As the South-West monsoon gained strength in several parts of India (Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and other parts of the southern peninsula) throughout the month of June, wind-generated waves lashed various parts of Tamil Nadu (South India).
The effects were profound near the Pamban bridge, which connects Palk Straits (Rameswaram) to India. The sea was rough and winds blew at high velocity. In fact, gusty winds accompanied by giant waves rose above the cantilever railway bridge, an engineering marvel and pride of India.
Rail commuters were frightened out of their lives as they were only used to the gentle sway of the 2.3 km long bridge, as the sea below is usually a calm one. Further inland, in Chennai, the waves wreaked havoc on more than 500 meters of the shoreline along Pattinapakkam, a locality close to the sea.
Sea Water Rising Above the Pamban Bridge Near Rameswaram
On June 28 evening, (full moon day) when the fisherwomen were going about their daily routine, giant waves crashed into their hamlet, damaging large portions of their homes. The waves unleashed large amounts of energy bringing down walls in the houses and taking away a lot of sand too. The waves rolled relentlessly for a day or two.
The Devastating Effect Near Pattinapakkam, Chennai
Vasanthi, a resident could hardly come to terms with the loss and could hardly excuse herself for having built her home quite close to the waters. She stood staring at the mound of debris which was all that was left of her home, which had been built with her one year earnings.
Residents of the hamlet said that sea which had been rough for more than 24 hours, finally invaded the shore shattering as many as 70 houses. Many of them were seen trying to salvage whatever they could from the wreckage after the onslaught.
The Devastating Effect Near Pattinapakkam, Chennai
Peter Aloycious, another resident pointed out that the sea has been advancing in the last few years and destruction of houses have become a common phenomenon in these hamlets which house more than 1,000 fishermen families. “A small portion of my earnings is spent on piling sand bags in front of my house to prevent intrusion of sea water. But I have realized, that it hardly helps,” explained Peter.
Mr. Balachandran, Director of Area Cyclone Warning Centre, said it was just a weather-related phenomenon and there is no need to panic. “These are wind-generated waves which are especially strong during full moon days. They occur in a specific area based on several factors such as water currents, monsoon rain, change in density and salinity of sea water.” he explained.
The Meteorological Department official further said the phenomenon occurs as there is a constant exchange of energy between ocean, land and atmosphere. He also explained that TN coast is much safer compared to the Arabian Sea coast as the winds are stronger there and cause a heavy damage.
“For instance, high-energy swell waves, which are common during June, cause extensive damage to coastal areas in Kerala in south India. These waves are generated in a wind field, that travel away from it. In fact, they are formed miles away from the area where they would crash on land. Actually, you cannot gauge the impact till the swell reaches the shore and at times they look flat in the deep sea. But as they near the shore, they pack up energy, grow huge and land so hard that they take back huge mounds of sand with them,” elaborated Balachander. “Fishers in South India call the swell as Kallakadal, meaning deceptive sea.”
Experts in ocean science say that reasons for such rough sea condition can be ascertained only after a detailed analysis. But they agree that climate change is real and it has been causing extreme weather events in India.
They point out that we have been given plenty of warning signs by nature. “For instance, the floods, caused by heavy rain that inundated the metropolis of Chennai; Cyclone Vardah, which was the fourth and most severe tropical cyclone of 2017 that struck Andaman and Nicobar Islands and south India; severe cyclonic storm Ockhi that devastated several parts of India and Sri Lanka in 2017 are all due to climate change,” said Dr S. Srinivasalu, Director, Institute for Ocean Management, Anna University.
He pointed out that over 41 per cent of the Indian coast has been eroded due to climate change. “There is also a rise in sea level and this has submerged three islands out of 21 in the Gulf of Mannar. There is also a slight increase in ocean temperatures and acidification of sea water. This has affected fragile ecosystems in India _ Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Bay,” he said.
He further elaborated about the studies that have been conducted about adverse impacts of ocean acidification on marine organisms and coral reefs. He said Bethnic calcifiers are not able to precipitate calcium carbonate in the ocean and this has affected skeletal grown in reef-building corals. The acidification has also reduced the survival of larval marine species and this in turn has affected the food chain.
