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Category Archives: Orlando

Vivir es Increible

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Triqui/Trique Indian boys basketball team
Picture credit:  Unknown

Orlando was blessed to have many fine young athletes in town this week for a Basketball event, and one of the teams that made the news this morning on our local station, WESH TV was from Mexico.
Nothing new here, or was there?
This team of fairly small boys, as far as basketball players go, played without shoes.
But, this is not unusual for them, as they nearly always do so.

These boys come from one of Mexico’s poorest regions, a tiny place in the mountains of Oaxaca, that range from 4,000 to nearly 10,000 feet and the inhabitants are called the Trique/Triqui people, a blended group of Mixtec,   (place of cloud-people), who are known for their beautiful weavings.

This area and these people, are not new to me, as one of my favorite Anthropology Professors at CSUN, had related his summers there, for the past 20 plus years.
Every year, he would travel down to Oaxaca to spend a month with the people, then wrote and brought back what he learned about them to his students.

Years later, when I traveled to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, I felt that there were strong similarities between it and many places in Oaxaca.
They were both poverty stricken areas, that few outsiders came to and even fewer cared much about.

This young team makes news every time they play, mostly for their lack of shoes, but what people don’t understand is that their lack of shoes, are the least of their worries.
So many where they come from, are desperately poor, with food, shelter and personal safety at the top of their daily wants/needs list, and going without shoes, much lower on it.

Native or Indigenous Mexicans, are at a poverty level of about 80%, compared to the National level in the upper 20’s.

Many of these young players must walk two hours or more, on rough mountain roads just to get to their practices, and Basketball is about the only sport that can be played in such a difficult terrain.

For me personally, the hardest part of relaying this story to all of you, is in knowing that the country where these brave young players live, is in constant turmoil from outside political pressures.

A friend from school traveled down there years ago, quite concerned about the way the people were being treated and was never seen again.

“Accidents” can happen, to those who ask too many questions, or get too curious about local politics.

Just playing their games, must seem like great relief after enduring the conditions that surround them.

Whenever the team travels, they basically have become ambassadors for their people, and the state of Oaxaca, and Global generosity to them and their town, have followed them everywhere.

Their Head Coach Sergio Zuniga, was interviewed by WESH and his pride in their achievements was clearly evident as he spoke.

This week in Orlando, not only was the team gifted with shoes, so was their entire town.

Yes, back home things are very difficult, but as their Team jackets say, ” Vivir es Increible, life is incredible.”

Places to learn more:

Mexican youth basketball team plays shoeless in Orange County tournament

Hoop dreams of Mexico’s indigenous youth provide hope in ‘forgotten’ region

It’s Triqui to play around: Shoeless Mexican team plays exhibition match in LA

Youth Mexican Basketball Team Wins Big Playing Barefoot

Mexican Shoeless Basketball Champions Prove It’s About How You Play, Not What You Have

Trique People – Wikipedia

A History of the Triqui People

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Keeping Them All Safe

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The Autism infinity symbol        Picture  credit:  Eric…

 

There have been so many stories on our news recently about people and children wandering away from their families and home, I felt obliged to write about them.

For years after moving here, I often was alarmed by the numbers of elderly persons we saw here in various stages of Dementia or even Alzheimer’s, who are still driving and out on our roads.

What are their families, their doctors and the state of Florida’s DMV thinking?

These people need to be off of the roads, before they kill themselves and/or others.

They are not safe to drive.

They are also not safe to be left alone in their homes without any supervision.

The story today was about an autistic young man who had recently done this and his mother Donna chose to bring his/their story to the press in the hopes that others might be learn from it and also be helped.

She makes some really important points, especially about the fact that drowning is frequently the primary cause of death in a wandering autistic person.

Donna can also expect to be engaged in a battle,  at least here in Florida, where our politicians are still dragging their feet to allow extremely ill children to have access to the already approved medical marijuana, under the Charlotte’s web provision.

