A Tribute to the Tariq Khamisa Foundation
I still remember the night in the Mammoth Mountains where I had the inspiration.
I had gone there three months after Tariq’s tragic death to figure out how and why I would live the rest of my life without my son. My mind kept returning to the sage advice of my spiritual teacher and of my Sufi Ismaili tradition, which stated there would be 40 days of grieving and prayers after a passing of a loved one.
I was told, “Azim, today ends the grieving period. When a loved one passes his soul remains in close proximity of his family and loved ones during the 40-day grieving period. After the 40 days his soul moves to a new consciousness in preparation of his forward journey. Tariq’s purpose on this life is complete. Yours is not. Tariq is in a better place than you are, so you are not grieving for him. You are grieving for you. Excessive grieving after the 40 days impedes his journey in the next world. My recommendation is to do a good deed in his name. Good deeds done in his name are spiritual currency and will provide high octane fuel for his forward journey.”
Like a broken record, this advice kept playing in my head. Spiritual currency … high-octane fuel … impeding my son’s journey…
The thought that came to me in the mountains of Mammoth: what if I started a nonprofit foundation in Tariq’s name, in order to perform good compassionate deeds? I considered how we could create millions of dollars of spiritual currency so Tariq could finish his journey in the new world as if in a booster rocket! That felt so good to me, and the idea to start the Tariq Khamisa Foundation was born. Upon my return from the mountains, I launched TKF with some of my friends nine months after Tariq’s passing.
Before this time, I had lost the will to live and all the energy in my body. The decision to create spiritual currency for my son brought a renewed zest for life and new energy to go out there and do good deeds.
- TKF conducts a “Safe School Model” with continuum of services to address youth violence prevention
- Currently offers programs in 12 San Diego County Middle Schools serving 8,000 youth annually
- $1.5 million dollar budget funded through grants, gifts and donations
- Evaluation results found TKF reduced school incidents of student misconduct by 64%
- TKF builds character and teaches youth accountability and healthy choices
After 17 years, this desire to provide high-octane fuel for Tariq’s journey still gets me fired up to do the work with the Tariq Khamisa Foundation. What I started in my home office with a beginning capital of $8,000 has become an organization with 40-plus employees, touching the lives of millions – children, youth and adults all over the world. I had no clue that I had the strength or the training to do the work we do so well at TKF. It started with the passion to create spiritual currency for Tariq. Now, TKF is a leading-edge organization that has created a safe-school model where violent, dangerous and unsafe campuses are being turned into safe and gang-free campuses where students are thriving.
This all started with a simple premise: “Violence is a learned behavior – no child was born violent. It then follows that nonviolence can also be a learned behavior.”
Because schools do not have time to teach the principles of nonviolence and peacemaking (with limited eight hours of curriculum packed into six hours of class time), TKF has taken over this task and created a safe-school model that is producing exemplary results. (See LINK for results.)
As evidenced, TKF is creating nonviolent leaders committed to bringing peace to the planet rather than following a life of gangs, drugs, weapons and violence. The cost of all TKF’s programs is $150 per youth every year. (Compare this to the $200,000 per year incarcerating one youth). We spend $10,000 a year to provide free public education to each youth.
The exciting news is that if TKF is able to convince the Department of Education to spend another $150 per youth TKF can be on every campus nationally making a difference. We are on our way to make that happen. The next milestone is to become a “best practice.” At this time we will have a compelling argument for the DOE to expand TKF’s work nationally. Funding is normally the biggest challenge. TKF is totally supported by donations as well as private and public grants. The economy has been brutal as many of us are affected by it. TKF does not charge for programs as TKF’s focus is on inner city schools which often don’t have the resources for basic needs.
Gang violence is the second biggest reason we lose young souls. It does not have to be this way! TKF has a viable solution. You can help. (See Donation Impact). TKF needs to continue working towards becoming a “best practice,” and we need your assistance to get there. I do hope that you will continue to support TKF’s work as well as share this good news with your sphere of influence. It does not have to be your child that dies as a result of violence – when a child dies in any community we are all diminished. I never though this would happen to me … but it did! God forbid it happens to any one of you.
My heartfelt gratitude goes out to all the TKF staff and Board Members for their continued hard work and to you supporters and donors. A very special thank you to my partner Ples Felix, the grandfather of the young man who took Tariq’s life. A heartfelt thank you to you Ples my brother and good friend.
We would NOT be here without any of you. All of you are in my heart, thoughts and prayers!
Azim N. Khamisa
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