“The decrease in the carbonate ions in the water will finally lead to brittle coral skeletons and slow growth rate in coral reefs. In future, erosion of reefs may be faster than calcification. This will impact the natural eco system, food cycle and the humanity at large,” he said.
Research by universities here shows that we are likely to lose considerable land mass along the coast if do not pay heed to the alarming signs of climate change.
Environmental changes have not only impacted the life of fishers but also people of diverse fields. The agrarian economy of the county is also facinchallenges dueue to changes in the weather patterns.
The changes in the ocean will affect the communities whose livelihoods are dependent on it. Rapid urbanization and high pollution levels near the coastal regions have a telling effect on coastal ecological sensitive areas, which actually act as a shield during tsunamis or cyclones.
But, Dr. Srinivasalu is happy that due to some proactive measure taken by the Tamil Nadu government there is a significant increase in the mangrove cover at Pichavaram (It is the world’s second largest mangrove forest located near Chidambaram in Cuddalore district). It is actually a success story created in a span of 10 years post-tsunami (that struck in 2004), said the director who has been mapping the ecologically sensitive areas in the state.
With sea water set to rise, we need a lot of natural buffers along the coast such as mangroves, creeks and estuaries. The experts opine that satellite images do show an increase in mangroves in Pitchavaram, a coastal area near Cuddalore but we need to do implement more measures to protect us from the devastating effects.
If we fail to address the issue, the southern states will soon be grappling with issues like water crisis, ground-level ozone concentrations, change in the nutritional quality of food and so on due to irregular rainfall pattern. “The number of cyclones lashing the south has decreased but their intensity has increased. They cause heavy rainfall in a short span of time. The result is there is heavy leaching and erosion of soil by rainwater,” said experts.
For a state like Tamil Nadu, where the influence of the sea plays a major role in society, unless concrete and long-term measures are implemented by the government it cannot escape from nature’s fury.
Pic Credit: Author
Tell us about localized climate changes in your city/country.
Not every animal has a day devoted to it. But, the biggest of the cat species, the tiger, is exceptional and it is celebrated today (July 29). The International Tiger Day was launched in 2010 to create awareness about this magnificent creature, as it was on the brink of extinction.
Many factors have contributed to the decline in the numbers of this striped animal – climate change, loss of habitat and heavy poaching. Therefore, many organizations interested in wildlife came together to raise awareness about it.
It is not only the organizations but it is also the responsibility of every human being to understand the role played by the tiger in maintaining an ecological balance. Here is a personal narrative about sighting the big cat in all its splendor in a reserve forest.
Pristine waterfalls, a rich carpet of grass, trees laden with flowers, butterflies flitting in and out of bushes and trees and squirrels scampering away with a fistful of nuts have captivated the young and the old alike.
These are gifts from God. We love to see them, love to bask in their glory and would feel blessed to be part of them forever.
Nature has never considered itself as just a gift to us. It has blended with us and played its part very well. It has given us food, water, and warmth in abundance and helped us to flourish.
In India, the great Himalayan ranges, Western Ghats, and the Eastern Ghats are home to several beautiful creations of God _ animals, birds and rare plants. In fact, wildlife is an inseparable part of its natural treasure.
From various studies and surveys, we understand that we have not been respecting these gifts from God. Many do not even realize that we have lost much due to callousness.
Therefore, over a period of time, many species of flora and fauna have started disappearing from this world. Don’t you think it is high time we did something about it?
As a wake-up call and in order to save some of the endangered species, the Indian government has taken a number of measures on its own and in association with several organizations to preserve wildlife and plant species in the country.
As these values have to be instilled among children, our family decided to go on a nature camp to a tiger reserve in Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu.
While my husband and I wanted to have some quiet moments amidst greenery and enjoy mother nature, the children (10-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter) were excited about visiting the Kalakad Mudanthurai Tiger Reserve. It was a welcome change for them, as they had spent the last six months shuttling between home and school.
We reached Tirunelveli by train on a Saturday morning and rented a car to the tiger reserve. As the vehicle neared the western ghats, the kids were excited as the ride through the lush green forests was a surreal pampered experience for them.
