The Mountain from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Sunday, April 24, 2011
(Image from: candysporks.org)
As readers of my blog and Cynical Nymph's blog well know, the Comtesses, a group of women bloggers who share friendship and a love of Portlands, get fired up about all manner of topics. We have rapid email discussions about news items, blogs, books, films, clothes and accessories, our children, cats, dogs, James McAvoy (other actors or actresses are occasionally mentioned here, but let's be frank that The McAvoy dominates because of a minor obsession, excuse me, appreciation, on the part of one Comtesse). Usually we're pretty quiet on the weekends. [Redacted] and I will play Words With Friends, CN, Glam and I may exchanges photos of our kitties. CN and I might chat about books or corsets. Personal Failure doesn't always have much chance for exchanges on the weekends and so we keep it pretty low key. Unless we read something that is so objectionable it can't wait until Monday morning. Some like this, for instance:
Foster children would be allowed to get clothing only from second hand stores.
which was located by [Redacted] and forwarded to us late last night with the subject header "This makes me sad". It's also discussed over at Michigan Public Radio. (That bastion of elitist communism, that should be destroyed by cutting all congressional funding to Public Broadcasting Corporation/National Public Radio, because it is totes obvious that they are UnChristian and UnAmerican. So help me we had better destroy them just like those feckers at Planned Parenthood, who kill unborn babies and make it possible for people to have sex without getting pregnant, which is against God's will and especially denies us the ability to have an increasing number of taxpayers and consumers for... Oh, wait a minute... I digress)
Yeah, Michigan State Senator Bruce Caswell thinks that his state really needs to make sure that money in those clothing allowances for kids is spent on clothing, goddamit! Of course, the best way to do that is to make them buy used clothing at Salvation Army or Goodwill stores. Caswell's statement:
"I never had anything new," Caswell says. "I got all the hand-me-downs. And my dad, he did a lot of shopping at the Salvation Army, and his comment was -- and quite frankly it's true -- once you're out of the store and you walk down the street, nobody knows where you bought your clothes."
According to MPR, Gilda Jacobs, the CEO of Michigan's League for Human Services was rather dismayed.
"Honestly, I was flabbergasted," Jacobs says. "I really couldn't believe this. Because I think, gosh, is this where we've gone in this state? I think that there’s the whole issue of dignity. You’re saying to somebody, you don’t deserve to go in and buy a new pair of gym shoes. You know, for a lot of foster kids, they already have so much stacked against them.”
I posted the link on my personal Facebook page and one of my American friends said: "Honestly, how do people think of these "solutions" in the first place?? And how do they have the balls to actually say them out loud?" (Hence the Picard image above...) A British friend, said "I'm sorry. I am having trouble stretching my head around this."
The Comteseses had a lot to say about Mr. Caswell's splendid plan, too. I'm giving you the short version.
Cynical Nymph: "This is awful. I get wanting to make sure the money goes to clothes (which is what the bill is nominally about, according to some comments), but oh my word, this is just hateful."
Personal Failure: "fuck? we hate foster children now? oh, right, poor and possibly brown. got it."
CN: "Duh. Also, don't know if you knew, but thrift stores are renowned for having the bestest A'murr'cin bootstraps there ever were!"
PF: "they have, however, had all their pulling used up already."
Glam: "It makes me want to cry. :( (Once I got over my jag, I'd be ready to find that asshat and slap the taste out of his mouth.)"
PF: "at which point he'd forbid foster children from tasting things because he couldn't."
[Redacted]: "I'm with the commenter who said that guy gets paid with tax dollars, so I say he can only drive used cars and buy used office equipment. Stewardship, right?"
