What's New? Update – April 22, 2003

Normally, this column contains information, suggestions, and resources. Today, I'm also going to make a request - a colleague suggested that it also constitutes an opportunity to help. Here is a copy of a letter that I recently sent out via email. I think it speaks for itself. Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

I want to tell you about someone, and then make a request.

When I was in Australia last year, I met a man named Ken Hampton. Ken is a 40-year-old Australian Aborigine who lives in the Central Australian town of Alice Springs. He is a counselor at an Aboriginal social service agency, an activist for the rights of indigenous people, a survivor, and a member of the Stolen Generations (for more information about the Stolen Generations, see the film Rabbit Proof Fence or look at the National Library of Australia’s web site, “Bringing Them Home Oral History Project” http://www.nla.gov.au/oh/bth/ ).

I spent quite a bit of time with Ken, in workshops, trainings, and socially with his wife Yvette and their three young sons Yarran, Murrandah and Amos. We did newspaper and radio interviews together, and he introduced me to his culture and the problems facing his people. I left Australia feeling mightily impressed by this man. I believe that he has the potential to become an important leader of his people. And I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Ken spoke with me about generations of abuse and violence inflicted upon his people, and his dedication to improving life for his “mob” (Aussie slang for group or people). In a recent e-mail, he wrote, “Australia’s Stolen Generations and adult male survivors of childhood sexual abuse is a bubble that’s about to burst!”

Here’s an excerpt from an e-mail message I received from Ken just before last Christmas:

“It’s hard to feel joy at this time of year, as a lot of my mob are coming into town from remote communities for festive drinking bouts. They turn up here at work telling about the abuse that still continues out bush. From babies to 60 year old women (they don’t live past that age) who have numerous sexually transmitted diseases. I mean babies with gonorrhea! It makes me so **** angry and sad. Many people are too scared to expose the abuse happening out there, from fear and threats to their lives.
Being such an ancient culture, we still have people out bush (rarely venturing into town) who think ‘whatever white man does must be ok because white man is god.’ This way of thinking was instilled in them when colonisation first occurred. We have non-indigenous bloodsuckers (and some indigenous ones too) who take car loads of alcohol and child pornography out to these communities...They even resort to murder if anyone out there objects or threatens to expose the abuse. The abuse of anyone is sickening, but every time I hear of (or see) blackfella abusing blackfella, I feel like a part of me has been cut out and ground into the dirt...
I have a lot to do, I know! I just hope I’m up to the challenge with my limited skill and experience...My people out here are literally dying as a result of prolonged abuse, and recovery wise, we haven’t even scratched the surface.”

After my return to the States, I contacted the Richard Gartner, the President of MaleSurvivor (formerly NOMSV, the National Organization on Male Sexual Victimization) and Peter Dimock, chairman of their 2003 Conference. I suggested that it would be wonderful to bring Ken to Minneapolis in September for this event. They agreed, and Ken agreed to come.
He will participate in a panel presentation called “Cultural Definitions, Meanings, Values, and Customs Associated with Sexual Abuse and the Impact on Male Survivors”. In addition to Ken, panelists will include survivors from Cuba, Canada’s First Nations people, and mental health workers from Nigeria and Bangladesh. Clearly, this will be an extraordinary event.
I’m sure you can see why I think it is important to bring Ken to the Conference, and to support his commitment to his people.
Here’s the problem. The MaleSurvivor organization can pay his expenses while he is in Minneapolis. However, they haven’t been able to subsidize his airfare from Australia (a considerable sum) or other travel expenses. Ken has been trying to get a grant for travel funding through sources in Australia, but there is no guarantee that it will be forthcoming.

MaleSurvivor has set up a travel fund for Ken, accepting TAX DEDUCTIBLE contributions. Ideally, I would like Ken to be able to do some additional traveling in the USA, Canada and Great Britain, meeting with other male survivors, activists, social service workers, and indigenous groups. This fund could help to provide that opportunity.

It is always difficult to ask people for money, especially during these hard economic times. The task is made somewhat easier because I’m not asking for myself - although I think we all will benefit. Nor am I only asking for money. I’m also hoping you will offer help and suggestions. If you know of others who might be interesting in supporting this project - or if you have fund-raising experience (I don’t) I welcome your help.

If you are willing and able to make a contribution - any amount will help - send a check (cheque) made out to: MaleSurvivor with a note that it is for The Ken Hampton Travel Fund. It should be sent to: Trisha Massa, c/o MaleSurvivor, 5505 Connecticut Avenue, NW #103, Washington, DC 20015.

If you prefer to pay by credit card (they can only accept VISA, Mastercard or Discover), send the usual credit card info: name as it appears on the card, billing address, card number and type, expiration date and the amount to charge and its purpose: The Ken Hampton Travel Fund.

If you have questions or wish to send your credit card info via e-mail or fax, here is the necessary information:
Fax: 212.865.7168
E-mail: YTAMassa@aol.com
Many thanks for any help you can provide.
All the best,
Mike Lew

P.S. On a separate (but not unrelated) topic, there is still some space available at our annual Men’s Recovery Weekend Workshop in Pennsylvania, May 9-11th. For further information, see our web site: http://www.victimsnolonger.org or contact Kirkridge Retreat and Study Center:
Telephone: 610-588-1793
E-mail: kirkridge@fast.net

Go to list of other old updates