NEWS - May, 2006

Tragedy in Pakistan

submitted by Jany Jacob, Senegal 95-97

Greetings all,

The latest UN estimates are at about 20,000 dead.

DAWN, the largest national newspaper in Pakistan, reports that the devastation in the Pakistani Kashmir is virtually complete with Muzafferabad (the capital city) being 70% leveled. Visit their website for more news and aerial view of the city.Pakistan boys injured in earthquake

They report that a British Rapid Rescue team is already in Islamabad pulling the dead and the injured out of the ten-storied building that collapsed in Islamabad.

Turkey has also sent rescue teams.

It is reported that the US has sent eight heavy helicopters; almost every helicopter in Pakistan (civil and military) is in service of the rescue and relief missions.

Most of the villages and towns in the North are built on mountainsides so an earthquake can slide a town into oblivion. The huts people live in are built of rocks piled on top of each other thus and earthquake can bring it down on top of the people living inside.

The local Pakistan Association has mobilized to collect material and money and drop-off points are being established:

I know we are all suffering from calamity fatigue but we cannot stop. No matter how bad others have suffered, we must all continue to assist others as misfortune befalls them.

I thank you for taking the time to read this.

Jeff Siddiqui, Associate Broker
Western Associates Real Estate
Seattle, WA 98103
pager: (206) 994-7398


Book Drive for Slidell, LA, a Success

by Joanne and Jim Dufour

Katrina hit the schools in Slidell, Louisiana, with a 15 foot tidal wave and left buildings, students, faculty, administration, staff and families seriously impacted.

But thanks to the efforts of our WSPCA members and friends, two schools are much better off than before.

Last Christmas, at our WSPCA party, 67 books and cash were donated to kick-start the effort of recreating a library for the Slidell Pathways School, a middle school in St Tammany Parish for special students. As soon as the books arrived in early January, grateful principal Jackie Landry wrote to share with us what it had meant to be able to put a book into the hands of each student. At the January WSPCA board meeting, a decision was made to earmark proceeds from calendar sales (~$500) to support costs of shipping books to Slidell. And the donations continued, coming from more Peace Corps alums, second hand bookstores, friends who heard about the effort, relatives, and colleagues. One principal contributed money for a portable library to make those first donations available to all the classes of the school, which were being held in the gym of an elementary school [their second temporary home]. Temma Pistrang helped secure donations from the Friends of the Seattle Public Library’s April book sale, netting over 350 books. The Student Council at Room Nine Community School in Shoreline took on the wish list of Slidell Pathways as a special project and raised donations and money to send 430 books. These were accompanied by over 30 hand written letters from the students at Room Nine to the students at Slidell Pathways – complete with poems and art work and personal greetings. Exhibitors at various education conferences came on board and over 150 new text books and readers were sent.

People hearing of the efforts helped in small ways as well: Office Max donated book covers to help dress up some older books; the manager at the mailing service donated her charges so that only postage costs had to be paid; colleagues and relatives contributed to mailing costs. As some of the donations were more appropriate for high school, Salmen Flamen High School became a co-recipient of a number of donations. Over twenty boxes reached their temporary school and slowly the library shelves have started to fill up. Their old school is getting rebuilt and the modules are in place for fall opening.

At this point at least 1,000 books from the Seattle area have reached Slidell Pathways. The modules for the new classrooms are also ready and summer break will see them better equipped for the fall start. In the next school year, it is anticipated that more of the evacuees will be returning, as housing slowly becomes available. Thanks to your help, the new library will be waiting for them too. An amazing start has been made, and hopefully the next step of obtaining classroom equipment such as science supplies, maps, globes, and gardening equipment, will follow.

Sending the needed books has been one accomplishment, but a more important one is the sustained group effort which has lent support and encouragement to those struggling with painful memories and experiences, bolstering their energy and will to go on and rebuild. No price tag can be put on that, but it has made a real difference. The faculty, staff and students express their personal thanks to all those who have helped materially as well as helped keep alive their faith in humanity. We join them in expressing our appreciation as well.