The guide who accompanied us informed that it is the second largest protected area in the state and Kalakkad has also been declared as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots.
This information triggered my son’s curiosity. He did not understand why animals and plants needed protection. Seizing the opportunity, I explained to him about how we are influenced by nature and the crucial role played by it in our lives.
“Plants give us food, shelter, clothing, relaxation and many more. Right from a unicellular organism to the multicellular carnivores and herbivores, all play a part in sustaining life on Earth. They help to maintain the food chain and play an important role in maintaining the ecosystem,” I explained.
“Just like how we maintain our home, school and our immediate environs there is a dire need to conserve nature too. It has given us so much for our sustenance and as more and more resources are used by man, there has arisen a need to conserve whatever is left.”
To this explanation, my son with a puzzled look asked me: Mama are these not given to us by God. Will he not take care of it? I said that since nature is a gift from God and just like any other gift we need to preserve it too. “It has given us so much. Don’t you think we should give something back to it?”
As my son nodded in agreement, the guide told him that the place of visit was a jungle where tigers were protected in their natural habitat. The little one’s eyes fell out and he could not believe that a giant of an animal like the tiger needed protection.
My husband stepped in to offer an explanation: Yes, the magnificent tiger was slowly becoming extinct as it was being hunted for its skin and claws. Therefore the Government of India in order to promote awareness about wildlife initiated programmes like Project Tiger to save it from extinction. Thanks, to the timely intervention, the step did help and the number of big cats has increased in India.
“You are here to learn more about it,” he said as he lifted my daughter to show some deer feeding on the grass in the shade of some trees in the forest.
Though a tiger reserve, it was also noted for chital, sambar and lion-tailed macaques. The children clapped their hands in glee as they sighted some of the animals en route.
The rugged topography of Kalakad was dotted with dense rainforests, perennial streams, and falls. As the vehicle negotiated a hairpin bend we sighted the Agasthiar falls located amidst picturesque surroundings.
The children wanted to go near it. But we were told that we had to trek a few meters to reach the falls and it was almost 4.30 pm. The guide told us that we could not stay there beyond 6 pm as we would interfere with free animal movement in the forest.
As the children were hell-bent on seeing the falls, my husband relented and we climbed the slope. But one thing is for sure, the excitement and sheer pleasure of experiencing a jungle is an unparalleled one.
Though it was a tourist spot, there was not a single soul as it was late in the evening. As the flow of water in the falls was gentle, the children had a good time jumping and frolicking in the pristine waters. With passing away of nearly an hour, I pulled them away and took them near a bush to change their wet clothes. As I was just changing mine, darkness had begun to fall and my son took the powerful torch and tried to scourge the mountainside.
All of a sudden, my daughter pointed out to a speck of light which kept moving. When we enquired with the guide, he got worried and said, “I don’t think forest personnel would be there at this time of the hour.”
Meanwhile, my husband who was having a great time standing in the waters gestured me to come near him. As I was about to move towards him, I noticed that a light was not far off. As I lifted my daughter to move towards the falls, all three of us observed that it was not a speck of light but a pair. It suddenly began to move towards us rapidly.
It was then, it struck the guide that my son was constantly shining the torch towards the source of light.
“Oh god, madam, it is a tiger moving towards us, as it has been irritated by the torchlight.”
Panic-stricken we ran to the falls which was just a few yards away and pulled my husband who was basking in the waters.
We had not noticed the time slipping away and it was 6.30 pm. As I turned behind I could clearly see the two specs of light moving rapidly towards the falls.
Picking up our belongings we ran for life and almost skid down the slope towards the vehicle. It was the most frightening experience of my life. As soon as the jeep’s engine roared into life, we turned behind to see the falls for one last time. What we saw made the hair on our hand stand up.
With starlight bouncing of its glossy fur and emerald fiery eyes, a majestic tiger stood near the tumbling falls. It stretched its body as though it was about to settle for a nap and its claws emerged like crescent moons. It looked at us lazily, and let out a roar that made jeep turn into the road at top speed.
After two blissful hours of animal spotting among the lush green of the forest, we retired for bed at the guest house still shivering at the thought of what would have happened to us even if we had delayed by a few minutes.
