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Jericho Road INC. Still Walking to End Domestic Violence

Everyone deserves to be in a loving and healthy relationship. Unfortunately, on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.

October is Domestic Violence Prevention Month and Jericho Road Inc., a nonprofit organization that supports the restoration of families by helping to address domestic violence in New York City, hosted its 6th annual Breaking the Bonds of Violence Walk-A-Thon. Organized by Carl Joseph, the program director, and consultant at Jericho INC., the goal of the walk-a-thon was to raise awareness about domestic violence and funds to purchase baby clothes for children affected by domestic violence. A portion of the proceeds was also donated to the NYC Family Justice Center in Brooklyn, which assists victims of domestic violence.

Mr. Joseph's approach is to get more men involved and make them aware that domestic violence is wrong and why it happens. Young boys witness violence and when they grow up they bring their experiences to their relationships and the cycle continues. He gives seminars in local middle and high schools, and churches around New York City.

"Men need to be taught at an early age that domestic violence is wrong," said Mr. Joseph. "We need to love ourselves before we can love somebody else."

The Reverend Dr. Elena Bascom, a survivor of domestic violence, created Jericho Road because she wanted to help women who were victims of domestic abuse. The organization provides information through seminars given at public schools, correction facilities, universities, and churches in New York City where survivors tell their stories and answer questions. The seminars present ways to build better relationships by explaining the real meaning of LOVE, discouraging violent behavior, and developing healthy values. Jericho Road Inc. also collaborates with health services, youth clubs, and community-based groups.

Antonio Bascom, son of the Reverend Dr. Elena Bascom, explained domestic violence from a child's point of view. He was 4 years-old when he witnessed his mother being abused by his father. Witnessing the abuse caused emotional and physical problems. It affected his grades, he gained weight, he found it hard to relate to people, and develop positive relationships. He grew up feeling alone and isolated.

"...You can't feel comfortable in your environment if you're not comfortable at home."

Antonio has multiple roles within the JRI organization. He does television responses, creates t-shirts, writes the literature, and helps with organizing the seminars.

"Love is freedom and jealousy is possession," said Antonio. "Jealousy will allow a person to abuse you. Love will allow a person to love you and forgive you anytime that you get in trouble."

In 2008, Dr. Reverend Elena Bascom and a group of survivors published a book called, The Survivor Series: Stories of Women Who Survived the Impossible. The book was a compilation of testimonies of victims and how they prevailed.

"I hoped and prayed that someone would read the book because it would blow peoples' minds that we survived and live the way we do," she said.

Phyllis Hall, one of the survivors noted in the book, attended the walk-a-thon. She was abused by her husband who was in the Marine Corps. The abuse started verbally, and then it turned physical later during their marriage. One night he grabbed her by the neck and slammed her head against a pole that was sticking out of the ground. She was taken to Kings County Hospital. She was afraid to report the incident because she was living with his family. Another time, he took a pot of hot oatmeal and poured it on her face. She suffered third-degree burns on her face and neck. While she was carrying their third child, he pushed her down the stairs and the baby was born breached.

"Love is time, love is caring for you, love is protecting you," said Phyllis.

Her husband got a restraining order against her and had her kicked out of their home and away from her kids. The abuses lead to a drug addiction. She went to rehab and then stayed with friends until she got a job and an apartment. She has been drug free for 18 years. She hasn't seen her husband since she left rehab. Until this day, he has never apologized to her for his abuse.

Reverend Dr. Elena Bascom also experienced domestic violence as a married woman. A month after she married her husband, he started beating her.

"If you can't love with me, leave me, but don't beat me," she said.

When she left her husband, she had no family or friends to go to; it was just her and her son. She went to church and spoke to other domestic violence victims. She then found a place of her own and went to school.

The walk-a-thon, which started at Marine Park, went throughout Mill Basin. After people returned to the starting point, everyone took a purple balloon and gathered in a large area in the park. A poem called "God Kissed Me and Created Oat," was recited as the balloons were released into the sky representing those who passed away from domestic violence and the survivors who live to tell their stories. I end this article with a quote from Reverend Dr. Elena Bascom, an inspiration who believes that love should never be abusive; instead love should be giving and sharing:

"I'm a survivor. I made it. I can tell anybody, 'I don't care where you are at, I don't care where you were, not only can you come out, but you can do better.'"

A Journey into Wellness Education with Queen Afua and Her Family

I always wanted to know what it would be like to obtain a healthier lifestyle in a holistic fashion. That's why I was excited to attend a wellness gala given at the Nicholas Bookstore in Brooklyn to celebrate the legacy and 60th birthday of holistic healer, Queen Afua. She is the founder of the Global City of Wellness Institute, a set of schools that trains future leaders in principles of personal, physical, and emotional wellness. The gala also celebrated the return of her son, Supa Nova Slom, from his recent U.S. Army service in Afghanistan.

