BOSTON—A University of Massachusetts at Lowell poll released Thursday showed that
Elizabeth Warren has pulled ahead of her opponent, Republican Senator Scott
Brown, by 7 percent. Harvard College students think that their campaign
rallying has a lot to do with her recent success.
Crews, a member of the Harvard College Democrats, said that members of the
group and other students in his campus have “plugged” into Warren’s campaign.
said that the work Harvard students put into drawing attention to Warren’s
campaign “will likely draw Elizabeth Warren into attending events for college
students” and appealing to issues that college students care about like jobs
6787 Miles From Home-Views On International Adoption
By Ashley Lisenby
Ashleigh Wilson, a global studies teacher at Pulaski Middle School in Pulaski New York and mother of two, recalled how her life was changed because of her decision to adopt a child from Ethiopia in 2007.
- Courtesy of Travel.State.Gov A Service of the Bureau of Consular Affairs
“I wanted to pick a country I had a strong connection to,” Wilson said in a somewhat raspy voice over the sound of young children playing in the background and the poor reception of a cell phone. For Wilson Ethiopia was the country that stirred a deep connection within her.
Emma, now 4, was four months old when she became a part of the Wilson family in 2007. According to Wilson, Emma’s status at her time of adoption was abandoned “but we do have a mother’s name,” she said. The Wilson’s were not given information about Emma’s father, but said that they are “open, in the future, to trying to work and doing more research to find family members.”
According to Wilson establishing a connection with Emma’s biological family is important. She makes it clear that her family is committed to helping Emma know about her “rich culture and unique history.”
Wilson describes her daughter as smart and energetic and said that her addition to their family makes them better, stronger and more unique.
“We are definitely not the typical family, but I can’t imagine our family without Emma,” said Wilson.
The New York family has been so inspired by their inter-country adoption experience that they are looking to adopt from Ethiopia again. But the Ethiopian government’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Ethiopia’s primary adoption authority, threw a wrench into the Wilson’s plans that not only reduced the number of U.S. families eligible to receive Ethiopian children but also stirred movements toward rehabilitating international adoption programs.
Associated Press writer David Crary, wrote in his piece for the Boston Globe in early March, “Ethiopia, the number two source country for children adopted by Americans, implemented changes that could reduce the number of foreign adoptions by up to 90 percent.” The reduction, according to Crary’s article, was intended to reduce adoption fraud.
A large part of that fraud is deception marketed to U.S. families by desperate adoption agencies. “Westerners have been sold the myth of a world of orphans crises,” writes E.J. Graff, associate director and senior researcher at The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, in article “The Lie We Love”.
Graff writes that U.S. families are looking for children to rescue but most often those children in need of the most care are “sick, disabled, traumatized, or older than 5.” In turn adoption agencies often scramble to find children to satisfy the high demand produced by U.S. families.
Director of the adoption program at Children’s Hospital Boston Dr. Lisa Albers said, “There are not many options for families anymore.” She listed Russia, China, Guatemala and South Korea as countries that were recently popular countries that U.S. families sought to adopt children, but according to Albers, those numbers have reduced significantly.
The fact that Ethiopia climbed to the number two position as most popular country from which U.S. families adopt does not surprise Albers. “I don’t think Ethiopia is unique because the numbers and options are constantly changing,” Albers said.
The bottom line according to Albers is that “parents want children that are not only happy, healthy and successful, but also with no major neurological or developmental issues.” That option, however, is becoming more difficult as time goes on.
Among the challenges that Albers lists is the trauma and abuse that children from developing countries like Ethiopia may face because of a long history of ongoing war.
According to Albers there have been a number of Ethiopian children adopted by U.S. families whose adoptions have been finalized, meaning ending their custody of a child. “If families finalize an adoption legally and decide that this [adoption] is not what they expected then the adoption dissolves, the children are taken into custody of the adoption agency and found a new home,” said Albers.
“[Finalizing an adoption] looks bad for the sending country,” Albers said. She explained that in an instance where an inter-country adoption in the U.S. goes poorly the number of children available for U.S. families decreases.