Well, I have to admit that I was pretty much dumbstruck by the whole thing. (I believe I said something along the lines of "Unfuckingbelievable"?) But you know, if evil foster children are misappropriating clothing money from the great state of Michigan... o_O Although, in actuality, my mind sorta spun at the whole idea of finding the sizes that one might need for a given child in a thrift store, and how many thrift stores a foster parent might have to visit, especially since not all of them carry children's or youth sized clothing. (Visions of the challenge of squeezing Snow White's 34DDs into a prom dress bought in a Goodwill or Salvation Army that just happened to fit her and wow, made her feel like she was going to the prom just like any other kid in her high school, or fitting Tanya into anything regular sized because she's got that dwarfism thing going on, or hey, how's about underwear bought in these stores or what about shoes? I bet those shoes are gonna be all nicely broken in, in all the right spots. Because all kids have the same gait, right? And even if you found a pair that fit you and the heels were worn the opposite of the way you normally wear shoes, all that fuss about achy-ness from wearing the differently worn shoes is just... fuss! Poor feet are strong feet! Or they better be...) But then I started feeling excited for Mr. Caswell, because he is just so insightful about how to save his state money! His plan is so very clever and so many people, maybe even Paul Ryan (oooo! ahhhhh!), are going to be needing a lot of his time and assistance now that he's coming up with these great ideas! Yes, I was struck by how experienced Mr. Caswell is about buying clothing for children in a wide range of ages and sizes and needs in thrift stores. He's spent way more time looking than I have, clearly. As we all know, thrift stores have the widest selections and the best discounted prices for everything. Plenty of clothes that really suit all shapes and sizes and their stuff is always in almost new condition, so that yes, indeed, as you walk down the street, no one would know you bought your clothing looking like it was already worn or, um, I mean gently used, because that's all that they have in Salvation Army and Goodwill in Michigan, of course. And even if the clothes and shoes were looking a bit worn or faded, hey, people will probably just think you're poor, and really, if you're in foster care, you are poor, right? (One commenter on MPR, Lyttle_Bird, said : "The gift card idea wouldn't save the state any money" but it will sure keep those poor people from getting above themselves, won't it?" Has LB got it, or what?!) I'm also struck about how much Caswell understands the foster child experience. I'm sure he's been in lots of foster homes and spent oodles of time with children in care and that in his state, these children are just spoiled rotten, always getting overfed with the best food, having posh rooms and tons of things like all the other kids. Getting new clothes or shoes or undergarments on top of all that would just be the final straw that would ruin their characters by providing them with excess.
But Michigan has other fine plans in play to save their state money. Cynical Nymph came across this little gem, for instance, which led me to:
Let me tell you, it is worth 9 minutes of your time to watch that report.
The successes of Catherine Ferguson Academy for Young (Pregnant) Women, and its demise caught the attention of E.D. Kain at Forbes. Among the stats for the school were a 90% graduation rate, and 100% chance of college admission for graduates, since it was a requirement for graduation that you be admitted to a college or university. Of course, such programs are expendable because the very last thing that Detroit needs are teenage moms who are getting an education and bettering themselves so they stand a chance of getting jobs that will allow them to support themselves and their children rather than subsist on public funds like the WIC. The letter-writing campaign and sit-in staged by the school really just show that this place needs to be closed down. Those teachers and especially the pregnant girls needed to be arrested. Who the heck did they think they were? Sure it's April and many were no doubt close to graduation, but they can just sort it all out, including their daycare options if needs be, later, okay?
Ferguson's successes, which might, on the face of it, look like something the Detroit Public School system would want to hold onto, made no difference to appointed Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb, whose powers obviate the entire elected School Board's power to make decisions. (Elections = Pointless?) He decided the school was just as worthless as a whole bunch of other schools, evidently.
As Rachel Maddow's rather frightening report states, the idea of side-stepping democracy in poor areas is taking hold in Michigan. Maddow mentions the idea of dictators and it seems potentially hyperbolic.
Unless you start having more people like Bruce Caswell and Robert Bobb dictating. Because then, my friends, I think we are going to be looking at a very different America.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Thursday, April 21, 2011
digitally modified from a photo of unknown attribution
- -- Senator Hubert H. Humphrey, remarks at the dedication of the Hubert H. Humphrey Building, November 1, 1977.-Congressional Record, November 4, 1977, vol. 123, p. 37287.
