“We weren’t able to go to church because we didn’t have any money for transport and my father had a fever so my mother and I had to wash clothes for money.” (link)

That excerpt was from an entry in 11-year-old Mariannet Amper’s diary. She committed suicide by hanging herself with a nylon cord Nov. 2, likely because of her family’s unfortunate state in poverty.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that the media has blown out of proportion an “isolated case.” A comment that enraged many to protest on the streets. Although he later added, “we take responsibility for everything because we are leaders of government. We need to ensure that services are there.”

A representative of an NGO, Global Call to Action against Poverty, said, “One death is too much.”

“We were shocked and saddened by the news of the suicide of 11 year-old girl, and for a few hours our world stopped. To hear the government reducing her death to an isolated case is outrageous.”



Crowds of sympathizers filed into the Santa Cruz chapel, where the Mass for the 12-year-old girl was held, before proceeding in a long procession to the unkempt cemetery, which looked as miserable as the girl’s destitute life.

Stepping on tombs, some of the girl’s classmates wailed as they took a last look at their classmate, whom they described as “jolly,” now lying in a white wooden coffin under a lone mango tree amidst a jungle of poorly kept tombs. (link)

All classmates and community members that attended the funeral agree that Mariannet made a poor choice. They too are affected by the poverty crisis, but wouldn’t resort to such drastic measure. Her classmate, Mary Riza Jumawan, 12, said that her family’s condition is similar, but options still remain.

“We’re also poor but I will not hang myself because I want to study and become a teacher. If my parents can’t afford to send me to school, then I’ll finish my studies as a working student like (my) elder sisters”

24-year-old mother of three, Anabel Carbonella, a neighbor, maintains the community’s consensus that suicide was an easy way out. She said, “Even if we are poor, we should not stop striving because there is hope if we try hard.”

Mariannet Amper is survived by a younger brother, her mother and father.


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.

There are many ways to support the troops. Putting up a bumper sticker on your car saying that you do so, is the most superficial one.


Over the years, I’ve been noticing news of the high staggering rate of teenage pregnancy when referring to Scotland. Pick any news agency at random in the last few years and follow its coverage chronologically till present day. Pay close attention to the modifications made (and its results) to address the issue, and you’ll notice little to no change in the rate — the bottom line in this conversation (link) .

November 10, 2003 –Teenage pregnancies are higher in the UK than anywhere else in Europe, and though the figures are declining, Scotland has more than 9,000 every year.

Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm made a statement to the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday and launched a wide-ranging consultation on the 100-plus recommendations produced in the panel’s 92-page report.

Among them is a “sex czar” to oversee the implementation of the strategy. This person would be given the job of reducing the pregnancy rate among 13 to 15-year-olds by 20% by 2010. (link)

January 27, 2005 — Young people should be informed about sexual health services and have access to them, according to the Scottish Executive’s new strategy.

The issue of sex education, particularly in Catholic schools, has already provoked controversy.

The strategy is aimed at tackling high rates of STDs and unwanted pregnancy. (link)

April 14, 2005 — Health officials in Tayside are proposing to make condoms available free from chemists and other outlets near secondary schools.

It is one proposal in a new strategy aimed at reducing the high number of teenage pregnancies and abortions.

Dundee has the highest number of young teenagers falling pregnant in the whole of western Europe.

The condom scheme, however, has been condemned by the Roman Catholic Church as unacceptable and irresponsible. (link)

May 29, 2005 — School pupils across Scotland are being denied access to sexual health websites because of internet “firewalls”, a youth organisation says. (link)

March 29, 2006 — Caledonia Youth claimed it had been forced to close its Dundee branch following service cuts by NHS Tayside. (link)

October 30, 2007 — Reducing teenage pregnancy rates in deprived areas is a key government target, but there has been little change over the past six years.

More than 9,000 teenage girls became pregnant in Scotland in 2005, including 678 aged under 16.

The figures for 2005 showed a slight drop in the total number of girls under 16 who became pregnant.

The pregnancy rate for that age group has also remained fairly steady over the past six years, despite a government commitment to try to reduce it.

Dundee remained Scotland’s teen pregnancy capital, with 80 pregnancies for every 1,000 teenage girls. (link)

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.”

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