Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘families’

One by One They Died

Life of Nane Alejandrez. Excerpt from Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something! Grief’s Wake Up Call.

In photo: Nane holding photos of brother Tavo and Leo’s headstones.

naneOne by one they died . . . from drugs . . . from violence . . . from pain, hate and revenge. Nane’s oldest brother got wiped out when he was intentionally hit from behind on his motorcycle; his younger brother died from a heroin overdose; his uncle Pancheo was stabbed to death; numerous cousins succumbed to drugs or were murdered; and his father died from an accumulation of life-long exposure to pesticides, alcoholism and a blow to the head with a baseball bat during a gang fight. That Nane survived to tell his story is a miracle in and of it’s self. 

Mr. Alejandrez is now director of Barrios Unidos (Communities United), was instrumental in convening a national gang summit for peace and has received countless awards and recognition for his work in teaching and living non-violence. Barrios Unidos is a multi-cultural program whose mission is to prevent and curtail violence among youth, by providing alternatives such as the Cesar E. Chavez School For Social Change; outreach to youth clubs, parent groups, juvenile hall and kids on the street; and community economic development by operating a full service, custom silk screening business called BU Productions, where youth learn production, sales, marketing, design and administration skills.

NANE:

I’ve seen so many families get torn apart and so many men, especially men, go into hate and revenge and take somebody else’s life. Not thinking about what it’s going to do to the rest of the family. All the violence and anger . . . and a lot of us being brought up to not show any pain . . . to not let people know . . . so we act out, even at times when we don’t want to.

When I acted out I didn’t really want to, but I did it to show that I was looking out for the neighborhood; for the honor of my family. It felt like I wasn’t punking out. If you didn’t do nothing then someone else would think, “Oh well, kill one of those family members and nobody will do anything about it.” So the family would look at each other and say, “Who’s going to do something about it?” – That whole system of payback; trying to keep an image that causes a lot of pain. It’s easier to do that then to deal with your pain.

One thing I’ve learned throughout the years, is I wish somebody would have talked to me about pain and how to deal with it; how to not inflict pain. I learned how to numb it by using drugs and violence, which removed me from feeling it and kept my feelings busy on something else. That worked for a while, but what began to happen was the addiction started taking over. No longer was it about feelings; it was just being well. Surviving and the excitement of breaking the law and running with the home boys . . . you know . . . rebelling, not conforming. I didn’t know anybody that was dealing with it.

People would say, “It’s OK, everything’s going to be all right.” I’d say, “How do you know everything’s going to be all right, when I’m feeling like shit?! You tell me everything’s going to be all right, but that guy over there’s laughing at what he did to my family. Why shouldn’t I go do it to his family?” And then other people would just say, “Go out and take care of it.” They think, “Why isn’t he doing anything? Why doesn’t he take one of their people out?”

There’s that whole thing of not believing in a higher power. I said, “How can this God take my loved ones away? How can He allow it to happen . . . to take my heroes?” The heroes in my life were taken away in a short period of time. The heroes to me were my father, my Uncle Frank and my oldest brother.

After losing all these relatives I was still using drugs a lot of the time. When my father had his operation I was strung out and unemployed. Here I was having graduated from the university with honors and I was really down. When I went to see him in the hospital I was loaded. I went into intensive care. My aunt was there and we went into see him. There were five individuals in intensive care and you know a lot of people that go in there don’t come out. They told me he was all bandaged up and swollen and it would be hard to recognize him. I go in there and start to talk to my father and tell him how much I love him, how much I care about him, my aunts at the end of the bed rubbing his feet. I’m saying, “You’re going to be OK. I love you Dad.” Then my other aunt comes in and says, “Alejandrez is over here.” I look and say, “Wow man!” I was talking to the wrong man. (laughs) I was talking to another man two beds down from my father. My aunt let go of his feet and yelled! I could hear the rest of my family laughing, even in a situation like that, they were laughing. They were going, “Nane’s over there talking to another man.” I swear to God I felt like disappearing. If my father could talk he would have said, “I’m over here stupid!” or “Pendejo en estoy!” So I had to move from that bed to my Dad’s bed and repeat everything. That’s how fucked up I was. That’s an example of the madness. It took me about a year after my father died to really let go of that.

