Friday, May 16, 2008

"I saw victims on both ends of the gun...."

The amazing "TKF Story" began in San Diego, California on the tragic evening of January 21, 1995 when 20-year-old San Diego State University (SDSU) student Tariq Khamisa was shot and killed while delivering pizzas by a 14-year-old gang recruit. His assailant, Tony Hicks, fired the fatal bullet on orders from an 18-year-old gang leader.

The immediate response of Azim Khamisa, upon learning of his son's murder, was not the usual one of demanding revenge and retribution. Instead, he saw two of America's sons lost - one forever and one to the state prison system:

"From the onset, I saw victims on both ends of the gun. I will mourn Tariq's death for the rest of my life. Now, however, my grief has been transformed into a powerful commitment to change. Change is urgently needed in a society where children kill children."

To honor his son Tariq's life and find meaning in his death, Azim established the Tariq Khamisa Foundation (TKF) in October 1995. Remarkably, Azim Khamisa, an international businessman, reached out in forgiveness to Ples Felix, the grandfather and guardian of Tony Hicks, his son's assailant. Ples, a manager for the City of San Diego, joined with Azim in dedicating their lives to ending the plague of youth violence in our country. Together, Azim and Ples have spoken to tens of thousands of school children through TKF's Violence Impact Forum (VIF) program about the "power of forgiveness" to break the cycle of violence.

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