son on the outside who he had never met but fully expected to meet there, in the prison. The reverend was inspired to reach out to the faith community and recruited the first 500 Amachi volunteers that started a movement.

For more info oin how to help, visit or call 210-225-6322.  

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