After all these deaths, when I really wanted to clean myself up, I was able to see a friend of mine who was clean. He’s now one of my best friends. We had used together in the past, so when I saw him clean I saw the possibility. He was looking good. I’d gotten busted and was going to court and he would show up in the courts. Every time I had a court date he’d be there supporting me.

Finally I just couldn’t do it no more. My family . . . my children . . . I wasn’t doing anymore talks. I couldn’t hide it anymore. I’d gotten so deep I couldn’t maintain. And I didn’t want to be doing stuff when I was loaded. I hid my addiction a lot. When it got to the point were I couldn’t do that anymore I asked for help. When I asked him for support he was there. Once I got clean and got the drugs out of my system I started to feel a lot of the pain.

I think I was always a spiritual person but I got side tracked. I got more involved in my traditional ways . . . my indigenous background . . . knowing that it was OK to pray. I’d go around with a lot of Native American teachers and prayer was always there. So I started to pray and go to NA (narcotics anonymous) and they always ended the meeting with a prayer. I began to feel different. My work started coming out again and I was really happy. I was seeing the faces of children and I told myself, “If I’m going to do this I need to do it right.” I need to be clean and I can’t be backsliding. I got more involved in my work and my self. It took a long time to do that again.

I’ve been gifted, you know, in certain situations where things were going to happen . . . by me being there . . . and the respect they have for me. Because I have been through a lot and they could sense it, it stopped it from happening again. People know that this is what I’ve been talking about for the last twenty years. “Stop the violence! Stop the violence!” Even through my madness I’ve stuck with it. People my age always tell me that that’s what they admire about me . . . that I’ve always stuck with it. It’s been hard. There’s been a lot of pain. People ask, “Why would you want to stay in a situation where you’re dealing with so much pain?” But at the same time there’s so much hope . . . the smiles on the kids. They’ve got this place, they’ve got a job, people that look like themselves running it. They got inspiration that maybe someday they’ll be doing it.

More of Nane’s story, and others, at: Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something! Grief’s Wake Up Call

Don’t Look the Other Way

Stop for a moment and answer this question: What can you buy for $2.50? These days, not much. A bottle of water. A candy bar, perhaps. Maybe a bag of chips.

Now think about this: Right now, half of the world’s population—more than three billion people–is living on $2.50 a day or less. With no money left over to dig their way out of poverty.

You can look away as they struggle – or you can take action.

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A small loan can be all an enterprising individual needs to begin down the path to success. Just $25 can provide a microentrepreneur with goods to sell at the local market. $50 or $100 can allow an individual to buy a sewing machine, or a refrigerator to keep food for resale from spoiling overnight. They’ll be the ones doing all of the hard work – all they need is a little help from you to get them started.

We reach more than one million clients in 22 countries – most of them women. Women in particular are using their businesses to provide for their families and to earn independence within their communities. While some 13 million worldwide have already benefited from microcredit, the need is still estimated to be 200 million people.

Around the world, our clients – and potential clients – are ready to work hard to get ahead. All they need is for you not to look the other way. You may take action and make a donation today.

Sincerely,

Soledad Gompf
Vice President
FINCA

Elephant Families Stranded

We need your help with one of our most challenging animal rescues ever.

We have to relocate three elephant families immediately. The 12 elephants are stranded in small patches of forest in Côte d’Ivoire, Africa.

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These elephants are in immense danger of being killed due to clashes over crops with surrounding townspeople. Some have already been seen with bullet holes in their ears. They are also threatened by poachers, who are relentlessly hunting them for their ivory tusks. Babies and parents live every day at risk of being killed.

With your help, our elephant transport experts will move them family by family 250 miles south to Azagny National Park. There they will have 55,000 acres of forest and rivers to live in safety and freedom.

You have been generous in helping animals, and I thank you for that support. Now I am asking you to show how much you care about animals by helping with this urgent matter. You can help give 12 elephants a safe new home. These elephants are running out of time, and they need you now.

We have successfully relocated elephants in Africa and India. But as the video shows, this move is more difficult, as these are forest elephants. They are shy and reclusive and live in deep thickets where there are only dirt tracks leading in and out.

With your gift, you will help cover the expert veterinary care needed to ensure the health and safety of the elephants while they are captured and moved to their new home. You also will help prepare the special vehicles needed to move the elephants (some of them weigh over two tons).

