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Sarah Block

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Sarah Block (sblock)

  • Email: sarah@ayuda.com
  • Nice Name: sblock
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  • Registered On :2015-05-22 23:16:31
  • Logged in at: sblock
  • Author ID: 4

Author Posts

Visual Artist, former Ayuda client

Milagros Pongo is a Paraguayan-Peruvian artist, journalist, and décor and advertising specialist. She exhibits her art worldwide. From 1994 to 2004 she exhibited in Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil. Since 2004, she has exhibited in Italy, Peru, Belgium, Spain, South Africa, France, South Korea, and the United States.

“Painting for me is the best escape without leaving my house, a way to convey my projects and project my hopes on canvas.

Hestia Ma’at is my artistic expression of how grateful I am for my experiences living in Virginia for the past four years. I am a single mother and survivor of domestic violence. By relying on my beliefs in the four systems of heaven, space, motherhood, and love, I have grown stronger and am more sensitive, empathic and charitable to others. I have discovered angels in the family and friends who have helped me along the way. I am able to move forward in my life and my care, planning to begin a new phase, starting over, being better in Sarasota, Florida.”

Executive Vice President, BB&T

Luis Lobo serves as the executive vice president and manager of multicultural banking for BB&T. His 33-year career has involved most facets of commercial, retail, mortgage and international banking in the past 28 years. He has served in 11 distinct markets throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and D.C., all with BB&T.
Nationally he served as chairman of the Board of Advisors of the American Bankers Association Stonier Graduate School of Banking. He is a member of the ABA Community Engagement Council and Foundation and of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Senior Corporate Advisory Board. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Novant Health in North Carolina.

Luis Lobo lectures extensively at colleges, universities and financial industry forums across the U.S. on “Change Management,” “Leadership,” and “Sales Culture.” He has been featured on NPR’s Marketplace and national and regional publications. James and Brookfield of Atlanta published his first book, It IS Your Attitude, in 2004.

A native of Costa Rica, he was raised in Lincolnton, N.C. Mr. Lobo received a double major in economics and business administration in 1983 from Belmont Abbey College in the Charlotte area. He earned an MBA from Campbell University at Buies Creeks, North Carolina.

Correspondent, NPR News

Tom Gjelten covers issues of religion, faith, and belief for NPR News, a beat that encompasses such areas as the changing religious landscape in America, the formation of personal identity, the role of religion in politics, and social and cultural conflict arising from religious differences. His reporting draws on his many years covering national and international news from posts in Washington and around the world.

In 1986, Mr. Gjelten became one of NPR’s pioneer foreign correspondents, posted first in Latin America and then in Central Europe. In the years that followed, he covered the wars in Central America, social and political strife in South America, the first Gulf War, the wars in the former Yugoslavia, and the transitions to democracy in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Tom Gjelten’s latest book is A Nation of Nations: A Great American Immigration Story, published in 2015.

Interested in representing victims of notario/legal services fraud, who lose time, money, and sometimes immigration status because of a non-attorney’s actions?

If so, Ayuda welcomes attorneys to a PRO BONO TRAINING: Seeking Justice for DC, MD & VA Immigrant Victims of Notario/Legal Services Fraud.

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015 9:00 am – 12:00 pm at Bryan Cave LLP 1155 F St. NW – 7th Floor Washington, DC 20004

Registration: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/7XJNZ63

Pro Bono Training

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3oB86JCoq9U[/embed]
Women posing next to a tree

By: Clarissa Arevalo, Domestic Violence Staff Attorney

 Annette and her children came to Washington D.C. when her husband – a member of the military of a country in central Africa – was posted to the embassy. Already a violent man, he became even more violent in the United States, but he was protected from prosecution by diplomatic immunity. Ayuda’s Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault team was able to help where the police could not. First, after a contentious trial, we secured a civil protective order (“restraining order”) for Annette and her children. Later, Ayuda handled Annette’s divorce and custody case.

