Help the Daughters of a Deceased Learning Life Participant
On June 1 this year, Learning Life participant and single father, Adrian Winslow, died of a heroine overdose in Washington DC, leaving behind his mother, Susan (Adrian was her only child), his wife, now widow, Alvina, daughters Kaliah and Samya Curtis, an older son Kallil, and Kallil’s own son, Adrian.
For about 7 years, from 2016 to 2022, through Learning Life, I worked directly then indirectly with Adrian and his two daughters as we ran a small International Mentoring Program (ended in 2022) and our growing Family Diplomacy Initiative (FDI) to help lower-income families in Washington DC’s economically poorest wards — Wards 7 and 8, east of the Anacostia River — learn about the wider world through foreign festivals, potlucks, restaurants, readings, and other activities in DC, plus live dialogues online with families abroad in El Salvador, Senegal and Jordan.
Starting in 2020, the same year the Covid pandemic began, I gradually lost touch with Adrian, Alvina, Samya and Kaliah as Learning Life shifted its focus more toward scaling up our Family Diplomacy Initiative online internationally, and phasing out our harder-to-scale mentoring program.
Then, on June 3, as I was preparing for a Learning Life event in DC, I got a call from Alvina. Through tears so strong I could barely understand her, Alvina informed me that Adrian had died, in her presence, after she pleaded with him not to take the heroine.
Adrian was a good person. He joked and laughed a lot, bringing humor to his family’s chronically grim surroundings in SE DC. At a young age, before he took addictive drugs, Adrian proved a talented dancer, which helped give him the opportunity to tour internationally with a DC dance group in Paris, Moscow and Accra. Years later, in 2016, that international experience stimulated his interest in our programming, and giving his own daughters an international experience.
We (Learning Life volunteers) did our best to provide enriching educational experiences for Adrian and his daughters, and Adrian participated often with his daughters. But we could not alone change the difficult circumstances in which Adrian and his family lived, including the ready availability of drug dealers eager to profit from and prey on others’ past or present addictions, nor the more serious, widespread and systemic problem of residential segregation, wherein some people are lucky enough to be born into neighborhoods with concentrated advantages (from households with higher education, income and wealth, lower crime rates and more volunteerism, to better equipped schools and libraries, to more supermarkets, parks and mature trees that produce oxygen and cool temperatures), while others are unlucky enough to be born into the opposite: concentrated disadvantage.
Learning Life can’t alone change that root problem of residential segregation. That typically “takes a village,” including the public will, and concerted, coalition effort over years. However, Learning Life can alone connect those born unlucky to opportunities, and that’s one of the things we do through our growing learning communities.
On Friday, June 23, I attended Adrian’s funeral. There I met Adrian’s mom, Susan, his son Kallil, and his wife and son, and reconnected with Alvina, Samya and Kaliah. As we reconnected, I asked Kaliah and Samya what they could use help with. Kaliah told me, with poise, in her characteristically soft voice, that she would like to run track, but her school doesn’t offer track. Samya reported she’s working to get her real estate license, so the thought of having a mentor in that field excited her. And so, I’m asking you, as someone connected to Learning Life, and if you know people in or near Washington DC, whether you can recommend individuals who might be able to help Kaliah find a running group, and Samya a real estate agent willing to mentor her. It is not necessary, but would be great if these individuals you know live in Virginia, Maryland or DC close to Ward 8, in southeast DC, where Kaliah and Samya live with their grandmother.
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any contacts. Thank you in advance for your help.
Founder & Director
P.S. Attached below are, in order in which they appear, photos of: (1) a live international FDI family dialogue we ran in 2016 including Adrian, Samya, Kaliah, another DC family, and a family online in Senegal, (2) Adrian and his daughters Samya and Kaliah around 2017, and (3) Samya and Kaliah in 2023.