A father who lost his son to gang violence a little over 20 years ago has made it his mission to prevent other young adults from becoming involved in violence.
Now two decades later, that father, who has since partnered with the murderer’s grandfather in the spirit of forgiveness, is celebrating the success of their joint mission that has evolved into the Tariq Khamisa Foundation.
The foundation will be marking its anniversary milestone with a "Celebration of Transformation" gala event on Saturday, Oct. 3 at the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Azim Khamisa has used his son’s death to push for change, awareness, education, forgiveness and hope. That push has been widely successful, according to the foundation. It’s reached 500,000 youth through its programs and millions worldwide.
Azim’s son, 20-year-old Tariq, was shot and killed by 14-year-old gang member Tony Hicks, while Tariq was working, delivering pizzas in North Park.
Azim reached out to Hicks’ grandfather Ples Felix in an act of reconciliation, and nine months later they formed the foundation to address youth violence nationwide.
The foundation aims to end the violence through education, mentoring and community service programs.
A study has shown the work of the TKF has had a big impact, as school disciplinary actions, suspensions and violent behavior dropped. Last year the San Diego Unified School District voted to incorporate the foundation into all of its schools.
The foundation says among the youth that have been introduced to the program since 1995, 97 percent are ethnic minorities, 89 percent have disciplinary problems and 74 percent have academic problems. Thirty-eight percent of those youth are chronically truant, and 32 percent have at least one incarcerated family member, according to the foundation.