Indian Health Care in Peril

Federal budget for FY 2007 Would Eliminate Urban Indian Health Care Program

Pres. Bush has proposed that funding for the entire Urban Indian Health Care Program nationwide be ended in fiscal year 2007. The program's budget is now $33 million, of which $3.5 million goes to the Seattle Indian Health Board, the largest urban Indian medical center in the country, which sees some 7000 patients per year. The Administration's rationale for the cuts is that the services are duplicative, that Native Americans could easily receive care at community clinics serving the general population.

The urban Indian clinics were created to address the special cultural and psychosocial needs of their low-income Native American clients, who suffer disproportionately from serious health problems and risk factors with historical roots. Advocates point out that the community clinics of Seattle (and other cities ) are already stretched to their limits as the number of uninsured people grows steadily, so it is not safe to assume that they could fill the gap, let alone provide culturally appropriate services nor address logistical barriers to care. The budget cut would undo decades of progress that has been made in serving some of America's most vulnerable people.

Background provided by Joelle Mauthe, Brazil 74-76, community health nurse at the Seattle Indian Health Board. SIHB counts among its staff other RPCVs in nutrition, social work, and medical residency programs.

Here are links to recent news articles from the Seattle Times and the Seattle P-I

Indian clinic's budget number being called, again.

Clinic for Indians faces cut in funds

What you can do?: Contact your representatives in Congress and tell them not to cut the budget for the Urban Indian Health Care Program. Contact info: for Senators, and for Representatives. Congressional Switchboard 202-224-3121.


Update on campaign to put anti-immigrant referendum on November 2006 Washington ballot

by Joana Ramos, Brazil 73-75

Last month I shared a news item about the efforts of Bob Baker of Mercer Island to gather signatures sufficient to put an initiative called "Protect Washington Now" ( PNW) before the voters in November state elections. Mr. Baker describes himself as a member of the Minutemen, an Arizona-based vigilante gourp that monitors border crossing activity and reports undocumented immigrants to federal authorities. The measure would require the state to deny benefits that are solely state-funded to undocumented immigrants residing here. Most of these are programs offered by the Dept. of Social and Health Services to the most vulnerable populations, including children ( primary health care; childcare while parents work) and pregnant women ( prenatal & maternity care; family planning). The proposed initiative has been very carefully worded to appear that it is only a sensible-spending measure, as it would only require that access to state-funded programs be cut off, but would not affect any federally-mandated services. By federal law, all children living in the US are entitled to K-12 public education and school meal programs; residents of all ages may receive first-responder services, immunizations, prevention & care of of communicable diseases, and emergency medical care.

Immigrant rights advocates perceive the measure as a skillfully veiled threat which could lead to discrimination and intimidation of all those who "appear"to be immigrants, even during life-threatening situations. Furthermore, many families have both citizen and noncitizen members. A 2004 report by the National Immigration Law Center ( /Facts About Immigrants)/ revealed that 85% of immigrant families with children are "mixed status families", comprised of at least one noncitizen parent and at least one citizen child. Advocates across the country already report numerous cases of immigrant parents being either too afraid to seek services for which their children are eligilbe , or else wrongfully turned away from access. Mean-spirited legislation like that which Baker proposes could make matters worse, leading to both increased expenditures for the state and dire health consequences for individuals who might avoid both preventative and chronic health care until conditions become emergencies. The PWN measure, which was modeled after the successful Proposition 200 passed in Arizona in 2004, would undo the progress our state has just made in restoring at least primary care coverage for most of our noncitizen children.

Several dozen concerned community organizations including civic, anti-bias, faith-based, civil rights, unions. and healthcare provider groups have formed at network called From Hate to Hope to raise awareness about the the PNW campaign and strategize future action steps. For details , send an e-mail or call 206-726-1818.

Other local groups taking a leadership role in this effort are Hate Free Zone and the NW Federation of Community Organizations. I will be WSPCA's contact person on this issue.