“Some people would ethically say that foreign adoption is ruining culture and severing a connection, but families who support the process would say that it gives a child an opportunity to be apart of a family, education and nutrition, so why not continue the process,” she said.
Albers acknowledged that there are two sides to the international adoption debate, but firmly stated “inter-country adoption is a privilege, not a given.”
Over time, however, U.S. laws concerning international adoption have turned a “privilege” into an entitlement simply based on a family’s ability to provide a higher standard of living.
International adoption advocate and Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Bartholet declined both providing a statement and conducting an interview but referenced her various publications to speak on her behalf.
“In 1997 Congress passed the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA),” Bartholet writes in 2007 article “International Adoption: Thoughts On The Human Rights Issues”, “This law was designed to reduce the emphasis on keeping children with their family of origin, to place greater emphasis on children’s interests in growing up in nurturing, permanent homes.”
Bartholet states that those involved in international adoption should be committed to human rights and children’s rights. “[Children] need loving, nurturing parents to raise them. They need food and shelter and affection. They need protection from disease and disaster,” Bartholet writes. These basic human rights, however, are virtually unattainable in developing countries.
The lack of a country’s development however is no excuse for inter-country adoption according to UNICEF. The receptionist at the UNICEF Boston office declined to comment on UNICEF’s stance for fear of “misrepresenting the company.”
UNICEF states on its national web site, however, that while “inter-country adoption is among the range of stable care options” a child has “the right to know and be cared for by her or his own family” and that if a family is in need of assistance in order to care for a child that family should receive assistance.
The Joint Council on International Children’s Services, based in Virginia, specializes in providing assistance to developing countries. Rebecca Harris, director of Programs and Services was contacted via phone and e-mail for a statement, but refrained from responding.
According to Joint Council reports last year the organization helped 1.6 million children and families in Ethiopia. Joint provided services in health care, education, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment and family preservation and empowerment.
Of the services provided less than 0.1 percent of those services were for supporting inter-country adoption. An estimated 14 million U.S. dollars were spent on services for Ethiopia. The budget for this year is expected to reach 16 million dollars.
Despite the adverse conditions the Wilson family continues to pursue the adoption of another Ethiopian child. Wilson said she feared that her family would not be able to adopt another Ethiopian child after hearing the news that MOWA would reduce its number of international adoptions. Yet, Wilson admitted, “Anything with international adoption is uncertain,” but she said that her family remains hopeful.
A Different World: Beyond The Mexican Border
By Ashley Lisenby
To listen to clips of the interview, click on the link below
Mariana Ramirez-Navarrete Immigration Interview
A brown-haired, brown-eyed woman sits cross-legged on top of furrowed purple sheets in a white tae-kwon-do uniform. The orange belt around her waist becomes more visible as she adjusts her posture.
- Mariana Ramirez-Navarrete
Behind her is a sizable black-and-white print of Paris, as well as her own impression of “Landscape With Butterflies” by Spanish artist Salvador Dali. Across the room, “The Kiss” by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt is pinned to the wall. Works of art depicting life and love from foreign lands wait to hear stories of Mexican immigration.
A witness to both her mother’s hard work and the luxurious life-style of her grandparents Mariana Ramirez-Navarrete, 21, says, “In Mexico, like in most Hispanic countries, there is a big divide between social classes.”
She suggests that violence, political corruption and poverty are some reasons for class division in Mexico.
“You almost have to desensitize yourself,” she says, “you know that [the poverty] is there and you live around it, but you learn to turn your head because there is nothing you can do to change it.”
At age 11, Ramirez-Navarrete moved to Naples, Fla. to be with her mother, who by that time was married to an American she had met in Mexico City. It took a year and half for Ramirez-Navarrete to arrive in the U.S., the length of time it took to obtain immigration papers.
During the year and a half wait, Ramirez-Navarrete studied English, but she was concerned about “a general absence of culture.”
“In Mexico, you are surrounded by constant sensory overload,” she says. “The food is spicy and strong, music is always around and there is always noise and people."
