The Natural Helpers Project was started by the API Safety Center over 15 years ago to develop bilingual outreach volunteers who help link people experiencing dating or domestic violence to our services. The volunteers are trained to recognize the dynamics and warning signs of domestic violence. They understand the barriers to obtaining services in the API communities and they seek out assistance for families and individuals in need.
These volunteers are natural helpers in their community. They are hair stylists, cafe owners, faith leaders, day care providers, bartenders, teachers, youth workers, community organizers, etc. They are ones people come to when they are having problems; they are the ones who are willing to help. Natural Helpers find other potential natural helpers to create a network of individuals who become our eyes and ears in our communities.
The Natural Helpers Project is especially valuable because it also works as a leadership development program that nurtures natural community leaders to address gender-based violence in our communities and to work for long-term social change. It works within the framework of community accountability and transformative justice, although it was developed before these concepts became popular.
Currently, API Chaya offers our Natural Helpers Training twice a year. It is free to current volunteers and is open to community members for a small fee. The training provides an overview of systems of oppression with a deep focus on gender-based violence and community-based responses.
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