You can help with this historic elephant move.

Thank you for all you do to protect elephants and other animals.

Céline Sissler-Bienvenu
IFAW Regional Director, France and Francophone Africa

Super Typhoon Haiyan

Super Typhoon Haiyan

I’m writing you from the Philippines where I’m managing CARE’s ongoing response to Super Typhoon Haiyan.

Relief Efforts Continue After Typhoon Haiyan's DestructionThe situation we’re dealing with on the ground is unlike any I’ve ever experienced in my 20 plus years as an emergency response specialist.

My team of seasoned veterans and I delivered life-saving aid after the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Haiti earthquake of 2010, and the drought-stricken Horn of Africa in 2011.

haiyan-e4-debrisBut none of those disastrous events were as challenging as this one. The remoteness, flooding and debris everywhere in the affected areas means that simple journeys can take days. The widespread magnitude of the damage means limited to no access by land or air and no lines of communication or electricity up and running.

There are pictures below, but they don’t truly capture the experience on the ground: the smell, the complete destruction in every direction you look, the heavy rain, the continuous exhaustion because there is nowhere for anyone to sleep, debris everywhere. And – worst of all – the desperate look in the eyes of survivors.

They’re hungry and they’ve been hungry for days. The food is just gone, picked clean.

It’s truly awful. We need your help. You can help us put food, shelter, and necessities in the hands of Filipinos and others in need.

Within the next 48 hours, we’ll be distributing food to thousands of families outside of Ormac City. Frankly, it’s frustrating that we can’t get supplies to more survivors more quickly. We plan to help an initial 150,000 storm survivors with the support of donors like you. Food and shelter are our current priorities.

Coordinating the response to Super Typhoon Haiyan has been so much more challenging than Haiti. It’s not even that the weather is horrible or that today’s office/sleeping space lost its roof and flooded out.

Communication during emergency response is critical, but here the electricity is down, the phone lines aren’t working, there is no internet. Thank goodness for our satellite phones.

In Haiti, communication was back up very quickly. And the earthquake was in a small area, so once the rubble was cleared, it was easy to drive and deliver aid. We could get everywhere affected in two or three hours. The airport was up and functioning quickly, so supplies could be brought by air, or road from the Dominican Republic.

Here in the Philippines, the disaster is spread over several islands. It takes days to get to places – not only for relief items, but for staff. You have to take a boat, and then a car, and the road hasn’t been cleared. The government and international community are working to clear the roads and open the airport, but it is taking time.

Once it does, we know what we need to do to help. I only hope you’ll be there during this critical time to support our response. Donate to CARE right away to help with disaster relief efforts in the Philippines and other places impacted by crisis and poverty.

Sincerely,

David Gazashvili
CARE Emergency Team Leader

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Cousins In Rwanda

Cousins In Rwanda

Once, when we were visiting our friends in Rwanda at the Rwandan Orphan’s Project, we decided to also take a trip up to the north, near the border with The Congo, and visit our cousins in the rainforest – better known as gorillas. The families we met were so similar to our own human family, that there were times it was difficult to tell if their was much difference. It turns out gorillas have 97% of the same DNA as humans, or vice-a-verse.

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Faces of Syrian Refugee Crisis

CARE President Dr. Helene D. Gayle Sees Faces of Syrian Refugee Crisis in Jordan: Leader of global humanitarian organization visits CARE’s work, meets Jordan’s Queen Rania and Prime Minister
From CARE.org

AMMAN (Oct. 2, 2013) – CARE President and CEO Helene D. Gayle visited Jordan this week to see firsthand the poverty-fighting organization’s work with Syrian refugees and meet senior national leaders and officials.

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Over half a million Syrians who fled their homeland now live in safe but difficult circumstances in Jordan. And while the public image of the crisis may be that of refugee camps, the vast majority of refugees — 75 percent in Jordan — live outside of camps, struggling to survive in poorer areas of cities. In these urban centers, CARE is helping refugees with emergency cash assistance for shelter, food, and medical care, provision of information on available services, case management and referral services.

“This is the world’s largest refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide, and yet, in a way, it’s almost invisible,” said Gayle. “But here in the poorest neighborhoods of Amman and other cities of Jordan, inside squalid apartments, seeing the faces of this crisis is unavoidable and shocking. More often than not, they are the faces of mothers and children in desperate living conditions.”