This mother wants to speed up the political process (bill) now being considered for an electronic tracker that will locate him quickly, if and when he does wander away again.

My thinking as a former Rehab and Geriatric Nurse, as well as the mother of a physically challenged son, is that there are others with challenges who should also have access to some sort of tracker, not just autistic children.

Here in our own neighborhood, an elderly man wandered away from his home weeks ago and still has not been found.

Quite often, patients in Nursing and other types of care facilities, walk right out the doors, often, with no one even noticing.

Thankfully, most of them are found before they are harmed.

But if they had a tracker on, this would protect them and save the caregivers at the facilities hours of searching for them.

The tendency to wander away is quite strong in those with Dementia, Alzheimer’s and other affective disorders, especially those with Autism.

So as this bill is being reviewed, in my opinion, it must absolutely cover and include providing tracking devices to all who need and will benefit from them.

Those who care for persons with emotional and/or mental or physical challenges, are often suffering in silence and forgotten about.

This is a terrible tragedy in our society.

Being a caregiver can and does drain these people to the point in some instances, of doing unspeakable things, even murder.

Unless and until you have been in their shoes, you may never understand the despair, the fear, the grief, the hopelessness and the guilt that they deal with on a daily basis.

So, if there is even one thing that we, their families, friends, co-workers, care givers or government representatives can do to alleviate any of it, we should do it without a single moment of hesitation.

Special children and adults are part of our Global family, they belong to all of us.

We need to, we must do, everything that we can, to keep them ALL safe.

 

Places to learn more:

New bill proposes voluntary program to monitor those with autism, other conditions

Senator Calls On Feds To Address Autism Wandering

What’s Different About The Brains Of People With Autism?

Autism

Dementia

Alzheimers

Marijuana stops child’s severe seizures

 

 

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Not Working

Wattsriots-burning
The Watts Riots in LA in 1965
Picture credit: Wikipedia

 

I have been watching the News for the past week with a very heavy heart,  as each day, as the events unfold in Ferguson, painful, ugly and difficult memories are brought back.

What is happening there,  is in many ways quite similar to what we in LA and the surrounding areas experienced with Rodney King, in the 1990’s.

And both of these are entirely too much like the LA Riots in Watts in the 1960’s.

Then there was the Trayvon Martin murder, here in Orlando and the Trial and the verdict that once again met with violent public reaction and out cries everywhere.

All of these tragic events, these sad places,  have touched my life, none in a good way.

That  week in  August of 1965 during the Watts Riots,  was a time of total violence and great turmoil and no one liked what was happening.

Few were sure, including the law enforcement, as to how to find a solution before the City was left in ashes.

In time, it did stop, but not before the deep scars were in place and bitter memories that would last for many, a lifetime.

Next came Rodney King, only this time it was brought right to my own front yard.

The Trial for those who brutalized King was held in my town of Simi Valley.

It was all such an ugly time for a tiny peaceful place.

It seemed to drag on forever and then the verdict came, that no one was prepared to handle, especially the Police.

I left West LA that day and drove towards home, wondering what may lie ahead.

I could not have been prepared for what came next.

As I tried to get off of the Freeway at my Exit, which was for the time of day that it was, unusually backed up onto the Freeway.

When I finally got to the bottom of the ramp, I saw why.

Every single car there was being stopped and examined by a uniformed patrolman, who asked to see ID proving that the person driving did indeed, live in this particular neighborhood.

This was a disturbing, frightening and very unpleasant experience.

My house was about a mile from the freeway and the troubled exit, but only two blocks from the hysterical scene that was happening at the Court House.

It looked like a war zone, or a movie set.

There were huge crowds of onlookers, countless TV crews, Police cars, SWAT crews, my God it was all just terrifying.

But our small town’s terror was about to be unleashed on all of the City, as the turmoil that day in Simi, quickly spread to all of LA and once again, as in the 60’s with Watts, the violence, looting, shootings and arrests, were soon out of control.

