Escaping "Paradise"

Hello everyone! My name's Katie, and I have a friend that has recently turned 18 and is in desperate need of relocation. Due to a series of events that make up the greater part of her life (none that are any fault of her own, but her parents'), she is unable to do things such as test for her G.E.D., get a driver's license, or even search for any type of employment. Rachel (my friend), has opened up and told her story, in hopes that we can get her in a better situation sooner with the help of donations. 

I have opened up my home to Rachel, as where I live (Illinois) offers much more than Hawaii (where she lives). She can easily acquire a G.E.D here (more details on why she can't in Hawaii below), as well as her driver's license and a job. 

It's just getting her here that is the difficult part, as relocating is very expensive. We will greatly appreciate any and all support! Now without further ado, here is Rachel's story, which also includes the expenses of moving towards the end. 


Hi, everyone. My name is Rachel, and I am in something of a bad situation, which prevents me from getting a job or a GED unless I can move out. Recently, a friend of mine has offered to take me in until I can get my life together financially and educationally. This is where the need for help comes in. Travel expenses are costly, as is getting settled somewhere that’s four thousand miles away from where I’ve called home for the majority of my life.

My story starts with my parents, so I’d like to tell you a little bit about them before I dive deeper into the story. It begins with my parents’ deep paranoia, which started to get bad when they couldn't find employment in 2012 and started watching Alex Jones and listening to some other people, particularly on a radio show. They came to the conclusion that what these people said was right, and that the world was going to end, but that we would live through it to rebuild a new society. I was always reminded never to tell anyone anything about any of this, that if anyone heard, I would be taken away from them.

I can't count how many times I was told that the new society was up to me to build, and that it was on my shoulders. As a child, it terrified me. Any time the possibility of war came up, any time natural disasters occurred, they came to the conclusion “This is it. The world is ending. Time to refresh our survival plan!” And I would have to sit there and help them and suppress my emotions until I was alone, where I became either depressed, anxious, or disassociated.

From the time I was 12 to the time I was 16, I fully believed that this was inevitable. I was told at least once a week that the world is going to end, and I am still told that to this day. The only thing I had figured out was that I didn't want to survive it. It was only with the help, support, and encouragement of friends (and also my own dawning realizations) that I figured out that the world was not, in fact, going to end immediately, and that I had time to live.

In fifth grade, I was pulled out of school because my parents did not feel that I was receiving a good enough education (to their standards). I could not do subtraction mentally, and I had not memorized my multiplication tables. From this point on, my parents decided to homeschool me.

Mom didn’t use any type of accredited institution at any point during my schooling. In the eyes of the government, I have no education beyond the 5th grade.

By the time I had been brought up to my parents’ standards with learning, money was tight. They were both unemployed at the time, and were surviving off of savings. My parents opted out of using an accredited homeschooling program as they were expensive and out of the realm of what they could afford, and we still weren’t sure what type of curriculum suited me the best.

 As far as I know, no attempts were made on my parents’ part to reach out for financial aid or to get me a legitimized education (whether it was public, private, or homeschooling). To this day I don’t know why an attempt to seek financial aid or government assistance was not made. My best guess is it was because they are extremely paranoid with sharing any type of personal information, especially on the internet and with the government, including pictures, signatures, first and last names, even the general location of where we lived, let alone fingerprints or sharing information with a caseworker.

After a trial run with a free computer course that Mom had somehow gotten ahold of, she had me learn out of secondhand textbooks. They were from all sorts of curricula; Bob Jones University, Christian Light, Apologia. Nothing was registered with the publishers, and nothing was filed with the government. I didn't take standardized tests, or even end of year tests if the books didn't already provide them.

At twelve, I didn’t realize that any of this was out of the ordinary. My parents repeatedly told me that this was what was best for me. I had no friends, was cut off from any sort of social situation that they had no bearing on, and had no way to compare my experience to others. As far as I knew, this was a completely normal and acceptable way of homeschooling a child.

Hawaii’s Department of Education mandates that anyone taking a GED attend one semester of an accredited school that they can verify before you can even schedule the test. I’ve taken the practice tests and I gained passing grades on all of them. However, I have no way to fulfill this extra requirement.

I have no way to get a job, or my GED. My parents refuse to teach me to drive, and since we only have one car, I can't be transported to and from any sort of place of employment (the cost of public transportation in my area alone defeats the purpose of employment). I have no friends here, which leaves out asking them. I do not have reliable internet, which prevents me from finding work remotely (even if I could get hired without a high school diploma). My only option is to somehow get out of the state and move in with my friend, who is in a place where I can get a job and my GED; she is also willing to teach me to drive and help get my life going at long last.

There are several other factors that make it highly desirable for me to leave.

I live off grid. I have electricity maybe 5 hours in the evening and 2 hours in the day (we have a sketchy solar power/generator system). Part of the consequences of this is that we do not have a refrigerator or freezer. The only way we keep perishable food is by buying ice at the store and using a large cooler. We have a generator to run larger appliances like the water pump and toaster oven.

This also means that there is no climate control in our home more than a fan. In this climate, that is dangerous and puts humans at risk for heat exhaustion to heat stroke, with daily conditions of high humidity, little to no wind, and temperatures exceeding 88 degrees Fahrenheit for 7 months of the year.

A very local environmental hazard is Vog, which is an airborne hazard made up of sulphur dioxide, sulfuric acid, hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen chloride, and hydrogen fluoride, to name a few. There is no way to stop it from infiltrating the house. Symptoms are similar to that of a mild cold: scratchy throat, tightening of the airways, excessive sneezing and mucus production, watery eyes, and fatigue.

This is why I need help. My friend that has offered me shelter lives in Illinois- over 4,000 miles away. Relocating is expensive, and though she can afford to take me in, moving that distance, even with just a suitcase, is costly.

A one way economy plane ticket is in the $600 range. After that, things like furniture (a bed and a dresser, as well as sheets and blankets) are needed. There is also the cost of the GED test ($120), an Illinois state ID. There are also other monthly expenses I’ll need to pay, like rent ($200), food (estimated at another $200 a month), the cost of a public transportation pass ($120/mo), the drivers license fee once I learn how to drive ($40), or my phone bill ($45). I’ll be able to pay those monthly expenses once I get a job (and trust me, I'm not picky! I'm able bodied and eager to work in whatever opportunity I can!), but those initial costs add up fast. As I said, relocation is very costly (especially from Hawaii to Illinois), but this is really the only way I have to start my life.

This is why I need your support. I want to get a job. I want to get a great education. I want to live as independently as I can! But I can't do that here, and I can in Illinois.

Please, donate if you can. I will be so, so grateful. Every dollar helps. I would not be doing this if it was not absolutely necessary, but I have no other options.
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Katie Siebels 
Mt. Vernon, IL
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