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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Signs of Poverty: Lost Kids

By Trace A. DeMeyer

It’s easy to pop a pill these days. It’s even easier to bury what bothers us because our minds will do that without drugs, with something as simple as memory loss. Street drugs are one way to self-medicate. Recommended medical treatments for emotional distress are pharmaceuticals.

It’s work to analyze where we disconnect, where we feel bitter, sad or disappointed, or when we seemingly lose all hope.

It’s also less work to lock a person in a prison cell. Across the US in the last 50 years, mental hospitals have been replaced by jails and prisons. In Massachusetts alone, 16 hospitals that treated mentally ill patients closed their doors. There was 7,000 mothers (with a combined 16,000 children) incarcerated in Massachusetts in 2007. The majority of women are there for non-violent offenses. Some 85% in prison in Ludlow, Massachusetts, have an addiction problem. Their crimes were prostitution or drugs. Social, economic and health problems are billboards, obvious signs of poverty.

“When women are locked up, there’s another group of people who are adversely affected: their kids. Across the US, there are 1.3 million kids whose mothers are under some form of ‘correctional supervision,’” according to journalist Christina Rathbone, author of "A World Apart, Women, Prison and Life behind Bars."

“Give maximum affection to your children,” the Tibetan holy man, Dalai Lama told a gathering here in Massachusetts. He understands the tragedy when people have children then neglect or abuse them. One broken child becomes a mother or father who may create another broken child. These cycles must end.

To shine light on any crisis, it will take sensitive people and serious money. Yet it always comes back to poverty, who has money and who doesn’t and who cares.

Pathways to Prosperity:

Northwest Area Foundation Awards Grant to United Indians of All Tribes Foundation

ST. PAUL, Minn.-- The Northwest Area Foundation announced the award of a two-year, $3.5 million grant to the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation (UIATF) located in Seattle, WA. UIATF will utilize the funds to implement the 'Pathways to Prosperity,' project, a holistic community development initiative designed to systematically address the determinants of poverty faced by urban Native American populations. This initiative is a union of in-depth community-based research and cutting edge community development theory. 
"We are working from a cultural and spiritual foundation that recognizes poverty as much more than simply a lack of money," states UIATF CEO Phil Lane, Jr. (Yankton Dakota/Chickasaw) "Poverty is many things braided together. It's an interdependent web of social, cultural, political, economic and personal factors that combine to trap families, and whole communities in patterns of ill health, deprivation, and dependency. The only way out of the trap is to truly engage these same families and communities in a journey of learning, healing and building."
"We believe, and experience is demonstrating, that poverty reduction initiatives have greater chance of success if they are owned by the community," said Kari Schlachtenhaufen, interim president and CEO of the Northwest Area Foundation. "We are excited to make this grant and hope other funders and partners will join in this effort to reduce poverty long term." Source: U.S. Newswire, October 10, 2007

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