With over 50,000 asylum applications to the United States filed each year, and only 126 immigration judges throughout the country, we face an overburdened immigration system. For the subset of asylum seekers who are survivors of torture, a 3-year average wait time for their applications to be processed strips them of potential for human dignity and mental health improvement.
The Asylum Solution @ Dirt Therapy Farm is a social enterprise created to address the healthcare access barriers faced by torture survivors seeking asylum. Because asylum seekers, unlike refugees, are often legally prohibited from seeking employment, they are unable to access health and legal services, which aggravates the physical and mental health condition of torture survivors.
Dirt Therapy projects to be a community-support agriculture farm where asylum-seeking torture survivors can benefit not only from the therapy of growing things, but also from the sales of their produce through free access to health and legal services on site.
Clients will farm communally under the guidance of a farm manager, and benefit from community, while the produce is sold and revenue is invested back into operational costs of providing comprehensive mental health and legal services.
Miami has a substantial population of torture survivors seeking asylum here, primarily from Colombia and Venezuela, but also, most recently, coming from Syria. This population is still invisible in many ways, and my project aims to raise awareness and integrate them here.
I currently have a site donated for AS@DT by Little River, in addition to partnerships with attorneys from VIDA and private practices, who have agreed to donate pro-bono hours to my clients' complex case needs. I am in the process of writing an MoU with the Florida Center for Survivors of Torture, for them to refer clients to me, and to aid Asylum Solution with administrative procedures.
AS@DT will start with a pilot, backed by Awesome Foundation!
Funded by Miami, FL (March 2014)