We recently sat with Amba Johnson, director of DreamCatcher Youth Services.
She discussed her challenges in helping run the only safe landing for homeless
and disconnected at-risk youth in Alameda County who are between the ages of
13-18. She told us that not only do these homeless teens get approached by
traffickers within the first 48 hours on the street, but a lot of them also come
through their door already exploited and trying to escape that life.
But, where do you start with someone who has been so betrayed by everyone
they know, and that they feel the need to run to strangers for help? This is the
seemingly impossible fight for DreamCatcher: they are competing with pimps and
other abusers who have distorted what it means to be loved in the minds of these
frightened kids. The idea of love has been twisted to be used for someone’s
else’s gain. And this is the fight they’ve been in for the last 18 + years.
Leading up to this meeting, we put on an event last spring in 2017, at Grace
Cathedral in SF. Amazing artists like ZionI, Lateef the Truth Speaker, Kev
Choice, and more lent their talents to perform at this event and raise funds and
awareness to fight child trafficking. It was an incredible event, not only for the
cause, support, and talent. It was amazing because the band that backed these
artists was compiled of the Oakland Youth Choir (OYC), and the Oakland School
of the Arts (OSA). These were high school kids, performing at an event to
fundraise for their peers. An EP was recorded and filmed at 25th street studios
with each artist involved (Gift of Gab, Zion I, Kev Choice, Foxtails Brigade, Lateef
the Truth Speaker, JEL from Anticon, Kafeer Jay) all backed by the students from
OSA and OYC. In compiling this record, and speaking with Amba, we knew we
had to dedicate it to DreamCatcher, and use it to raise funds and awareness for
them as well as the homeless teen epidemic in Oakland.