Tough Angels, Inc. is a non-profit organization based in Colorado, USA, under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Our mission is the prevention of rapes against women and
children in developing countries.
Vision: We engage and empower community mobilization to protect women and children from rape. By providing curriculum and training to community members and leaders, greater understanding about HIV/AIDS and its prevention is built on a local level. We create supportive and respectful forums, which facilitate discussions to educate men and women on the dire need to choose consensual sex. We support survivors in safety, restoring dignity, hope, and healing through expressive therapeutic methods, including art, music, writing, and dance. Through community awareness and education, the social fabric becomes strengthened, informed, and better equipped to protect their own.
About the founder
“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”
– Ryunosuke Satoro
Tough Angels emerged after Patricia Melnice volunteered for six months in South Africa alongside an organization that rescued children who had been raped. She began sending journal updates about her experiences to several friends. One of them posted the updates on a blog, which became the emergence of the Tough Angels website you are viewing now.
Patricia quit her much-loved job as a visual stylist with Neiman Marcus, put her belongings in storage, and traveled alone to Africa in 2009. Her writings can be viewed on the Journal page. During this first trip, she assisted on the front lines in any way that was called upon. From point of rescue to the final court proceedings, Patricia worked extensively with the child victims, the police, Child Protective Services, the hospitals and the judicial system to address what has become an epidemic problem in Africa.
The youngest recipient of care was a four-month old infant that eventually died from her rape injuries. Many of these atrocities can be blamed on a tribal myth that expects a cure and/or purification from AIDS can be obtained by having sex with a virgin child.
While the rape cases Patricia worked on were incomprehensible and savagely painful, she was awed by the capacity of these women and children to still see beauty and grace in a world that had seemingly slighted them in so many ways. She discovered their ability to love, laugh, and live in a state of honor and appreciation for their existence was extraordinary given their lifetimes of slavery, poverty, and oppression. Their praise for the sky, the air they breathe, and the reverent sisterhood they clung to between each other teaches a powerful lesson about gratitude and the strength and courage available when we are linked. These women and children were Tough Angels, courageously strong and inspiring. Patricia tried to capture what she witnessed in the photographs which you can view throughout the Tough Angels site and Gallery.
Prior to Tough Angels and for more than 30 years, Patricia has been actively involved with organizations focused on issues concerning the well-being, protection and empowerment of women and children. While Patricia is a graduate from the Art Institute with a degree in fashion, her professional background has largely been in Emergency Services, which began at age 16, dispatching for the local police and State Patrol. This launched countless pathways in which to function in emergency situations including: working for a major metropolitan fire department, being appointed to the Command Post for disaster relief and the relocation of Hurricane Katrina victims in Colorado, and completing a six month tour of duty on the Antarctica Fire Department in the Communication’s Center which supports the National Science Foundation. Patricia played an integral role in the development of the Fire Academy at Red Rocks Community College and subsequently became an instructor in the Fire Science program. Melnice was a trained volunteer with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) where she advocated for children in court. In addition, she has earned the title of “Cuddler”, a volunteer position in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Presbyterian/St. Lukes Hospital.
A message from Patty
Consider yourself personally invited to explore the photos and words on our website. I hope they will inspire you to learn more, to see the beauty which can take place in the face of suffering, and urge you to participate.
I don’t claim to have all the answers but I do know once you’ve witnessed the horrors that women and children endure, it’s impossible to ‘un-see’ them or pretend they’re going to be OK and survive the brutality. An effort to effect positive change doesn’t require a 6-month stay in a developing country, working in the trenches. We can all make a difference today in our own communities, right outside our backdoor with kindness, compassion, respect for others, and the absolute obligation we all have to protect children. This is not an heroic act, it is our responsibility as human beings and to life.
Your inquires are welcome and embraced. Please contact me directly at Patty@ToughAngels.org