When I entered Marina's life in 2007 I was puzzled by all the stuff that was flying around like a maelstrom around her. Her foster care management agency claimed they didn't know what was going on or what to do. She was residing in a behavioral-focused Agency for Persons With Disabilities Group Home that claimed she was a "very difficult consumer." (Consumer is what they call their residents in these homes- they are consumers of their services.) When I went to her school to meet with her Special Education Specialist, I felt like the maelstrom stopped. This quite polished and elegant woman sat me down in her dingy office on the cushionless, well-worn chair and had my rapt attention for over an hour as she took time to tell me of her, and of Marina's teacher's, concerns about the young woman. She was being sent to school on days she menstruated with no feminine products, often already soiled with menstrual blood, and in clothes that appeared to have been bought used† and many sizes too large. She was aggressive, biting people or herself until she bled, wailing, grunting, crying, agitated, dirty, smelly, and in general, miserable. This woman and Marina's teacher had reported this to the Florida Abuse Hotline multiple times. The young woman I saw in the classroom was slumped over and almost non-responsive on her desk. Today, I was told, she had hardly been awake at all and now they thought she was being over-medicated. The teachers, several teachers, who came to talk to me told me that they had known her for years and knew her parents, who had surrendered her to the state and that the young woman had deteriorated in state custody terribly. I was, to say the least, shocked. First I was shocked that all these people in what was supposed to be this "F" rated school were taking all this time and trouble to talk to me when they were so busy and understaffed. But the stories they told me- of having to take her to shower her off because she was so filthy, of their getting school uniforms or food for her with their own money, left me utterly speechless. They suggested that I check out the Group Home she was living in and one of them broke confidentiality to tell me that two other young ladies who had been in the same home at their school had been removed from it by family members who said they found the conditions there unacceptable. I reported the whole thing to my supervisor and then met with the assigned GAL who was extremely reticent about doing an unannounced visit at Marina's Group Home. So... I went with her.
Entering this Group Home was sad thing. Marina was indeed the only "consumer" still living there, although the owner had several other homes that were not empty. It was passibly clean but dark, minimally furnished and Marina was in bed, on a Saturday afternoon, wearing the same clothes I'd seen her in the afternoon before at school. She smelled bad, wouldn't get up and rocked when we entered and tried to talk to her. Her well-intended GAL had had only baby or younger children cases before and had no idea of what to expect from a APD Home, or a severely developmentally disabled youth. But even she saw that this was not what to either expect or accept. The Group Home owner, who I later reported in part for the conditions in the home and in larger part for many other things, was short staffed and said the staff she had was frustrated. Marina wasn't being medicated consistently and clearly some of the staff that tended her just simply didn't care about her hygiene or much of anything else. But clearly the Group Homeowner didn't care, either. I took over the case as GAL in late 2007 and one of the first things I did was recommend we get Marina out of this home and into a better one. Her Case Manager concurred and said he thought he'd agree with any home that I could recommend. I interviewed several prospective providers with the assistance of a very helpful team at APD and settled on a home that was run by a woman who had worked at an aggregate care facility (that's wraparound residential, medical, dental, occupational, vocational and rehabilitations services for the disabled) in Miami, called the Community of Landmark. After closure of that facility in 2005 she had opened a series of group homes in Miami with staff drawn from the women and men she had worked with for decades. They offered a bright and airy home, a vast amount of experience, full staff, behavioral analyst services that appeared to be quite detailed, and recreational therapy that might help her lose weight or at least be fitter, since I was concerned about a family history of fairly serious diabetes and high blood pressure. They seemed confident they could help her have a better life, were willing to facilitate visits by her parents, who still cared about her and were so worried about her. At that point I was mostly just confident she would be safer and cleaner.
This is the beginning of where the Florida taxpayer needs to really pay attention, okay?
