November 27, 2007
43-year-old Jorge Muñoz’s sister, Luz, says his brother has “got no life.” But what Luz really means by that comment is that Jorge’s life is dedicated to serving others, leaving little time to indulge in for himself.
The people he serves are undocumented immigrants — often homeless and always hungry — who seek jobs on the cold streets in Queens every morning. Folks in whom he likely sees himself only a few years ago reflected in.
Muñoz drives to the same location every night in his white pickup truck at 9:30 p.m. to feed these individuals in desperate states with a warm meal.
“Every single night, Jorge is here,” said one worker, his leathery face peering out from a hooded sweatshirt. “Doesn’t matter. Rain, thunderstorm, lightning. He do that from his good will, you know.
“He feeds everybody, make the stomach happy,” the worker added. “He’s an angel.” (NYT)
Ms. Zapata, Muñoz’s mother with whom he prepares the meal everyday in the small apartment they live in, said that his son displayed this altruistic trait since he was very young. She cites a time when Muñoz was only 7 and a stranger requested the family something to eat.
Ms. Zapata told the visitor they had none. “But Jorge gave him his plate,” she recalled. “I said, ‘Jorge, you have to eat for school.’ And he said, ‘No, I’ll just have bread.’”
Although his devotion to the welfare of others might seem selfish at the superficial, Muñoz claims he gets compensated more than appropriately with gratitude.
“I know these people are waiting for me,” he said. “And I worry about them. You have to see their smile, man. That’s the way I get paid.”
November 18, 2007
“I have never seen such a catastrophe in my 20 years as a government administrator,” said Harisprasad Pal, a local official in the hard-hit southern district of Jhalokati. (ABC)
On eve of Thursday, Nov. 15, The tropical Cyclone Sidr has devastated much of southern Bangladesh with its 140 miles per hour wind, claiming over 2000 lives, destroying entire communities, and displacing over 650,000 people from their homes, said Ali Imam Majumder, a senior government official.
In one district, called Shatkhira, according to local journalists, roughly 5,000 mud homes collapsed back into the ground. Local relief workers for Caritas, the Catholic relief agency, reported that an entire island in Barisal district was submerged under at least six feet of water and houses were blown away by winds. (IHT)
Over a million had evacuated their homes for nearby safe shelters. Upon their return, a few have, if at all, have found a place to return to. Realizing so, foreign countries and concerned organization rush to provide aid.
U.S. government has provided an initial $2.1 million in emergency relief aide. (AP)
Direct Relief International Reaching Out to Partners in Bangladesh, Releases $280,000 in Medical Aid. (DR)
Action Aid team is carrying emergency relief items which include 2000kg of beaten rise, molasses, oral re-hydration salts, clothes and water purification tablets. ActionAid intends to reach over 5000 families with these supplies. (AA)
The U.N.’s humanitarian chief on Friday said the world body has made several millions of dollars available for aid to Bangladesh (IHT)
Of course, similar to Hurricane Katrina and the flood in Tabasco, Mexico, all were aware beforehand that this part of Bangladesh was dangerously prone to such devastating storm.
And as is the custom, nothing was done about it.
November 8, 2007
How can you dispute so if the latest study reveals that 25 percent of homeless folks in the United States are war veterans.
Veterans make up one in four homeless people in the United States, though they are only 11 percent of the general adult population, according to a report to be released Thursday.
And homelessness is not just a problem among middle-age and elderly veterans. Younger veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are trickling into shelters and soup kitchens seeking services, treatment or help with finding a job. (link)
So this study accounts for the soldiers from the war in Iraq and Afghanistan too. May I throw an unsettling thought in your head? THE WAR IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE INDEFINITELY!
Now I can’t decide what saddens me more: war veterans unfortunate state or how we’ve neglected them after their return… and will likely continue to do so.
“When the Vietnam War ended, that was part of the problem. The war was over, it was off TV, nobody wanted to hear about it,” said John Keaveney, a Vietnam veteran and a founder of New Directions in Los Angeles.
“I think they’ll be forgotten,” Keaveney said of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. ”People get tired of it. It’s not glitzy that these are young, honorable, patriotic Americans. They’ll just be veterans, and that happens after every war.”
Homelessness is just the tip of the iceberg. Unemployment is an issue to. Jason Kelley, 23, said, “The only training I have is infantry training and there’s not really a need for that in the civilian world.”
More statistics from Pete Dougherty, director of homeless veterans programs at Veterans Affairs Department:
Overall, 45 percent of participants in the VA’s homeless programs have a diagnosable mental illness and more than three out of four have a substance abuse problem, while 35 percent have both.
November 3, 2007
Tens of thousands of residents in the Mexican state of Tabasco were still trapped in their houses on Saturday by floods that have put much of the state under water in what President Felipe Calderón called one of the worst natural disasters in recent history.
The Tabasco governor, Andrés Granier, compared the city this week to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and said some 80 percent of the city had been flooded. (link)
Understandably, when one compares any disaster to Hurricane Katrina, the first questions that comes to mind is how many folks died? And what part of the city is no more?
Well as stated above, 80% of Tabasco is under water. President Calderon said, “red-tiled rooftops were all that could be seen of many houses.” And Governor Granier said, “half of the state’s 2 million residents were affected by flooding.” Although only one death is reported, many folks are unaccounted for, and the official death toll hasn’t been released.
Another similarity that supports the titled comparison is that the state of Tabasco is prone to floods, similar to New Orleans. And in a like manner was ill prepared.
Tabasco, which is on a low-lying plain, often suffers from flooding. After the last serious flooding in 1999, the state and federal governments began work on a complex flood-control project, but it was never completed.
Mr. Granier, who is from the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, pressed Mr. Calderón for a commitment to finish the work. (link)
For official updates visit the state of Tobasco’s Web site. You’ll find more information there on how you can either volunteer or donate for the 800,000 affected.
October 17, 2007
At about midnight Friday, Felix Najera was sleeping on a cardboard box in front of the Iglesia Cristiana Betania Church on East 103rd Street, when one teen lit his pants on fire with a cigarette lighter, police said. Najera jumped up, “causing him to be engulfed in flames,” said Sgt. Carlos Nieves, a New York Police Department spokesman
Najera, 48, a Mexican immigrant, suffered burns over at least 40 percent and possibly as much as 75 percent of his body, including his face, chest, arms and abdomen. He was in critical condition Friday night at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, police said. (link)
A drunken homeless’ life in the New York city streets isn’t worth much to many. It’s reality. Even less if he is an Mexican immigrant. Surprisingly, upon hearing of the horrible plight of Felix Najera many residents collectively began voicing their rage.
“Whoever did this has no love for humanity,” Rev. Ariel Soto of Iglesia Cristiana Betania Church on East 103rd Street said. “The person who did this is psychologically disturbed. There is absolutely no meaning to this.”
A veteran NYPD detective who was passing out fliers with Najera’s photograph and an offer of a $2,000 reward for information leading to an arrest, shook his head and said, “I can’t remember a case like this happening here, and I’ve been here since 1994.”
October 12, 2007
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
Did I miss some sort of a fine print in Emma Lazarus’ “The New Colossus?” Let me get this straight. First, Giuliani wanted to rid the street of homeless.
Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani declared yesterday that the homeless had no right to sleep on the streets and his police commissioner added that they could be arrested if they refused shelter.
Now Bloomberg wants to reduce the amount of people who receive shelter,
Beginning tomorrow night, (New York) city will stop giving emergency shelter to families who are reapplying for a place to stay after being ruled ineligible, officials said yesterday.