Need in the News, Vol. V, Issue 8

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

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC — Thousands have been forced to flee their villages as sectarian violence continued.

NAURU Island — Prisoners held in shocking conditions on this tiny Pacific island originally sought asylum in Australia.

INDIA — Tens of thousands of Dalits in Gujarat state demonstrated for their freedom from caste discrimination.

NIGERIA — In the fight against Muslim extremism, the Nigerian government has been accused of mass killings.

SAUDI ARABIA — 16,000 migrant workers have found themselves stranded.

SYRIA — In Aleppo, besieged residents were forced to cook and eat leaves. Among those under siege was this young boy.

MIGRANT CRISIS — Who is truly to blame for the current epidemic in people smuggling in North Africa and the Middle East?…Meanwhile, Italy’s asylum system is beyond strained.

Flags and athletes galore at the Rio Olympic games. (By Agência Brasil Fotografias (Terminam os Jogos Olímpicos Rio 2016, via Wikimedia Commons)
Flags and athletes galore at the Rio Olympic games. (By Agência Brasil Fotografias (Terminam os Jogos Olímpicos Rio 2016, via Wikimedia Commons)

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

FRESNO (California) — Jalen Bailey, 8, started a bakery so he could buy his mom a house.

NORTHERN LIBYA — Ruta Fisehaye, 24, originally of Eritrea, recently escaped slavery at the hands of ISIS. This is her story.

AURORA (Colorado)Sarah Jackson started a volleyball league to help fund her passion, running Casa de Paz, a refuge for family members of detained immigrants. (Note: I got a chance to meet Sarah a few years ago and she is the real deal!)

AMATRICE (Italy) — Chefs worldwide have added Spaghetti All’Amatriciana to their menus to help Amatrice, the Italian town devastated by a recent earthquake.

SYRIA — The “White Helmets” volunteer rescue and humanitarian group daily brave bombs and bullets “run toward death” in helping the injured.

BRISBANE (Australia) — Nic Marchessi started a mobile laundry service for people who are homeless.

ST. LOUIS (Missouri) — A mobile food pantry with Operation Food Search reached kids this summer who might otherwise not have had access to nutritious meals.

POLANDPiotr Malachowski won a silver medal in Rio, then announced he was auctioning it off to help a 3-year-old suffering from retinoblastoma.

BATON ROUGE (Louisiana) — In the midst of some of the worst flooding on record, the all-volunteer “Cajun Navy” has been busy.

Stories worth reflection:

THE LAST EARN LEASTEarly childhood educators earn the least over their lifetimes of any graduates with college degrees.

LAND OF OPPORTUNITY: COSTA RICA — It’s little known that this tiny Central American nation provides asylum for thousands of people escaping its Latin and South American neighbors.

HOUSING COSTS INCREASE, AGAIN — This is a ubiquitous sort of headline, unfortunately, in the midst of an official crackdown on people who are homeless.

REMEMBERING A DISASTER — In 1976, the Big Thompson Flood killed 144 people, including several missionaries who were in Colorado for the summer.

GOLD MEDAL IN…EVICTIONS? — In the run-up to the Rio Olympics, apparently the government of Brazil specialized in clearing out undesirables.

RIGHT SIDE OF JUSTICE? — Hindsight is of course 20/20, but according to this column, American Christians as a whole have long struggled to be on the right side of history where issues of justice are concerned.

MILLIONS UNDER MAO — Remembering the worst mass murder in history.

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