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Rachel and GraceRachel Perry is a Baha’i living in London, Ontario. She is raising her daughter independently. She is a full time educator for children. She also owns and operates a marketing and promotion business as well as a non-profit organization which supports the empowerment, education, and employment of women and children in recovery from various forms of oppression. The not-for-profit services include providing Reiki, Body Talk and Dreamwork sessions as well as distributing basic day-to-day needs such as food, and clothing.

Rachel Perry has been a long-time supporter and friend of Susan Gammage. After first meeting her as a participant of a study circle, the dynamic scope of their relationship has also included times when Susan provided life coaching services for Rachel and in exchange Rachel provided marketing and promotion coaching services for Susan. Rachel can be thanked for being one of the first ones to see the potential in Susan’s brand new life coaching business in 2009. With encouragement and support through crisis and victory the new venture has now emerged into what we see online today. For example, when Rachel was on pilgrimage in 2011, she gave Susan the idea for an online database for her website featuring Baha’i quotes, stories and prayers. This is just one example of the many ways in which Rachel and Susan collaborated successfully in a mutual endeavor to create positive environments for larger and larger numbers of individuals to gain easy access to the Writings of the Baha’i Faith.

Perhaps one of the most significant collaborative efforts between the two, was in 1999 when, with the encouragement from Susan, Rachel asked the Universal House of Justice to consider removing the rights of parenthood from her father in order to free her from the obligation to ask his permission to get married. The Universal House of Justice and Local Spiritual Assembly investigated the request and granted the removal of this obligation due to the negative nature of the home environment which Rachel was raised in, which was described by the Universal House of Justice as abusive. This decision has had a long-lasting effect on Rachel, her family, five Local Spiritual Assemblies who were directly involved in the situation and 16 communities who were directly or indirectly involved during the past  four decades.

Although Susan is no longer directly connected to the situation, or actively working to support women who have been abused, her book “Violence and Abuse; Reasons and Remedies” is one of the most comprehensive collections of quotes on abuse from a Baha’i perspective in print today. Rachel’s life experience, and the public discourse on her “family situation” so very different from Susan’s in that Rachel was born and raised in a Baha’i family, has created a framework for transformation which takes the concepts placed in Susan’s book to the next level of application with a focus not only on understanding the reasons and remedies for an imbalance of power in society but also to include an active process for growth, recovery and transformation to realize the full potential of an individual who has experienced past traumatic experiences and has learned, through trial and error, how to use their own strength to overcome their own greatest weakness.

In this way, Rachel is now able to talk about “Cycles of Joy” which is a pattern of prosperity and happiness which has emerged from her learning to understand the nature of the oppressive conditions she was raised in within the home, the socio-economic environment in which her home and family were placed and the views held by society (including the larger community and the Baha’i community as well).

For the past 15 years Rachel has run neighbourhood children’s and youth classes from her home as a part of an international community development initiative. Her personal motivation in commitment to education and empowerment at the neighbourhood level comes from her own internal passion for being an agent of change for children who do not have the voice or the power to create change for themselves. Her intention is to create positive environments at the level of the neighbourhood which introduce children, from an early age, to concepts and ideas which will give them courage, enthusiasm, trust and confidence to be true to themselves and to use their innate gifts and capacities as they grow into maturity to be a part of the betterment and advancement of the world, even if it begins in a run-down and not-too-pretty looking “low-income” neighbourhood.

What makes the Baha’i concept of transformation from powerlessness to might, or from poverty to wealth, or from weakness to strength is the deep and profound idea of Forgiveness, Compassion, and Grace. Without these qualities, too often in the past individuals who have experienced oppression tended to identify themselves with the idea of “victim” and harbor deep anger and resentment towards those who were perceived as the “oppressors”.  Feelings of jealousy may also emerge as one strives to achieve something that they perceive others have achieved and they have somehow been excluded.

Taking “Violence and Abuse; Reasons and Remedies” to the next level of recovery means finding positive application in the day-to-day life experience which allow for the positive development and growth of the unique traits and abilities of the individual. In this way, deep Acceptance is found alongside Forgiveness, Compassion and Grace. There is no longer any identification with the “victim/oppressor” story and instead all can be regarded as being on an enlightened continuum towards knowing one’s Creator and serving humanity to the best of one’s abilities given their innate capacities and the life environment in which they live. Every “victim” has also been an “oppressor” at one time or another, whether intentionally or unintentionally…and every “oppressor” has also been a “victim” intentionally or unintentionally. When we are strong enough as individuals, families, and communities to be able to look at the darkest sides of our human nature as well as our brightest sides, then we advance as a society in our abilities to establish and maintain a peaceful condition of mutual growth and well-being that we all long for and desire.

While transformation and growth is life long and there are still many mountains to climb, Rachel has come to a place where she can easily engage with others in a conversation about the effects of generational abuse dating back to the time of Hitler and the effects it had on her her family, herself, and her community. She is finding many opportunities to speak with large and small groups in school, community, and neighbourhood settings to offer a broader perspective to the concept of recovery – one that includes not just a new framework for growth and change but also a re-writing of the language itself which describes the conditions of oppression which individuals of all classes of society experience.

Her focus for the past 15 years, and going forward, is on developing her international marketing business which will in large part fund the community-based non-profit. This is a unique social agency the likes of which no one has seen before this.

In the meantime, even while Rachel’s business is advancing and growing in notable ways, she is still recovering financially as a result of her personal life circumstances in the past. Even though she is working full time and is responsible with her income, still, on March 12, 2015, she had $2 in her bank account. She has no savings. She has no credit card. She has no assets. She has no contact with her family (by their choice) as a result of the before mentioned situation with the Universal House of Justice. Therefore it is only with creativity, patience and faith that Rachel has been able to recover financially from past economic oppressive conditions and create positive financial experiences going forward.

She is transparent about her personal financial recovery so as to eliminate any potential mis-givings about her motives and actions. Her long-standing belief has been that “the solution to financial hardship is growth” and so at the same time that she has been nursing this financial wound she has also been growing as an individual, as a mother, as a neighbour, and as someone serving on an Institution of the Baha’i Faith.

There is an intricately linked connection between abuse of power within a home which includes oppressive financial conditions. There can be nothing which can be perceived as causing a greater limitation than having financial limitations.

However, Rachel has recovered from financial oppression a number of times and has now decided to be transparent about the process so that as she continues to recover this time around it is a transparent experience which includes a large number of supporters, advocates, and fellow bringers of peace.

Opportunities to participate in this on-going project (financially or otherwise) are emerging and more information can be reached by contacting Rachel at rperry1863 @gmail.com.