“I am sorry to have troubled you to take us near the falls at dusk. We should not have disturbed the animals in their natural habitat,” said my son as he nearly sobbed to sleep.
My husband who was more than angry after this experience vocalized that he could not forgive himself for having failed to take note of the time and leave the protected place a few minutes earlier.
After all, we share the earth with all species created by God. They too have a right to exist and enjoy in the place that suits them.
Please live and let live.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
How do you feel about young girls who become child brides? If a young woman was tricked into marriage, raped by her husband and tried to escape a violent attack by killing him, should she face the death penalty?
A Young Sudanese Girl
In Sudan, 16-year-old Noura Hussein was forced by her parents to marry her 35-year-old distant cousin. Instead of going through with it, Noura fled from her home in Khartoum and stayed with her aunt for a few years to continue with her education.
After graduating high school, she had thought the prospect of marriage was no longer an issue. Three years later, Noura’s parents convinced her to come home with the promise of no marriage to her cousin, but she was tricked and forced to marry her cousin in April regardless of her protestations. Noura felt trapped and hopeless so she went along with the wedding. Her dream of becoming a teacher was dashed. In addition to participating at a wedding that was not of her choice, she had to find ways to thwart her husband from consummating their marriage.
Noura refused to have sex with her husband for several days after the wedding, but on the ninth night, he had his male relatives hold her down while he raped her. When he tried to have sex with her again the following night, and she refused, he threatened her with a knife. While struggling with the knife, Noura was able to wrestle it away from her husband and stab him to death before he could rape her again.
Instead of protecting Noura, her father turned her into the police and she confessed to stabbing her husband to death. She was sent to jail and because marital rape is not seen as a crime in Sudan, the court sentenced her to death, stating her action to be criminal, not self-defense.
Noura’s death sentence has garnered global attention that resulted in overturning the death sentence, but she was still sent to prison for five years and ordered to pay a fine of $19,000 to her deceased husband’s family. How was this just? Wasn’t it enough that her family betrayed her by forcing her to marry a stranger, only to be raped for not acquiescing to have sex with him as he thought was his right as her husband? Yes, she stabbed her husband, but for Noura, it was her only way out of a hopeless and dangerous situation. She should not be condemned for trying to save her own life.
I understand that every country has traditions and customs, but how can forcing a young girl to marry at the age of 16 by her family be agreeable, even enforced by law in that country? According to the non-profit Girls Not Brides, 1 in 3 Sudanese girls is married before the age of 18. How can any girl develop their potential if they’re forced into a situation where they have no rights and are treated like property?
As a mom, I can’t imagine my daughter married at the age of 16, let alone forcing her into a marriage where it wasn’t her choice. Yes, I’m coming at this as a Mom with a Western perspective, but also as someone who values a person’s worth. I believe that every country’s traditions and customs should be respected, but if it means endangering the life of a child or young woman, then I don’t support it. Is she guilty of murdering her rapist or was it self-defense? In my opinion, Noura did what she thought was necessary to ensure that her husband did not rape her again or endanger her life.
To read the articles about this post, click below:
Photo Credit: Wikimedia
Dr. Ruth Heidrich, Ph.D
Ruth Heidrich, Ph.D. is an internationally acclaimed speaker and authority in health, nutrition, and fitness. Known as the “other Dr. Ruth”, this six-time Ironman Triathlon finisher has held age-group records in every distance from 100-meter dashes to 5K road races to ultramarathons, the pentathlon, and triathlons, including 8 golds in the Senior Olympics. She has completed more than 60 marathons all over the world, including Boston, New York, Honolulu, Moscow, and has held 3 world fitness records in her age group at the famed Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas. She has also been named one of the “Top Ten Fittest Women in North America”.
She is the author of Senior Fitness, A Race For Life, an e-book, The CHEF Cook/Rawbook, and Lifelong Running, and has an “Ask Dr. Ruth” column on her website, www.RuthHeidrich.com. A graduate of UCLA, she holds a Master’s degree in Psychology and a doctorate in Health Education. She has also lectured in this field at the University of Hawaii, Stanford University, and Cornell University.
