Beneath my feet, a classroom of 20 students are being taught by a volunteer on how to deal with domestic violence.
They sit in a classroom that is located in a basement as I explore passageways above, decorated with carefully drawn hearts and outlines of hands that starkly contrast with the morose atmosphere an abused women and children's shelter would have.
But that's exactly what The Family Assistance Program of Victorville, CA strives to do. Without the bars over the front doors and self help pamphlets, one would almost imagine the place to be a daycare.
On one end is a chalkboard covered in art as drawn by the kids in the facility:
It's beautiful. Covered in spite, yes, and adorned with messages like, "Brandon is Ugly" and "F*** my life" but you can't help but notice the nicer ones stand out, too. "This is the Family," hearts, and "Congratulations Trina!" are just a few to name.
"We're trying to make this a safe place for the kids to be. We're trying to make it a homework help center, a counseling office, a career aid, and shelter for women and their children. We're trying to make this a place to call home" an employee told me as I wandered into a small living room with board games and paper mache balloon masks.
It's truly incredible how these kids can take the darkness and horror in their lives and make it into the art on the walls, ceilings, and blackboards.
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