Marina moved over the Christmas holidays. She had to be taken to the emergency room within a day or two. Baker Acted because of a meltdown, because change is so hard for autistics? Oh no. No, not at all. The Group Homeowner called me and said she and her staff decided there was something wrong, that she was ill, that she was probably in pain. A staff member noted her urine was dark and didn't smell right. Always given to stress biting of her own wrist, Marina was having a field day on that wrist. But that was her only sign of adjustment issues to the new home: that she was biting herself. Where was the expected affect? She seemed really... flat. No, the GHowner told me resolutely, there was something about her affect that was just off. They didn't know her all that well, but they were pretty sure she wasn't comfortable. So the Group Homeowner insisted on taking her to the ER, even though she didn't have all the placement documentation for her yet. Good thing, too, because Marina, it turned out, had a fairly nasty urinary tract infection. What's reality of things when you're functioning with the intellectual capacity of a toddler? Do you learn to toilet on your own? Hmmm. Maybe not. But nor may you be happy lying or sitting in your own urine for long periods of time and getting cold and smelly. Because you can produce a lot of urine when you're 5' 6" tall. So maybe sometimes, you exhibit a little more control and hold it. But... wait a minute... if you're nonverbal, how do you tell someone you need to go? Hmmm. YOU DON'T. Then there was the whole business of the fact that she was doing a lot of... well, how graphic does my grown-up audience want me to be? See, just because you've got the intellectual capacity of a 2 year old doesn't mean that you don't have the hormonal drive of an 18 year old. Mother Nature, wow, she's got goals. So masturbation, including public masturbation and self-stimulatory behaviors of all sorts are really common in the disabled population that Marina exemplifies. And so is rectal digging. And really, when you put those three things together, it's not at all hard to see how you might get a urinary tract infection, is it?
Toileting habits is where we begin, people. Bathroom schedules. Staff that pays attention and makes notes. Staff that has experience reading non-verbal cues that indicate that a person may be in discomfort. Maybe you can't pay someone to care but you sure can pay someone to care for you. A myriad of changes ensued in Marina's life. Her hair, which had been a dirty, too tight-braided mess on top of a raw and irritated scalp, was washed and over the course of several days, so that she didn't end up in stimulatory overload and start biting herself or others, slapping herself or banging her head, was carefully re-braided. Clothes were bought with her social security funds, toenails were trimmed, fingernails clipped short so she couldn't scratch herself and, gasp!, painted a pink shade that seemed to make her smile. She went back to school in early January in new clothes, with a uniform shirt and with a sheet of contact numbers for Group Home staff members and changes of underwear and feminine sanitary products in her backpack. A more comfortable harness, required for her bus ride to school, was purchased. The staff slowly began to get to know Marina and inquired about her dental care (hadn't been to a dentist since 2006 and her teeth were thick with tartar) and whether maybe we could ask the dentist (since she'd have to be under sedation anyway for the exam and cleaning and any fillings) if he could round off her eye-teeth so she couldn't gouge quite so deeply into her wrist when she was agitated and biting. A wristband, just like those worn by tennis players, appeared on her wrist to cover the area and extras were sent in her backpack to school. She was moved to a bedroom with a big window, because she likes sunshine and looking out, whereas another young lady new in the home appeared to be agitated by windows and things going on outside. Anyway, a few weeks later, this is what was on the cover of the report I presented to my beloved Judge:
That was in early 2008. I eventually became Marina's permanent legal guardian, after promising her parents that she would be taken good care of, even after she was out of the Dependency Court's extended jurisdiction at age 19. Yesterday, Wednesday, I participated in what is called a QSI interview with someone from the APD at Marina's Group Home. The QSI, or Questionnaire for Situational Information, is where they capture what they call information about "your life and need for service and support." That's code for saying it's where they try to figure out if you need all this stuff they're paying your Group Home provider for providing to you. If you don't participate, you can be cut off from funding or at a minimum your funding can be sharply reduced. During the course of the interview it was first determined that Marina could not be interviewed herself (that nonverbal thing is such a drag....) and then that she:
- Needs scheduled trips to the bathroom and hygiene assistance in the bathroom.
- Needs assistance bathing herself safely.