As of the year 2018, she has been vegan for 36 years and a daily runner for 50 years.
Here is her amazing story:
Cancer Caused Me To Step Out of My Comfort Zone
It’s been said that it’s harder for folks to change their diet than change their religion. Talk about comfort zones! If you, dear reader, are eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) or the more common Western diet, what follows should illustrate this quite well.
I grew up eating the SAD diet and in college studied nutrition. I was taught that we needed lots of protein with the “best” and “complete” sources being lean meat, especially chicken and fish. For strong bones, I was told that dairy products were required as the “best” source of calcium. As a result, I ate this way for the first 47 years of my life, confident that I was providing the best possible nutrition for my body. Confidence was bolstered by the fact that I’d taken up daily running fourteen years before and had worked up to running marathons. Since I was lean and fit, and, I thought, healthy, you can imagine the shock I felt when told by the surgeon that the golf-ball-sized tumor he’d just carved out of my breast was cancer — in fact, a 5 cm infiltrating ductal carcinoma (IDC), a moderately fast metastasizing form of breast cancer. This explained the severe bone pain I was having which not even narcotics could dull. It explained my sky-high liver enzymes.
Then they found a tumor in my right lung. This made it Stage 4! My life as I knew it had just been dumped on its ear! My burgeoning, exciting career as a fast-rising female management-type in the U. S. Air Force suddenly lost all importance to me.
Comfort zone? What comfort zone! For the next few days, I walked around numb, alternating between tears and anger at the betrayal of my body. After all, hadn’t I done everything right? When I asked my doctor why I got cancer when I was doing everything right, he said nobody knows why we get cancer. Somebody must know, I thought. I got a second opinion. When that agreed with the first, I got a third and even a fourth. All said, “We don’t know why we get cancer and, yes, yours is definitely advanced cancer.” I went to the library and checked out every single book they had on cancer and searched through them all – and still, no answers.
Since I hadn’t yet gone back to work, I happened to see an item in the local paper and the words, “breast cancer” jumped out at me. It read: “Wanted: Women with breast cancer to participate in diet-related research. Call Dr. McDougall…” with his phone number. I found myself talking to the doctor himself. I was so surprised I sputtered the words, “I’ve just been diagnosed with breast cancer.” I barely heard his response, “Get your medical records. I need to talk to you.”
As he was going through my records, I heard “Hmmm. Y’know, with a cholesterol of 236, you have as great a risk of dying of a heart attack as the breast cancer.” As this information sank in, I was thinking, first, breast cancer, and now, heart attack? I was stunned! Wait just a darn minute — I am running marathons, I eat a good diet, but then the thought occurred to me. I’ll show him that my diet has nothing to do with cancer and heart disease.
My next surprise came when I was told the conditions of entering the study. First, no chemotherapy or radiation because there had to be only one variable – the diet. Then came the conditions of the diet. “No meat…” I interrupted, saying I only eat chicken and fish. He explained that the muscle that moves a hoof is the same as the one that moves a wing or a fin, so, meat is gone. Going on, he said, “No dairy” I interrupted again. “Oh, I only drink instant powdered milk”, thinking that because it was so low-fat, it had to be okay. Turns out that animal protein, and dairy protein, in particular, are cancer promoters, he told me.
My comfort zone shrank further. What was I going to eat, thinking that there wasn’t much left. He and his wife, Mary, gave me all the bad/good news. I could eat all I wanted of whole grains, potatoes, yams, vegetables, and fruit. Then, another surprise, no oil – not even olive or coconut oil. More comfort zone shrinkage!
A full two hours later, I left the office full of a mixture of hope and despair. My whole dietary world was turned upside down. I was told that animal products both initiated and promoted cancer and that by eliminating these from my diet, my immune system could start doing what it should have been doing all along. He pulled open a file cabinet drawer, saying “Here are the epidemiological studies and also the results of the animal research. You are welcome to spend as much time as you want to go through these files.”
