Need in the News, Vol. II, Issue 11

At the end of every month, I summarize local, national and international “stories of need” from news sites, blogs, press releases and editorials. The following are some of November’s most need-in-the-news-worthy stories:

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC — Rebels took over the government in March. Since then, one in 10 people have fled from their homes. The government of France has warned that the CAR is on the verge of genocide.

IRAQ — A wave of Nov. 21 attacks, one in an outdoor vegetable market in Sadiyah in northeastern Iraq, left at least 48 people dead.

NATURAL DISASTERS — Here in Colorado, tiny Jamestown still faces months of flood cleanup. More than 5,200 people lost their lives and 4 million more were displaced in the Philippines by “Super Typhoon” Haiyan. Rare November storms swept through the Midwest, producing tornadoes that struck Illinois particularly hard.

SOMALIA & KENYA — Over the next three years, more than 500,000 Somali refugees in Kenya will have the opportunity to be voluntarily repatriated to their home country, under a U.N.-backed agreement.

MIGRATION TRAGEDIES (continued from last month) — In their quest to escape conflict or repression and find a better life, migrants from Ethiopia and Eritrea are undeterred by dangers on their way.

At times, what gets lost in the concern and clamor over major local, national and international events and issues, is the ordinary person who is doing extraordinary things. Here are a few I’ve heard about recently:

SEATTLE (Washington) — The bequest of a deceased Seattle lawyer left $187.6 million to three nonprofits: Seattle Children’s Hospital, the University of Washington School Law and the Salvation Army Northwest Division.

NEW YORK CITY (New York) — Education activist Malala Yousafzai accepted “The Women of the Year Fund Honoree Award” at the 2013 Glamour Women of the Year Awards.

MINNEAPOLIS (Minnesota)Mary Johnson has chosen to forgive, and love, her only son’s killer.

MALTAAhmed Omar Isaak, 31, a Somali refugee, tells the story of his 16-month, 5,000 kilometer journey to safety.

LYONS (Colorado) — The photographic work of Kenneth Wajda has re-introduced this small, flood-ravaged town to itself.

BLUE SPRINGS (Missouri)Joey Butler, the beloved founder and pastor of Gateway Church of Blue Springs, died of renal cell cancer at age 51.

CROWN POINT (Indiana) — Identical twin sisters, 34, have battled breast cancer together. Both are young moms and are now cancer free.

WASHINGTON (Illinois) — Brevin Hunter, 6, urged his mother and older brother to safety in the basement of their duplex after warning sirens sounded outside their home. Minutes later a tornado slammed into their duplex. The family survived unhurt.

NEW YORK CITY (New York) — The Irish rock bank U2 spoke recently about their new song “Ordinary Love” that they recorded for Nelson Mandela, the civil rights icon and former president of South Africa.

Stories worth reflection:

ACA QUESTIONS & ANSWERS — Here’s a primer on the Affordable Care Act and how it affects the self-employed.

IRAN NUCLEAR DEALWhat’s next beyond the interim deal struck between Iran and and the P5+1 nations?

LOSING SNAP — Millions of people face reduced food stamp (aka SNAP) benefits this month. According to the Boston Globe, the cuts were part of “a $5 billion nationwide reduction prompted by the expiration of a boost that was included in President Obama’s 2009 stimulus package.” For many, the difficult food choices they face will place additional burdens on local food banks and pantries.

THE TANGLED WEB OF PAYDAY LOANS — An NPR reporter signed up for a payday loan and this is what happened next.

KONY SURRENDER? — According to a government official in the Central African Republic, the infamous warlord Joseph Kony might be willing to surrender. (Kony’s terror campaign in Uganda and neighboring countries inspired the making of the documentary film Invisible Children and the creation of the non-profit of the same name.)

HOW TO SPEED AID DELIVERY — One Oxfam staffer tackled the question of how aid delivery can be expedited in order to assist disaster survivors.

THEY WERE SOLDIERS — A new book from journalist and humanitarian activist Ann Jones explores “the untold stories” of soldiers wounded in America’s wars.

HIGHS & LOWS FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE HOMELESS — For the fourth straight year, the number of people living on the street in the United States has dropped, according to a new report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Meanwhile, in the U.K., budget cuts could put people on the streets.

LIFE WITHOUT PRIVATE EQUITY — A reporter for the Wall Street Journal tried to live for a week without using products or services connected to private equity or venture capital companies.

MUST SEE — “A World Apart” a short but challenging video that takes a unique look at the plight of mothers with HIV.

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