- Needs assistance dressing and prompting to remained appropriately dressed in public.
- Needs assistance selecting and cooking food for her meals because is not able to do so safely herself.
- Needs assistance feeding herself, both in the form of provision of smaller meals, especially at school, where she is likely to eat too quickly (choking risk) or too slowly (frustration when asked to transition and has not finished meal) and to not steal food that looks attractive from peers thereby putting herself at risk of harm from those peers. Also must have all food prepared in small bite-sized portions as she cannot use utensils other than a spoon.
- Needs regular recreational activity to prevent further weight gain and to keep blood sugar in normal range and blood pressure low.
- Needs redirection from self-injurious behaviors that include biting self, pica of her own stool, rectal digging, masturbation with objects, and hitting herself.
- Needs constant supervision in any public location to prevent wandering.
- Needs assistance managing her medications for aggressive behavior and anxiety.
- Needs assistance for going to doctor for medication and overall health management.
- Needs assistance for dental care because she must be fully sedated and needs watchful recovery time afterwards to prevent falling etc.
- Needs careful monitoring because she appears to be unable to communicate in any clearly identifiable fashion when she is in pain or has any other needs, whatsoever.
- Needs full-scale removal assistance in the event of a disaster.
Not surprisingly all of the above was deemed highest tier, around-the-clock care. I feel so lucky to have identified someone who can meet Marina's needs and so worried to think that maybe they may not be able to continue. Because the many good people who work in her home work hard for the six women living there. Paying people to provide that level of care does not come cheaply.
Just look at that before and after photo again. Every day of her life 'before' led to what you see in that before picture. She communicated the only way she knew how about her misery- she hurt herself, she hurt others. She was Baker Acted a number of times because of her uncontrollable aggression, which I'm going to go out on a limb and call her justifiable outrage.
If Rick Scott had gotten his cuts, how many APD Group Homes would end up being like that first home that Marina was living in?
I'm betting quite a few would.
❧ ❧ ❧
So Florida Taxpayer, here's your assignment. I want you to try to imagine that Marina doesn't have anyone to make sure she takes her bathroom breaks and how much her hospitalization for the ascending UTI that becomes a kidney infection might cost? Or what if she bites herself because she has pain from a UTI and gets a worse infection from that bite, like MRSA, that requires expensive care? Or what if she bites or otherwise injures a staff worker in an understaffed Group Home who then goes on disability leave because they can't work. What if she eats too fast and chokes and she deteriorates to an even lower level of functioning? Or what if someone takes their eyes off her and she simply wanders away when they are on an outing?
Dean Cannon, Florida's Speaker of the House, the man who thinks that uterus is an ugly word, is going to resume his drive on trying to limit reproductive choice in my state next week, evidently. I ask, for about the millionth time on this blog, why if life still in the womb is so damn sacred, life that is already here, in the form of dependent children, the disabled, the genuinely mentally ill or homeless is somehow counted as less sacred than a mere clump of cells in a uterus?
The disabled in my state have no voice other than that of those who try to provide care for them or who are willing to stand up and advocate for them. The truly decent people of this state, the ones with the real family values, for their fellow human family, are those like the teachers in Marina's school, spending time they don't have to safeguard her, or those at the Behavioral Services of Brevard, who were willing to take salary cuts of as much as 25% just to try to keep serving their clients who would otherwise be literally service-less. It's not about conservatives demanding that people take responsibility to pay for their own healthcare or disability needs nor is it about maintaining or creating tax cuts for Florida residents. But it is, most assuredly, about taking responsibility. And being willing to lead. Being willing to say that government does have a moral imperative to safeguard society's vulnerable members.
Decent and moral people of any reasonable financial wherewithal do not deny the disabled their duly needed care, Governor Scott. I hope that you've seen the light for real on the topic. But I, like so many others, am not holding my breath.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Friday April 15th, 2011 Waveland, MS
Dead sea turtle on the beach in Waveland Mississippi, painted red by the Institute for the Marine Mammal Studies so it wont be counted a second time, left on the beach until a crew comes to remove it.