The U.S., she says, was just a place where people were always working, getting off of work and waiting to return to work; a lifestyle driven by a “live to work” mentality she says, not “work to live.”
The circumstances by which Ramirez-Navarrete came to America were not fueled by unemployment like those which drive so many immigrants from Mexico, but she still looks at the anti-immigration sentiment in the U.S. from the perspective of a Mexican, not an American.
Ramirez-Navarrete says she is offended by Arizona legislation that treats Mexicans unequally. She challenges Americans to think of the destruction across the border.
The Mexican government, she says, does not have the means to stop the violence and drug trafficking because the gangs dominate the system. She attributes the strength of drug gangs in Mexico to high drug demand.
“If the demand wasn’t there from the American population to begin with,” she says, “the problem would be a lot different.”
Acts of violence in Mexico are committed with guns from the U.S. because “gun laws are so loose,” she says. From her perspective, many Americans support their right to bear arms, but do not consider the effects of U.S. gun regulations on Mexico.
She says, however, that immigration is more than a two-dimensional issue.
“Do I think it’s fair that people get to come here and have the same rights or live the same life I had to work so hard for? No, I don’t think that’s fair,” she says.
The issue of immigration is bigger than economics, Ramirez-Navarrete says. “It is a matter of humanity.”
This matter of humanity, according to Ramirez-Navarrete, is a desire to break out of the poverty cycle in Mexico and achieve the American Dream.
Most families that come to the U.S., Ramirez-Navarrete says, “come here thinking there is something better beyond that border, even if that’s not necessarily true.”
The Media And Public Health Professionals Discuss Ways To Forge A Healthy Relationship During Disasters
By Ashley Lisenby
BOSTON—A conference at Boston University’s Photonics Center brought two familiar groups together in an unfamiliar way Thursday morning. Health professionals and media experts did not meet on the familiar scene of a disaster, but rather in the Colloquium room of the Photonics building. Members from both fields discussed the medical and media attention Haiti received during its devastating earthquake more than a year ago.
- (Left to Right) Moderator R.D. Sahl, Thea James, MD; Larry Ronan, MD; Nate Nickerson, RN, DrPH; Monica Onyango, RN, PhD (Photo by Ashley Lisenby)
Haiti, unlike Japan, was “an open door” said Larry Ronan, a Massachusetts General Hospital physician. “If you were a chiropractor from Texas or a massage therapist from Canada, you could go to Haiti within 24 hours to help,” Ronan said.
Ronan, a civilian volunteer with the Navy aboard the USNS Comfort, has worked on disaster relief teams in Indonesia, New Orleans and, most recently, Haiti. Ronan told the audience that during relief efforts he is interested in how the military and civilians come together. The media fall under that civilian title.
The media, along with chiropractor or the message therapist, flocked into Haiti as a result of its “open door” policy toward foreign aid.
All of Ronan’s experience with disaster relief had not yet prepared him on how to deal with the media until an earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010.
“It was the first disaster relief I had been in where we basically took reporters on board and embedded them and they were going to be a part of our mission,” Ronan said.
Having reporters on the mission, however, proved to be more of a distraction.
“We have no training to deal with reporters, and that’s an issue,” Ronan said. But Ronan and his colleagues agreed that reporters also lacked training in dealing with health professionals.
To health professionals it is second nature to bring necessary resources like sunscreen, water, light imperishable foods and even malaria pills when travelling to underdeveloped countries.
“Your bag is always supposed to be packed. I have mine packed right now,” said Thea James, a doctor at Boston Medical Center and supervising medical officer on the Boston Disaster Medical Assistance Team.
But Ronan and James have common knowledge as experienced disaster relief aides that is frequently uncommon knowledge among reporters, especially reporters who are looking for a disaster story that is a “quick in and quick out,” said Monica Onyango Clinical Assistant professor of international health at B.U. School of Public Health.
Yet, it is a reporter’s quick approach to getting a disaster story that worries the professionals on the panel more than a reporter’s unpreparedness.