When it thankfully began to calm down many days later, we all wondered how and why this could just keep happening.

Why was it always black and white, white police, black victims?

Now once again, in Ferguson, this Country is experiencing another Racially inspired reaction, to what is now being called a racially motivated murder and the results are, as before, violent, dangerous, out of control crowds, venting their frustrations and setting the stage once again, for probably another ugly Trial.

God help us, why can’t we stop this pattern?

Why don’t we learn?

What will it take for this Country to mend our Racial wounds, to stop the Violence and to stop the Hate?

Why are so many, who should know better, doing all of the wrong things?

Governors, Police Chiefs, Judges, Lawyers,  everyone who should and could be using their years of wisdom and experience to calm things, seem to only be pouring fuel onto the already out of control fires.

For the lack of a better explanation, it seems that too often, these people care more about their political careers and futures, than doing what is right, or best, for what is happening right now.

Perhaps it is time for an uninvolved neutral, or third-party, to get involved in these kinds of tragedies because those who should know better and behave better, really could use some better ideas.

The ones they are using now, are just not working.

 

Places to learn more:

Watts Riot

Rodney King trial verdict announced

Shooting of Trayvon Martin

Governor Nixon orders National Guard to Ferguson

 

 

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Earth Day Memories, then and now~

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Stuntman Dar Robinson and Actor/Environmentalist Iron Eyes Cody, two kind and gentle men.

 

Many years ago in California, I had the privilege of meeting a person who was often shown in commercials to tug at the heart-strings of us all,  to treat our Planet or Mother Earth better.

This man and I were introduced one night at the Artists and Models Ball in the late 1980′s.

I had been sent to cover the event for the Entertainment section of the LA newspaper I worked for at the time.

Meeting him that night,  I was struck by his gentle, kind demeanor.

He truly was, exactly like the person he portrayed in the Environmental commercials for so many years.

His name was Iron Eyes Cody, or as those of us in California loved to call him, The Crying Indian.

He made a huge impact, just as he and this commercial were meant to do, on the status of a beleaguered Earth and his commercial was ALWAYS a central part of any California Earth Day event.

I will not discuss the controversy over his ancestry, it is not why I admired his work.

What this  man did then and will always do, is to make me aware of  the irresponsible,  often cruel way that Humans treat this place that they owe everything to, while showing her such little regard or respect.

What better way to shake up Environmental ignorance and empathy,  than the image of an Indigenous person disgusted and broken-hearted over  what humans do and have done to Mother Earth?

This commercial and the campaign worked, and began  a movement that started in California and spread throughout the country, to change or at least rethink, our bad behavior.

But that was then, what have we done as a species since then, to lessen our heavy footprint on this Planet?

Many groups and organizations in the United States are working tirelessly to reverse the damage already done, some are successful,  some are not.

The point is, that  because of Earth Day and the promotional awareness that  it brings with it, Environmental Issues remain on the table.

An example, this morning on our local news, was a story that made me smile.

Darden Restaurants Inc., whose home office is in Orlando, has begun a brilliant project.

At several of the restaurants in their chain, they are saving food scraps in a project that has them working together with  Organic Matters, who is a local organic recycler.

These scraps are then being used to feed chicken and cows.

The result of this new plan, is that  less food will end up in our land fills and many more animals will have a better, more natural food source.

It is a win-win.

Can the rest of the country consider picking this great idea up?

I have faith in us, with a little encouragement, we humans do try to get it right.

So, on this Earth Day, if you eat out somewhere, perhaps  you  might ask the owner or manager of the place, if they have heard of this idea and if they would be willing to follow suit?

We have nothing to lose and hearing about all of this, the Crying Indian may just be smiling from his final resting place.

God Bless you Iron Eyes, you were such a special man with a giant,  gentle heart.

I am grateful to have known you,  if only for just one night.

 

Places to learn more:

Darden turns scraps into animal feed

Food Waste Alliance

Organic Matters

 

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