An unprecedented number of dead young Kemp's Ridley and Loggerhead sea turtles have washed up on the shores of Mississippi along the Gulf of Mexico starting almost a year after the BP oil spill.
Test are being done on the high number of turtle and dolphin corpses found on the beaches but results have not been released. ~ Julie Dermansky
Saturday April 16- Gulfport Mississippi
All images, and text captions, in this post: © Julie Dermansky, All Rights Reserved, Used With Permission
To President Obama, the US regulatory bodies involved, the US Congress, Florida Governor Rick Scott, the Florida Legislature and most of all to the Big Oil PACs:
I will NEVER forget the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, all the cheap cutting of corners and guidelines and the lies built into their safety plans that were not worth the paper they were printed on. I'm getting my Nissan Leaf in the Summer (been on order for a full year now!) and I'm going to fuel it with hopefully safer-than-Fukushima nuclear generated power from Turkey Point.
So don't kid yourself into thinking that everyone has too short an attention span to remember what BP, Transocean, Halliburton did to the Gulf of Mexico and all our marine and wetland life a year ago.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Image credit: Empathic Perspectives (and I am so hoping this is photoshopped....)
As to how big a deal Greg Mortenson had become? Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 and 2010 by members of Congress. Your president gave him $100,000 from his Nobel Peace Prize funds. Three Cups of Tea, Mortensen's first book and bestselling memoir, helped to found and raise $60M USD for the Central Asia Institute. Some of that money came from kids and schools. One of my GAL kids gave money because she thought it was "the Christian thing to do." (Like kids in foster care have money to burn???? “In 2009, schoolchildren donated $1.7 million to Pennies for Peace. But CAI’s total 2009 outlay for the things P4P is supposed to pay for—teachers’ salaries, student scholarships, school supplies, basic operating expenses—amounted to a paltry $612,000." - Jon Krakauer) People who could ill afford it gave to this cause. And they were burned. Money from those funds was evidently funneled directly into promoting Mortensen's books under the guise of such promotion being "outreach" and "fundraising". Some of that fundraising was travel, which required private jets, of course. ("In 2009 CAI spent more than $1 million to promote sales of Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into Schools, and another $1.4 million to fly Mortenson around in chartered jets.” - Michelle Goldberg) Profits from the sales of the books do not go to the CAI, however. Did I mention Mortensen's nice spread in Bozeman yet? I'm sure you get the picture.
Yes, he founded and supported, with his voice, a magnificent cause.
But let me tell you, if you read Krakauer's article, it also supported him.
Let us hope that the magnificent cause survives the storm. Because it will be a travesty if Greg Mortensen's future of possible fraud charges (a rolling stone, when sticky gathers moss) impacts the public's trust for programs like those that CAI has promoted and been strongly associated with. Actually, agencies that had partnered with CAI are reportedly fleeing the association.
Who can blame them?
Pennies for Peace
(Image credit: Amy Frost for The Oklahoma Daily)
Ah, Mr. Greg, Mr. Greg... From the elaborate fabrications to the fraudulent financial statements to the fewer-than-claimed built, but then woefully unfunded and teacherless empty school buildings, it all just takes my breath away. (Just look at page 7 of Krakauer's article, with claims that Mortensen's charity Central Asia Institute has issued overtly fraudulent financial statements and that a former treasurer on the CAI's Board of Directors resigned saying "Greg regards CAI as his personal ATM." Unless you've read Mortenson's books, it probably wouldn't be worth it to recount some of Krakauer's interviews, including the particularly devastating interview with Mansur Khan Mahsud, a Pakistani Think Tank scholar, who was among those purported to be "Taliban kidnappers" who went on a congenial trip with Mortensen into Waziristan ('kidnappers' who, I might add, can present photos with him holding an AK-47 according to the 60 Minutes episode.)
As Krakauer notes in his Three Cups of Deceit, Greg Mortensen has done some good. He is (was? because I doubt we'll be seeing much of him from here on out...) a tireless advocate for girl's education. And yet he also says baldly that Mortenson has "recklessly betrayed (this) trust, damaging his credibility beyond repair."