The violence had escalated to the point where, on one occasion, Annette’s husband smashed her head into a heater and threw her across the room. Annette was certain he was going to kill her. Their daughter called the police, but they could do nothing because of his diplomatic status. Fortunately, the next time the police were called, an officer suggested that Annette talk to an organization like Ayuda about getting a protective order.

The trial was difficult, but Annette was brave, and her Ayuda attorney was fearless. And in the end, she won both the protective order and the eventual divorce! Asked how her life has changed, Annette said, “I have never been as happy and free as I am now. And my children are so happy because our home is safe and peaceful. I am so glad I met with the staff at Ayuda!”

Attorney Rwanda Campbell provides pro bono service and helps Estella rebuild her life.

Arnold & Porter’s Rwanda N. Campbell has been a pro bono attorney with Ayuda for three years, representing clients seeking U Visas, which helps undocumented victims of crime gain legal status in the United States through their cooperation with law enforcement. Her first client is Estella from Ecuador, whose boyfriend nearly killed her. Campbell helped Estella escape the violence and rebuild her life: “Ayuda has allowed attorneys to connect with these strong and brave women who persevere through hardship for a better life.”

In 2012, I attended a pro bono immigration training session at Arnold & Porter led by Ayuda. The training focused on the U Visa process. Within a few months, I met with my first U visa client, Estella.

Estella was shy, with a quiet demeanor. She smiled often, but her eyes were filled with sadness. Over the course of several meetings, we often cried together as she told in detail the journey of her life, which led her to bravely travel to the United States from her native Ecuador in order to seek a better life for her three young children she had to leave behind with family.

While working, Estella met a man who would later become her abuser. Initially the relationship was wonderful as he supported and provided for all of her needs. Things quickly deteriorated when the physical violence towards her became a daily occurrence. Estella hoped things would change after having their first child, but the violence continued throughout her second pregnancy and well afterwards. An escalation of violence one night led to Estella’s two-night stay in the hospital after her boyfriend attempted to kill her. This final incident provided Estella with a newfound determination to escape from this horrific situation.

With the help of Ayuda, Estella successfully filed charges against her abuser, and testified against him at trial. Her cooperation with law enforcement allowed me to file a U Visa application for Estella and her children. We are still waiting on the approval of her U Visa, but have since received Estella’s work permit, which has opened up a whole new world for Estella and her family. Thanks to Ayuda, there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel for Estella.

The partnership that Arnold & Porter has with Ayuda has allowed many attorneys to help and connect with these strong and brave women who persevere through hardship for a better life. The experience is both beneficial and enriching to all parties involved. I am thankful for these life changing work opportunities provided by organizations like Ayuda.

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By Kayleen Hartman, Immigration Staff Attorney

Jose left El Salvador in 1986 during the civil war after a few of his friends were murdered. He moved to the United States – initially sleeping on the streets – but over time, building a new life. Jose worked hard, got married and settled into the community.

Last year, the woman who cared for Jose’s elderly mother back in El Salvador called Jose. She didn’t know where else to turn.
Her 16-year-old son, William, had fled gang violence in El Salvador and was in immigration detention in the United States. The authorities would release William, but only if he had an official custodian with whom he could live.

“We had never had children of our own,” Jose reflected. “I was afraid of bringing a child into a world full of violence.” Having only seen pictures of William, and barely knowing William’s mother, Jose agreed to care for him as if he were his own child. “I understand violence. I know what it feels like to think that no one can help you – that no one will help you,” he said.

An Ayuda immigration attorney sprang into gear, helping Jose and William to work out all of the legal details. In May, William was granted “Special Immigrant Juvenile Status” and has begun the process of applying for legal permanent residence.
“I tell William that this is a country of opportunity. If you work hard and behave, you can succeed,” Jose said. “William is doing great. He is doing well in school and making friends. He even helps out around the house. He is just a good kid.”

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