Need in the News, Vol. III, Issue 2

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 February’s most need-in-the-news-worthy stories:

VENEZUELA — Ongoing street demonstrations against high crime and lack of security continued amid reports of police repression and the scarcity of basic goods.

The state flag of Ukraine is carried by a protester to the heart of developing clashes in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Feb. 18, 2014 (Mstyslav Chernov via Wikimedia Commons)
The state flag of Ukraine is carried by a protester to the heart of developing clashes in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Feb. 18, 2014 (Mstyslav Chernov via Wikimedia Commons)

UKRAINE — Street protests in Kiev and elsewhere led to government talks, and, subsequently, the ouster of the allegedly corrupt Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. An arrest warrant was also issued for Yanukovych, who has been accused of mass murder of civilians. He is still at large.

SYRIA — According to the United Nations, there are now 2.5 million Syrian refugees as a result of civil war. Half of them are children.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC — The 2013 collapse of this nation has led to a succession of governments — the C.A.R. is now on its third government in 13 months. In the interim, there has been brutal fighting between sectarian groups and rival factions, leading to massacres and the burning of villages to the ground. The new president, Catherine Samba-Panza, recently spoke about how to end the conflict in her country.

SOMALIA — Hundreds of civilians fled fresh clashes in Mogadishu.

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

MONTGOMERY (Alabama) — An American couple recently adopted three children from the Ukraine (and hope to bring home one more) despite ongoing unrest.

DENVER (Colorado)Bini Abbott has spent the last 10 years helping neglected horses through Rocky Mountain Horse Rescue, an organization she founded.

GUANTANAMO BAY (Cuba) — Six disabled U.S. veterans recently traveled to scuba dive for a week in the warm waters off southeastern Cuba. Their trip was made possible by a group called Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba (SUDS).

OSLO (Norway) — A hidden camera planted by SOS Children’s Villages International, recorded a series of acts of kindness performed by passers-by who noticed a shivering child on a park bench. Many of them offered their coats or gloves to the boy. SOS filmed the experiment to raise awareness about the plight of children in Syria.

MOUNT KUMGANG (North Korea) — After six decades of separation, 140 South Koreans temporarily reunited with 180 North Korean members of their families.

HAITI — Chibly Langlois was recently named to the College of Cardinals of the Catholic Church. He is the first Haitian to receive that honor.

Stories worth reflection:

OBESITY RATE FOR KIDS PLUMMETS — The rate of obesity in young children decreased 43 percent in the last decade.

ORPHANAGES IN NEPAL INVOLVED IN TRAFFICKING — Kathmandu orphanages have been accused of allegedly trafficking children for international adoption.

HAILEY REMEMBERED — Friends and neighbors organized a number of remembrances for 10-year-old Hailey Owens, who was kidnapped recently near her Springfield, Mo., home, and later murdered. Community remembrances have included gathering donations for her family, wearing her favorite colors—pink and purple—in her honor, a candlelight vigil and a porch light vigil.

WHAT DOES HUNGER LOOK LIKE? —  A diverse group of women who live in Colorado and receive food assistance benefits are creating a photo essay of sorts to tell their stories.

NOT ENOUGH — Only 44 percent of adults with intellectual disabilities have been able to find paying work.

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