My name is Ashley Roach. I am a 28 year old native New Yorker. Although I was raised in a caribbean cultured household, the “ Jewel of Jamaica”, Queens Rochdale Village, was my biggest influence. I grew up in an environment where the surrounding culture was one of drugs, chicken, and beer with limited resources and education
At a birds eye view this would appear to be a remedy for a disaster- a breeding ground for developmental issues or extreme resilience. Little did I know this environment was just a fraction of a much bigger issue.
As I began to grow and experience I came to the realization that this “familiar” dynamic was not only a New York issue, but a global one.
In August 2017 I traveled to Central America, Belize and witnessed the beauty of the other side of the Americas. The fertile lands and ancient waters were a sight to behold. I climbed the pyramids of ATHUN-HA, and sailed the rivers of Jaguar Paw. Among the beauty I also witnessed the lack of opportunity and high crime. It reminded me of home on a different scale. At this moment I became humbled, realizing that my status as a US CITIZEN granted me certain rights and financial pillows others do not have access to.
Section 8, welfare and food stamps were a social norm in my community; a household staple if you will. However, the trip to Belize exposed that this assistance was non-existent in other areas of the world; resulting in a level of struggle and poverty unbeknownst to me. A major shift happened to me upon my return back home. That experience changed my vision from one of disgust , to one of focus and opportunity. In essence I developed what Haile Selassie regarded in his statement to the V.O.E, as a “world community” perception- we are one. However with lack of direction it’s safe to say I was a rebel without a cause until March 10, 2018.
March 10, 2018, I was on facebook doing my usual scrolling when I stumbled across an article reporting the economic crisis in Venezuela.The more I read, the more astonished I became at the lack of media coverage. At that moment the rebel recognized her cause. As I watched young infants and children die of malnutrition, and the anguish on their mothers’ faces- I no longer saw Venezuela, I saw a pain that every nation could relate to. A concept of “their doorstep today, my doorstep tomorrow,” immediately created a fire within me that gave birth to STRETCHING HANDS INC.
STRETCHING HANDS INC. is a federally tax exempt 501C3 not for profit organization. Our mission is to respond to crisis globally through strategic planning, analyzing, and global networking. We are a charitable organization that is geared toward developing international bonds to solve the food insecurities in urban communities; and create social reform on a global level. Our mission is to engage in humanitarian efforts that will have a positive impact nationally and internationally in the lives of people stricken by crisis.
Our goal is to liberate, educate, and rise above systematic hardships prevailing in our global communities. These hardships have proven time and time to be a great hindrance to our communal development – with disregard to the marginalization that has contributed to the social and economic disenfranchisement on a global scale. It is imperative for us to respond to the ills of the world, which if unchecked may shift from their doorstep today, to our doorstep tomorrow.
In closing, this is not a story of pity or sorrow, nor is it a tale to pull heart strings for donations. This is a solicitation to the people of the world to fulfill their earthly duty to one another as inhabitants of this one planet; regardless of the residing regions
Ashley M. Roache