As Krakauer notes in his Three Cups of Deceit, Greg Mortensen has done some good. He is (was? because I doubt we'll be seeing much of him from here on out...) a tireless advocate for girl's education. And yet he also says baldly that Mortenson has "recklessly betrayed (this) trust, damaging his credibility beyond repair."
So what, you say, lots of charities commit fraud or exhibit appalling waste of funds. But you know what? Lots of charities don't go into schools all across America and tell kids that they should skip lunch and make a difference in the life of another child. And they don't have those kids sit down after Sunday dinner and watch 60 Minutes and have their trust so shaken.
Sure there are worse things than ruining the trust among young people, who will be facing a hard future with waning resources on this planet, negating their hope that someone will take their money and do the good they promised with it. No, the immediate risk is to the potential perception that organizations that aid learning for girls and young women, are not worth your giving. As Michelle Goldberg puts it, fraud by Mortensen raises doubts for all similar programs in the minds of the giver. And it's a tough economy in which to be asking people to give.
Goldberg reports Shalini Nataraj at the Global Fund for Women said, sadly, of the revelations about Mortensen “It raises cynicism about the role of nonprofits in general, because I think that all of us who are in this space now are going to have to prove ourselves or do that much more to re-engage with our public, especially those who are not already donors.” Adds New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, author of the empowering Half the Sky, said “It's probably true that advocates sometimes exaggerate how easy it is to help. But I worry that the latest round of sour news will leave people thinking it's almost impossible to help.”
Evidently I'm in good company, then, for wondering who will pick up the slack in the sector of educating Pakistani and Afghani girls. I contributed to CAI on a modest level (I'm sure Obama, Krakauer and quite a few others have way more to steam about.) And I sponsor Fatima, a 41 year old Afghani woman, married mother of 12, through Women for Women International. While I'm glad to think she will learn a trade and some financial skills and be eligible for a microloan, I'd like to think her daughters, as well as her sons, of course, might learn to read and write in Pashto. That just got a little bit less likely after Sunday night. It just got a bit harder.
The children of Pakistan and Afghanistan that were to have been helped by CAI, and those who might have been recipients of charitable contributions for their education to other organizations deserved so much better.
Mr. Mortenson, I would have been quite happy with modest truths to further your cause, similar to those you began with at the American Himalayan Foundation in 1994. And I, like Tom Hornbein, who as a true believer, was on the Board of CAI until he resigned in 2002, and Jon Krakauer, Barack Obama and so many others who were carried by the beauty of your mission, mourn the potential for loss of what that mission promised. Hornbein put it best in a note he wrote to Krakauer and with which Krakauer closes his article:
“My transcendent emotional feeling is grief for the loss
of what might have been,” Hornbein wrote. “Like you, I feel
as if I was stupidly conned, wanting to believe in the cause
and its value and Greg’s motivations. Part of me still wants
to believe that there was/is something sincere in what he was
setting about to do to change the world a bit for the better.
Another part of me is just downright angry at his irresponsibility
to the cause with which he was entrusted, the lives of
so many whom he sucked in and, in effect, spit out, and not
least Tara (his wife) and their kids and other loving bystanders to
the play…. I wish I understood the pathology that has compelled
the unending need to embellish the truth so flagrantly. With
one hand Greg has created something potentially beautiful
and caring (regardless of his motives). With the other he has
murdered his creation by his duplicity.”
But then I guess that killing of dreams thing is a story as old as time, isn't it? Recently I was joking with the other Comtesses that Cynical Nymph was misnamed and that she ought to be something like Inspiring Nymph. I, on the other hand, have reached new depths of cynicism. Perhaps I should change the name of the blog to Cynical Crone?
Photograph by Giuliano Mangani, My Shot
The slim sun of February heats the ground waiting for the spring.
Rumors that I might return to blogging are probably gravely exaggerated but I might have a post up later.