A world-renowned certified holistic health specialist, Queen Afua, has shared messages of spiritual healing to various institutions such as NASA and The Coalition of 100 Black Women, as well as with audiences in the Caribbean, Europe, and Canada. Her essays and articles have been published in various newspapers and magazines where she shares her views on health and longevity; and health issues that threaten urban communities. Queen Afua has changed the lives of thousands through her cleansing formulas, her one-day seasonal fasting retreats, books, and holistic empowerment workshops.

To get healthy, "first you need a vision of what your purpose is..."she said.

One needs to determine if the purpose to lose weight, find internal healing, or overcoming diseases such as diabetes, fatigue, or stress. Next, the 21-day journey begins using her detox program including formulas and tablets to overcome all that is clouding one's health and lifestyle.

So how did Queen Afua get to this place of natural healing? Did she grow up this way?

Not really, she made the change to holistic healing as she said to me using the civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer's quote, "I was sick and tired of being sick and tired" and came to the conclusion that "it was time for a change."

From seven to seventeen years of age Queen Afua was sickly, experiencing mood swings, PMS, chronic asthma, and other chronic diseases. In her quest to get better, she was invited by a friend to a healing retreat. After fasting for one day her body changed for the better.

From that point on, she became a holistic life coach because "whatever the issues are," she said to me, "in nature we can heal ourselves."

QueenAfua-FamilyQueen Afua's two sons, whom she refers to as her "phenomenal sons," were born vegans. Her youngest son, Ali Torain (aka Ali the Great), is CEO of Queen Afua Enterprises and trains in (non-competitive) bodybuilding.

"...In our journey you don't get respect as a man unless you have a certain presence," he said before the conference. "A lot of men get respect when they show the ability to look good and have bodies that are fit."

Ali talked about growing up with his brother as vegans and even today he prefers to get his protein from fruits and vegetables. He's been preparing vegan dishes since he was 17 years-old. He later became a professional chef and then started working alongside his mother teaching the value of healthy eating.

Supa Nova Slom is Queen Afua's oldest son. His book, THE REMEDY, explains his passion for a healthy lifestyle. A member of a hip-hop group, The Cosvarti, Supa Nova uses hip-hop as a platform to address social and political issues that affects today's communities. Influencing the nutritional habits of various artists such as Erykah Badu, T.I., Jada Kiss, and The Game, Supa Nova is known as Hip-Hop's Medicine Man. One doesn't readily think of vegans in the military, but he's also an active duty soldier.

"I joined the military because I wanted to challenge myself," Supa Nova stated. "I wanted to have the experience to serve my country and see if I can really survive that experience."

When Supa Nova was deployed to Afghanistan, he was a member of the Special Forces Unit. He called his experience in the military spiritual. Wellness was his ministry, as he spread his message to his fellow soldiers and superiors so they could maintain mental, physical, and spiritual stability in the midst of war. Supa Nova shared with his fellow soldiers his wisdom of survival through the benefits of "juicing" and his product, "Supa Mega Greens," a health supplement made of natural plants. There were times when the Taliban fired shots at his camp while they were juicing.

"If I could be dodging rockets and small arms fire everyday for nine months, and I'm still meditating, still juicing, still praying, still doing the right thing, eating right in the midst of that, I don't want to hear nothing about you can't be awesome," he said.

Supa Nova's new platform, "No Excuse Wellness," is a message that is a blend of military and popular culture and it fits in with his style.

It will also fit in with the family's new venture. During the conference, Ali The Great introduced the launching of the First Family of Wellness and its platform for the Global Nation of Wellness. So look out for Queen Afua and her sons, as they will be touring major cities throughout the United States starting this fall.

"The healing of a nation begins with oneself," and "the power to heal is within you and you have the power to heal yourself," Queen Afua stated emphatically with a dash of regality.

Lifebeat: Music Fights HIV/AIDS Brings out Music and Film Stars

In commemoration of World AIDS Day, What's The 411 presents this throwback video from 2002, featuring Black music and film stars who came out for a benefit concert to support Lifebeat: Music Fights HIV/AIDS, a national non-profit organization dedicated to reaching America's youth with the message of HIV/AIDS prevention.

Included in this video are actor/comedian Mike Epps; actress/director Kim Fields; singer/songwriter Musiq; musician/DJ Kid Capri; rapper/actor Ja Rule; music producer Irv Gotti; singer/songwriter Ashanti; and rapper, Charli Baltimore.

Everyone spoke about the need for HIV/AIDS Awareness and prevention.

Kim Fields reminded us not to alienate those that may be HIV-positive or suffering from AIDS. Unfortunately, even in 2012, some people with HIV are still being ostracized.

Charli Baltimore, a mother of two daughters expressed that teaching abstinence "is unrealistic at this point, I think it is more important that we teach our young, especially daughters to love themselves, and respect themselves, and protect themselves."

Kid Capri made one of the most profound statements of the night "five seconds of pleasure could really ruin your life."

Ja Rule had a message for the media, "I hope it's not just looking at all the artists coming out. I hope they're looking at the big picture and not just taking pictures."

Video: 2002

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