The next attack on my comfort zone came when I broke the news to my husband. His reaction was a shocker. “You’ve fallen into the hands of a quack!” I countered with “No, I’ve seen the research.” Then, scoffing, he said, “I gave you credit for having more intelligence than this.” This was really insulting because I was a graduate of UCLA, had a master’s degree, and at that time, had all but the dissertation for my Ph.D. I knew at that moment that I was going to do this but that it was going to be without his support.
A few days later I was transferred from Surgery to Oncology and met the oncologist who would be in charge next. When he talked about scheduling me for chemotherapy and radiation, I told him that my only treatment was going to be a low-fat vegan diet. I imagined what was going through his mind, probably even having to suppress some laughter as he heard what he must’ve thought was the most ridiculous treatment for advanced breast cancer he’d ever heard. He said, “Diet has nothing to do with breast cancer, and besides, you can’t possibly get enough protein without meat. And there’s no way you’ll get enough calcium for your bones without dairy.”
Back I went to Dr. McDougall who pulled out the USDA food analysis graphs showing how all my dietary needs would be met. I’d also started feeling the results of the new diet in the form of bone pain disappearing, liver enzymes normalizing, chronic constipation is gone, no more need for the prescription for my disappearing arthritis, and, a wonderful surprise, my running got faster and I took 17 minutes off my next marathon! I was totally convinced!
Then I heard about the Ironman Triathlon, a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike and then you run a 26.2-mile marathon! I thought this would be a great challenge and a chance to prove that Dr. McDougall was on the right track, that if I could do the Ironman on this diet AND reverse cancer, that the whole world would soon take notice and change their diets as well.
Cancer is gone and Ironman completed. That’s when I discovered how hard it is for most people, husbands, and doctors included, to step outside their comfort zones.
I’m still waiting…
Dr. Ruth is joining us for a GLOW Heartfulness Webinar on 14th July 2018. She would answer your questions live.
Please register for the webinar here – http://webinar.heartfulness.org/webinar-registration/?id=14
In this webinar, you’ll learn how Dr. Ruth reversed a shocking diagnosis of Stage 4 breast cancer, changed her diet and went on to win hundreds of gold medals in races ranging from the Ironman Triathlon, dozens of marathons, to eight gold medals in the Senior Olympics. She will cover the benefits of daily exercise, how it helps the heart, lungs, muscles, bones, and even the brain. She’ll describe the ideal human diet, and how easy it can be, to implement. You’ll also learn the importance of eating a whole food, a plant-based diet which gives the body the carbohydrates it needs, the right amount of protein and fat. She will also discuss how money drives most diet decisions and how that causes the most common health threats we face today: obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, and dementia.
Overview & Takeaway
- What the ideal human diet looks like and how it provides all our nutritional needs.
- How the right diet supports your goals and sets the stage for better meditation.
- Why daily exercise is important, the best time to exercise, and the best exercise to do.
- How to reverse the most common conditions causing the need to be put on medication.
- An experiential session of Heartfulness Relaxation and Meditation.
“Who wants some cake?” My friend, Adelyn Ruiz-Lopez, asked.
“I am so full,” I said with a laugh.
“But it’s Tres Leches cake!” she quipped with a smile.
“Tres Leches cake!” Our heads turned and gazed longingly at the delicious light and fluffy cake.
“Well, maybe one slice,” I replied.
Now in our thirties, my college friends and I gathered together for a brunch reunion at my friend Adelyn’s house in the east coast of the USA. My three-year-old daughter Lily was laughing and playing with Adelyn’s one-year-old daughter Evie. The two youths were covered in bubbles, laughing and sprawled out on the floor playing with Elmo toys. It gave me a momentary reprise to enjoy a mimosa and reminisce and chat with my friends. Despite the darkness happening in our country, this brunch was a unique perspective, about love, friendship and family.
I am a second-generation immigrant who grew up with the brave and courageous stories of my grandparents who immigrated to this country from Europe to start a better life for themselves and their families. I am the lucky one, being born, here, in the USA in Long Island, NY I didn’t have to go through the hardships my ancestors faced getting here. However, I have been horrified and heartbroken about the new Trump administration policy that has been separating children from their parents at the Texas border in order to curb the influx of immigrants migrating to this country illegally.