James said when she was on her way to Haiti for the first time, people she knew were skeptical and worried about her safety. According to James, those concerns were not because of their experience in Haiti but because “it was the image portrayed of the county” by the media.
- Nate Nickerson RN, DrPH (Photo by Ashley Lisenby)
Nate Nickerson, executive director of Konbit Sante—Haitian Health Partnership, shared an anecdote that he calls "missionaries with guns" incident, in which missionaries were arrested in Haiti for caring guns. When asked why they had guns the response was, “We saw the television. We saw what it was like here.”
Every member on the panel Thursday agreed that members of the media have a tremendous amount of power to influence the public.
But Nickerson said that the media have “awesome power to change events and that can be good and that can be bad.”
To ensure that the media does not misuse their power Nickerson gave the audience his four rules for reporting disasters that should not be broken.
“If you’re going to tell a story, it must be accurate, it must be contextualized somehow, it must shed light not just heat, and lastly when it gets voiced it is to the people affected. It isn’t just a conduit for NGOs and the heroes who’ve arrived on the scene,“ said Nickerson.
Nevertheless there is room for vindication for the reporter. When the media understands its power to create change the stories produced “can be cathartic,” Nickerson said, “and bring people together.”
For more information on the When Disaster Strikes: Reporting and Responding conference at Boston University on Thursday April 14, 2011 please visit the B.U. Center for Global Health & Development website.
Running Inspires Advocate, Aims To Get Homeless Back On Course
By Ashley Lisenby
BU News Service
Mixx, on the corner of Brighton Avenue and Chester Street in lower Allston, is a frozen yogurt spot that Joshua Warren, 25, likes to visit frequently. He fits so well into the urban setting of Allston’s college scene with his plaid short-sleeved shirt, jeans and flip-flops that one would hardly guess he is a budding marathon runner, much less one who trains with members of Boston’s homeless community.
Warren is the Resource Development Director for Directing through Recreation, Education, Adventure and Mentoring (DREAM), a mentoring program for Boston’s youth.
With a yellow notepad and pen in place, looking as if he is conducting an interview, Warren leans forward in his bright yellow seat to eat spoonfuls of cheesecake-flavored yogurt topped with granola and other healthy toppings from the serving station. He looks intent on not only devouring the treat, but also sharing his unique training experience leading up to the marathon.
“I actually started running this past summer. I had never run before,” says Warren. Before he set his sights on running he says he enjoyed rock and ice climbing.
However, he is not facing his latest adventure alone. He found some of his biggest supporters in members of Back On My Feet (BOMF), a Philadelphia-based program aimed at helping the homeless through running with a chapter in Boston.
BOMF “promotes self sufficiency among Boston’s homeless and running as an empowerment tool,” Warren says. The emphasis on running as empowerment made him “fall in love with running.”
Yet, Warren isn’t shy about saying that he is no pro. “I have never run more than 20 miles,” he with a grin. “So, the Boston Marathon will be my first marathon and my longest run.”
Warren is so in love with the sport and so enthused about the people at BOMF that he runs with the group three days a week before 6 a.m., starting at Hope House, a rehabilitation shelter in Roxbury. For Warren the training process has been enjoyable, and he finds it hard to run without a smile.
Joshua Warren, of DREAM, has been inspired by runners in a program aimed at helping to get the homeless back on track.
“Running showed me that there are a lot of things I can do that I didn’t I know I could do,” he says. “I work with an organization that shows kids that they can set the expectation for what they believe is possible in their lives.”
Hope House resident Chris, who declined to give his last name, echoes Warren’s sentiments about running saying, “Running helps me face challenges I didn’t think I could do.” According to some of the residents running can help to build self confidence, set routines and foster discipline.
Warren says the Boston Marathon will not be is only race this spring, but one of three. He originally made commitments to run in races in Vermont and Providence, R.I., but when a friend contacted him about an extra number for the Boston Marathon Warren thought, why not?
He says that he is surrounded by positivity at DREAM and now he is incorporating that positivity into his running experience.
“Now I am actually putting it into action for myself and realizing that I can run 26.2 miles if I work hard and decide that it’s something I can do.”