The refugee crisis began in spring 2011, when civil war broke out in Syria. As bombings and shootings escalated, more than 2 million people escaped to neighboring countries like Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. At least three-quarters of the refugees are women and children.

Gayle was particularly moved by Rawda, a Syrian widow who lost her husband in a bomb blast and now is struggling to care for five young children, including a seven-year-old son unable to walk after being injured by a bomb in Syria. “The situation of the people I’ve met is overwhelming. There are mothers and children who have witnessed their husbands or fathers dying in their arms,” Gayle said.

Soaring prices for food, electricity, and rent have swiftly impoverished hundreds of thousands of Syrians. Many refugees are not legally allowed to work in their host countries, so once their savings are gone, they face destitution.

Donor response, however, has not matched the scale of the humanitarian crisis. As of Oct. 2, the UN-led appeal of $4.4 billion is only at 49 percent funded. And CARE has secured less than 25 percent of the anticipated $50 million in funding needed for its life-saving response.

Nonetheless, CARE is scaling up. In Jordan, CARE’s cash grant program gives Syrian and Iraqi families emergency funds to meet urgent needs. CARE is providing life-saving services to Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon and to people affected by the crisis in Syria. As the conflict escalates, CARE is also starting activities in Egypt and Yemen to help Syrian refugees there. CARE is impartial and neutral. Our support to families affected by the crisis in Syria is based on humanitarian needs alone, no matter people’s religion, political affiliation or ethnicity.

Gayle met with Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan to discuss the Syrian refugee crisis as well as the long-term women’s empowerment programs that CARE runs in Jordan. Gayle recognized the generosity of Jordan in hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees. She repeated that message in a separate meeting with Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, where discussions focused on how groups such as CARE can best help in a coordinated refugee response.

For all the challenges, Dr. Gayle said she was also left with a sense of hope while talking to refugees. “I see so much strength in women like Rawda. Even as she struggles to feed her own children, she managed to find a way to enroll them in school. I was truly moved by her resilience and determination.”

About CARE: Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package®, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE has more than six decades of experience delivering emergency aid during times of crisis. Our emergency responses focus on the needs of the most vulnerable populations, particularly girls and women. Last year CARE worked in 84 countries and reached more than 83 million people around the world. To learn more, visit www.care.org.

The Real Story About Syria

The Real Story About Syria

The politics around Syria’s civil war are complex, but the reason to care about Syria’s millions of refugees is simple – there is very real suffering happening with our fellow humans. Real people like you and me whose lives have been up-ended. Millions of people who have done nothing to bring this upon themselves, who are struggling to survive, and who may never be able to return home.

With or without military intervention, the flood of Syrians displaced by the conflict, both within Syria and as refugees in neighboring countries, will continue.

All the news about weapons, governmental bodies, and military actions ignores the truly massive humanitarian crisis that continues to dramatically unfold.

This is 12-year-old Amina and 7-year-old Sahed with their grandmother, 80-year-old Amina. “I miss my friends from my old school the most. I don’t know what has happened to them,” says young Amina. “My wish is to be able to see again properly,” says her grandmother, 80-year-old Amina, of her failing eyesight, “and see Syria again.”

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CARE is helping refugees in Jordan and Lebanon and people affected by the crisis in Syria. As the crisis escalates, we are also starting to work in Egypt and Yemen. The more than 8 million people affected by this disaster are looking to us to help by providing basic life saving support, such as: food, shelter, clean water, medicine and medical care, and the means to stay warm when winter approaches.

Please give what you can today to help those fleeing the violence in Syria, and others caught in the crosshairs of political unrest around the world.

I believe that – as human beings, confronted with the suffering and needs of others – you and I can and must do something to help. If you suddenly lost your home, wouldn’t you want to know that someone cared enough to reach out and support you to maintain your dignity while getting you through an unimaginably difficult time? I know I would.

Together we can make a difference to help each other in times of need. Please give what you can today.

As you listen to the radio and scan the headlines, keep the faces of the refugees above in your thoughts. They are the real story. And they need our support.

With greatest hope,

Holly Solberg
Director of Emergency and Humanitarian Assistance, CARE

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