While gang culture fuels violence and intimidates victims, those who are groomed to become members are often seeking acceptance from a family they don’t have.
And one organisation understands the struggles that young people endure while trying to leave their criminal pasts behind but still wanting to feel like part of a brotherhood.
Homeboy Industries is the largest gang rehabilitation in the world, on a mission to provide training and support to former gang members and previously incarcerated individuals by helping them redirect their lives and become part of the community.
Their objective is to not only introduce men and women back into society, but also to help them heal from their complex trauma with therapy, mentorship, and education.
With nine social enterprises of their own – including a bakery, tailor services, and print shop – Homeboy Industries are able to help people develop skills for the outside world.
They also encourage tattoo removal of gang-related or offensive inkings so that people have a better change of re-entering civilisation with a second chance at life.
And what goes around comes around, as Homeboy Industries have just been served their weight in karma gold after being named winners of the 2020 Humanitarian Prize.
The prize, from the Hilton Foundation, means they will receive a jaw-dropping $2.5million (£1.9m) thanks to their extraordinary contributions toward alleviating human suffering.
This funding will now be funnelled into the business to continue helping current members and our future generations in years to come.
Father Gregory Boyle founded the organisation back in 1988 in the hope of improving the lives of former gang members in east Los Angeles.
It is perhaps his spirit that has seen the campaign go on to achieve such success, with his inspiring and empowering (and humorous!) talks amassing millions of views online.
Speaking about their recent glory, Boyle said: “All of us at Homeboy Industries are profoundly humbled by the Hilton Foundation’s recognition.
“Their validation of our work of 32 years strengthens our resolve… and helps us all to move past ‘survival of the fittest’ and allow the thriving of the nurtured.”
One ex gang member summed it up perfectly when he said: “We used to be worst enemies on the streets, now we’re family at Homeboys.”
For more info, get involved here: Homeboy Industries.