Many families being detained are seeking asylum due to gang related violence and political unrest in their home countries in Central America. After having gone through hell of escaping persecution in their home countries, they encountered a new and never imagined hell – the fear and utter despair of being separated from their children with little or no hope of being reunited.
As a mother, I am appalled that these young children, including babies, are being detained in cages and tent cities. Even with a Federal Judge ruling against the Trump administration’s separation policy at the border and 17 states suing the Federal Government, the Trump administration continues to fight to continue with these inhumane practices, with approximately 2,300 children still separated from their families since May.
Despite the happy reunion at our college brunch, there was also that sad reality of what was happening in our country. I was fortunate enough to have amazing friends to help open my eyes about what it’s like to immigrate to this country at a young age. My friend Adelyn emigrated from the Dominican Republic with her family when she was 10 years old. In 1991, her dad lost his job as a production manager at one of the biggest oil refineries in the country.
They took their life savings and decided to come to America. Adelyn’s parents, along with their four daughters, came to NY on a Visitor Visa. Adelyn said that her family was one of the fortunate ones to be in a position where they could obtain a visa which is often hard to obtain and often unavailable to poorer families in many third world countries. Fortunately, Adelyn and her family had a path to citizenship through her grandfather who became a US citizen and petitioned for the family to get permanent residency once they were here.
Adelyn’s father, who had been an executive in the Dominican Republic, now worked at a factory and sometimes held three jobs at one time to make ends meet. One of the things he is most proud of is that despite all the hardships that he had to endure, he never asked for help from the US government to support his family. That is a big source of pride for him. He, along with his wife, worked hard, paid their taxes and saved enough money from their jobs to send all their children to Catholic School and their hard work helped create a better life for their children.
In this current political climate, it is easy to misunderstand the plight of the majority of immigrant families trying to come to the United States. Adelyn’s mother-in-law, Mrs. Lopez, came to this country for very different reasons than Adelyn and her family. Mrs. Lopez fled from a country, Nicaragua, where people were being persecuted, starved and killed due to the change in regimes at the time. The majority of immigrants being held at the US border right now are primarily families escaping situations as hostile as those that Mrs. Lopez described. Families seeking asylum need help!
Adelyn took a deep breath and said, “America was a beacon of hope for all people looking to create a better tomorrow for their families. We once were a country that gave asylum to people who were oppressed and in need of protection. Now we are a country that would rather turn a blind eye to the plight of the suffering.”
As I sat and listened to these stories, I realized that it is through listening to these stories that these mothers and children and families are not just another statistic, another “Immigrant” or attempt by this administration to de-humanize the term. It is through these stories that we realize these people are human and not so different than you and me. They are our friends. They are our family. They are women and mothers I share a Tres Leches cake with during brunch in Corona Queens. They are people I share my American dream with.
I looked down to see my daughter Lily crying and holding out her arms to me. I picked her up and, after a hug and a kiss, she continued playing with Evie. For that moment, she just needed her mother. I looked down at the two beautiful, innocent children- two innocent children that could now be in a cage in Texas waiting for judgement, waiting for their mother to hold them. Waiting for their mother to hold them and tell them everything was going to be alright.
I realize that it is not through hate, but through LOVE that we will persevere as a country. Together we can work with this administration to help find a more humane and just immigration policy. May we hold out our hands and our hearts to these mothers, fathers and children and help fight to stop this inhumane separation of families at our borders. I think about these mothers and realize in another life, I could be the mother praying for someone to fight for me when all hope is lost. I could be the one on the other side, my child ripped from my arms, praying for a new and better life.
I put myself in their shoes, and they are the reason why my daughter and I marched this weekend.
On Saturday, June 30th, people joined to march throughout the United States and around the world to demand an end to the separation of families at the U.S. border. For more information on the march and what can be done next, go to the Families Belong Together website.
Melissa Kuch is a World Mom from New York, USA and author of the young adult fantasy and adventure series, The Hypothesis of Giants.
Photo credit of “Keep Families Together Sign” to Jill Ion. This post has a creative commons attribution license.
Photo credit of the author’s daughter at the Families Belong Together March in Huntington, NY to Melissa Kuch.