For many of us, issues of poverty and social injustice in the world seem overwhelming. Its not often that we find an opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of impoverished children in far away places - places like the slums of Guatemala City.
An ever growing number of people in the Traverse area have found just such an opportunity by becoming involved in Great Lakes Friends of Safe Passage.
Safe Passage is an extraordinary program in Guatemala started by one young woman who was courageous enough to act boldly when she saw suffering. Safe Passage is now an internationally recognized non-profit working to improve the lives of impoverished families living on the periphery of Guatemala Citys enormous garbage dump.
Safe Passage was founded by Hanley Denning, a young educator from Maine who traveled to Guatemala in 1999 to learn Spanish. In response to what she saw, she sold her belongings and used the modest proceeds to found a program to help children foraging in the dump to attend school.
Safe Passage has grown to now serve nearly 600 children per year, from preschool to high school, providing tutoring, school supplies, nutritional support, a health clinic, and other services which help children receive an education and break out of generational poverty. Within a safe environment, every child participates in an integrated program that fosters optimism, good health, educational achievement, self esteem, and confidence.
Tragically, last January, Denning was killed in an automobile accident in Guatemala leaving everyone who knew her or her story in shock. Since her death, the outpouring of support from people around the world, as well as the determined effort of the board of directors, staff, and volunteers of Safe Passage have allowed service to children to continue uninterrupted.
Traverse area residents have been very involved in keeping Hanleys vision alive. Over 40 area residents have traveled to Guatemala as volunteers. Students have held coin drives and fundraisers in their schools, local businesses have made donations, children have created artwork to sell, and a student and two professors from Northwestern Michigan College recently returned from a site visit to Guatemala to explore options for developing an educational partnership.
The Great Lakes Friends is hosting a “Summer Fiesta to benefit the children of Safe Passage. The event, Journey to Guatemala, will be held on Tuesday, July 17 at the Hagerty Center on NMCs Great Lakes Campus, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. It will feature a virtual visit to Safe Passage, live music, food and drink, silent and live auctions of Guatemalan arts and crafts, as well as a short film tribute to founder Hanley Denning. Tickets are $25 each, and can be purchased at the door. Come celebrate the power of what can be accomplished when people join together!
More information about Safe Passage is available at www.safepassage.org
Elizabeth Kushman TC
Drugging kids for profit
Three cheers for activist Ben Hansens detective work to expose the shameless overdrugging of Michigan kids with dangerous psychiatric drugs under the approval and authority of the Michigan Department of Community Mental Health, which oversees the Medicaid and foster care programs.
There is a nationwide trend to raid state Medicaid coffers by putting as many people as possible on very expensive anti-psychotics such as Zyprexa. Eli Lilly, the maker of Zyprexa, is currently being sued by the attorney generals of eight states for fraudulently marketing Zyprexa for unapproved uses.
Montanas suit claims Lilly instructed its representative to minimize and misrepresent the dangers of Zyprexa, affirmatively and consciously placing company profits above the public safety. It goes on to state, This failure to warn was designed and intended to maximize company profits. Zyprexa has been linked to excessive weight gain and increased diabetes risk.
On March 17, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Ohio doctors prescribed Zyprexa 165,000 times to Medicaid patients in 2006. More than 13,000 of those prescriptions went to kids under 19.
Recently, I spoke to Mark Matus in the Michigan Dept of the Attorney Generals Healthcare Fraud Division and urged him to investigate if Eli Lilly had fraudulently marketed Zyprexa in Michigan. He acknowledged that Michigan Medicaid spends millions of dollars on Zyprexa but seemed unconcerned that there might be any fraud going on. I sent him a package of news articles detailing the basis of these suits again urging him to take action. Info on the many suits involving Zyprexa can be found at www.psychsearch.net//lawsuits.html. I never heard back from Mark Matus, and wonder just what kind of Healthcare Fraud Division is being run under Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox.
While Michigan is in a severe budget crunch, there seems to be no lack of our tax dollars available to drug kids with expensive, dangerous psychiatric drugs that are not even approved for use on children in the first place. Its an outrage.
Ernest Ryan Temperance
Flaws in the test
Joseph Pasulkas method for confirming global warming is not as simple as he would lead us to believe (Simple Test, June 28).
Comparing temperatures at points around the globe with those recorded in 1907 would be a valid process only if the environments near the measuring devices had not changed.
In a great many locations, the thermometers are now influenced by the heat given off by high density living: homes, buildings, factories, pavement, airports, traffic. A temperature increase since 1907 at a given place is indicative only of local warming, not global warming.
Thermometers located away from population centers may show little change, and in fact there are many areas of the globe (Antarctica for example) that have been experiencing cooling in recent years.
Michael LeButt Cheboygan
Some date errors occurred in a recent issue as a result of faulty information:
-Charlevoix Art Fair was on July 14-15; not July 7 as previously listed.
-The Frankfort Art Fair is on August 17-18; not July 17-18 as previously listed.