Please visit our new campaign, Help Brian's family tide over the month!
Help Brian's family tide over the month!
$180 raised
72% of $250 goal
6 contributors
0 days left
Ended Aug 28, 2018
I'm running this on behalf of my friend, Brian who is currently in Colorado Springs. His disability benefit payment not coming through this month has his family in the Philippines living without water, gas and electricity and facing eviction.

Hello, I am Priyank Kumar, running this fundraiser on behalf of my friend Brian Blassingame. Brian lives in Colorado Springs, is neurodivergent with Asperger's Syndrome and is going through homelessness to be able to provide for his family in the Philippines. Brian is an American citizen hailing from Fort Worth, Texas; he has worked as a Greenpeace canvasser and activist, an English instructor, ballot access petitioner and is an extremely talented bamboo craftsman and flute maker.

Current Situation:
Brian is currently stuck in the US away from his family who he has been supporting on his disability benefits. Brian returned to the US after losing his job in the Philippines during the 2008-09 crash on a repatriation loan from the government. Ever since his return to the US he has faced immense financial and social challenges in his day to day life and in providing for his family. Not least on account of how the neurodivergent are treated in our society. To make matters worse, a bureaucratic mess up has caused his disability benefit pay out for the current month to not come through. He has been trying to resolve the issue but the officials are moving at a snail's pace. The lack of funds has lead to his family falling behind on their bills enough that their water, gas and electricity supplies have been cut, worse they are facing eviction.

What will be the money used for?
The entire sum raised will go to Brian's family for rent and bills. All contributions will go to Brian's paypal account. If possible, any extra money raised will be used for food and necessary expenses till Brian gets his benefits sorted out.

Background on Brian's situation
This circumstances described above may raise questions in your mind as to the details like why Brian is stuck here? Why doesn't he bring his family over? What challenges is he facing in becoming financially stable? etc. The following account will provide you with clarity on the situation. Please bear with the length of this as his situation is particularly complicated and made worse by bureaucratic tangles.

Below  is his story in his own words:
"I have not been allowed to see my family face to face or hold them for over 7 years now. By way of introduction, they are my wife Sherelyn who goes by Sheng (pronounced shāng) for short and our two children Stanley (my stepson) and my daughter Lillian Inez. They are in the Philippines and I am trapped here in United States and not allowed to leave nor am I allowed to bring my family here. Here (in short) is our story... I lived in the Philippines for 6 years after going into voluntary exile in 2004 over Guantanamo, pointless wars, etc. which I felt I could not stay here without facilitating. During that time I met my wife Sheng, we fell in love, moved in together and had our daughter Lillian Inez. I call Sheng my wife because we are committed to stay together for life and we have a family together. However because I overstayed my visa when I became unable to pay immigration fees in order to stay with Sheng, this made me an 'undocumented alien' and therefore ineligible to marry under Philippine law. In 2009 like many people around the world I was laid off from my job (I was working teaching Maritime English to Eastern European and Russian Merchant Mariners, online for a German shipping company.) We were going hungry and facing homelessness so I had no choice but to go to the U.S. Embassy and take what is called a repatriation loan and return to the United States in February of 2010. When you take a repatriation loan from the U.S. Government they take your passport from you, punch holes in it and cancel it. Then they give you a new one that is good for about a week to travel back on. You cannot renew your passport until you repay the loan. Herein lies the trouble, because I was struggling to support two households (myself here and simultaneously my family in the Philippines as well) there was never anything left to give the government. I was therefore been unable to repay the (originally $900 +) loan within the first 6 months after I returned. After the loan became six months delinquent, it was given over to a collection agency and an absurd usury was added to the debt. The last time I looked at it (about two years into the process, so about 5 years ago) they had mushroomed it into an over $23,000 debt. I don't know what they claim I owe them now, maybe it is over a million dollars? That has left me trapped here in the United States on the opposite side of the world from my family, and my family without a husband and father. The second part of this problem is that the only way I could ever hope to afford to bring Sheng and the children here to the U.S. would be via a fiancée visa but you are required to have seen your fiancée face-to-face within 2 years and I have been stuck here for 7 years. I tried very hard for the first two years to find a co-sponsor for the fiancée visa but no one would help me. I have now found someone willing to be a co-sponsor but I have to see her face-to-face to even begin the fiancée visa process. Further adding to the confusion is the matter of my daughter Lillian Inez' citizenship. Because she is my daughter she has a right to be recognized as a United States citizen. However when I was in the Philippines, the U.S. Embassy (unlike in the cases of ALL other Americans I have known there) refused to work with me at all on the matter of my daughters' citizenship until I got her Philippine NSO (National Statistics Office) birth certificate. Since we didn't have the money to pay the bribes necessary to get this document quickly it took two years for my wife to be able to get Lillians' NSO birth certificate and by that time, I was back here in the United States. I immediately contacted the U.S. Department of State thinking that finally I would be able to get something done for my family. However they then informed me that they were unwilling to work with me anywhere on the face of the Earth, except for the United States Embassy at Manila to which they are preventing me from returning... I have been cut off at every turn. When I left the Philippines my daughter was one and a half years old, now she is 9 and I have missed her entire childhood. I cannot begin to describe to you the amount of pain involved in that fact for her and I both.

On top of this all, I am an aspie which is to say that I have Aspergers' Syndrome, a form of autism. (I hate saying 'I have' because it makes it sound like a disease!) I also have Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder which are common comorbidity factors with Asperger's. I am currently fighting for SSI and I am in the process awaiting the results of my appeal. In order to be able to afford to send money to my family and take care of them I have had to spend most of the last seven years homeless. I am currently homeless and sleeping in my car. I have been doing so since early December last year here in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Actually depending on how you define homeless, I've spent almost the entirety of the time since I returned to the United States that way, since with rare exceptions the only times I have been housed since returning to the United States has been upon occasion living in motels."

In closing, I would thank you greatly for taking the time to consider this appeal and reading this post. If you are able to contribute anything, it will be immensely helpful and appreciated. This spat of trouble has really made Brian's life that much worse, though he was already facing immense challenges and pain day to day before that. It's a small sum if we come together but it bears an immense implication for his family's well being. So, I would request you to consider contributing whatever amount you can and if you are not able to contribute financially you can still be a huge help by sharing this appeal with your friends and family.

Thank you. 



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