HUNTER “PATCH” ADAMS
Adams developed the idea that medicine should take a creative approach to healing, and that we not only treat the diseases, but also the patient. He fathers a holistic approach to healing, combining both allopathic doctors and practitioners of alternative medicine. In 1971 he began “an organization devoted to treating patients for free in a hospital that would not accept health insurance or carry malpractice insurance.” (B) The Gesundheit! Institute is situated in West Virginia, and for 12 years, physicians and patients lived in a community that fostered self-empowerment and teaching. However, after a while the physicians on staff began to realize that they would never receive funding and many of them had thoughts of shutting down the institution. It was then that Patch agreed to go public and thus the blockbuster movie Patch Adams came out, starring Robin Williams as Patch’s character in the film.Today Adams continues to be a promoter of humane approach to patient care and speaks at institutions around the world. He believes love and laughter are the best medicine. In 2006 alone, he has taken clowns with him to Russia to cheer up the orphans there and raise money in support of the orphanages.
“Many days I went without food. I was beaten by my father always. I slept outside in the street many days under market tables and empty drums. My one and only pants were torn into pieces and it could no longer be sown, therefore I could only tie it (to try and cover the holes) and the most shameful part was that I never had under briefs to wear. The same with my shirt. I walked with my ten toes for many years on the ground, with no shoes.”Karrus underwent much strife growing up, but he never forgot the importance of his education. When asked why he was so resilient for his education, Karrus said, because that education allowed him to relate to people around the world. ” I can express myself to others and they can understand me and can work with me.”As an adult, Karrus now gives back to those trapped in poverty and war. He is the director of a free elementary school in a refugee camp. With little funding, the camp is hard to run. But Karrus continues to push through, as he always has, for education. Karrus explains a day at the refugee camp:”I will firstly starting by saying it is by the grace of God that people are making a living here. If we want to look at the physical aspect, then of course some refugees have their relatives in the US and other part of the world that send them money sometime on a monthly basis. Another group of refugees are teachers, some other refugees make a small green garden, some groups make dirt block for construction that which they sell for money to other refugee who want to build a dwelling place, some groups sell provision, some sell water, some have a call center since many people depend on phone calls as their means of income and some sell food items.”The camp has some cell phones and computer internet service, but no running water, and no plumbing. Electricity is only available to those that can afford to pay for connection and the monthly bills. And even if you are connected, the electricity is sporadic. Drinkable water must be purchased. It is brought in by truck and sold to wholesalers who resell it in buckets or bags.There are very few refrigerators or televisions. But many people have radios. There are two-refugee newspapers in the camp. There are some computers. “There are three Internet cafes here where every refugee goes to communicate with their relative and the rest of the world. Yes, there are mobile phones that widely used here since that is one of the best ways people can be able to get in touch with their relatives and friends aboard. The mobile is very important to everyone here. It is like one of the major means of getting income. The fact is that it is used to call someone when you are in need of money.”
Interview, done by Losmeiya Huang
Contributed by Losmeiya Huang
Although all the odds were stacked in favor of Caroline Ware having whatever life she wanted, Caroline chose to live in the minority. Growing up in an abolitionist New England family, Caroline reflected her upbringing by pursuing social justice and civil rights at the risk of her own public image. Having privileges that many other white young women her age did not even have, Caroline graduated from Harvard with a doctorate in history. After a brief time in Washington D.C. helping with the New Deal, Caroline became a teacher at Howard University, a school composed mainly of blacks. Her decision shocked many of those who expected her to attend graduate school and begin a family. Instead, Caroline found an intense passion for supporting the especially politically active students in her school. Having previously been more interested in women’s rights, Caroline suddenly saw the correlation between racism and sexism. In the next years of her life, Caroline made important contributions as a white woman to the civil rights movement. She joined Howard students in pickets at neighborhood restaurants and became staunchly involved when students returning home from a picnic of hers were arrested on a public bus. Ware was the first person that the students called once in jail, and Caroline rushed to do what she could. She phoned an attorney of the NAACP to help raise bail and then picked the students up herself. As a result of the incident, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Jim Crow law in Virginia for public transportation. Caroline continued to provide emotional and financial support for activist African-Americans.Later she threw her efforts behind the women’s movement. She was asked to serve with Eleanor Roosevelt as a member of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women and in 1966, was the founding member of the National Organization for Women.
Dublin, Thomas. “Caroline F. Ware.” Forgotten Heroes. Ed. Susan Ware. New York: Free Press, 1998. pp. 251-258.
Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2007. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2007.
Contributed by Losmeiya Huang
Faye Wattleton shocked many people in 1978, when she stepped in as the first black person, first woman, and youngest individual to ever be president of the PPFA (Planned Parenthood Federation of America). She had started out as an only child in a poor home and had taken bold steps to get to the position she was in. She entered nursing school when she was only sixteen years old and became a maternity-nursing instructor for two years in which she witnessed the brutal aftermath of illegal abortions. At the age of twenty-seven, Faye was asked to be the executive director of her local Planned Parenthood board. The number of clients tripled, and the budget grew from less than four hundred thousand dollars to nearly a million. Faye was in labor when she was elected to be national executive director. As president of the entire PPFA, the demands on Faye became even greater. The individuals who appointed her took heated criticism for finding “a little nurse from Dayton” with no national experience. Faye did not let the criticism faze her. The magic she worked in the field proved all her critics wrong. Faye’s passion for her work drew time away from her struggling marriage and she and her husband divorced. Even through the divorce, Faye continued to work calmly for public advocacy of sex-ed with contraceptive information. Faye retired eleven years later in 1992. Her contributions to Planned Parenthood and reproductive rights activism have won numerous awards, but her powerful presence is still deeply missed by the choice community. (1)IN 1992, Wattleton stepped down as the President of PPFA. Since then she has hosted a talk show in Chicago. She lives with her college daughter, Felicia, and continues to push for “improving the health, rights and well-being of women” (2). For Wattleton, “reproductive freedom is critical to a whole range of issues,” she told Ms. magazine. “If we can’t take charge of this most personal aspect of our lives, we can’t take care of anything. It should not be seen as a privilege or as a benefit, but a fundamental human right…. All women, rich and poor, brown, yellow, and white, must be free to take charge of their lives and make their own personal decisions. We have to fight for fundamental human rights so that no woman can be denied this dignity, regardless of her station in life” (2)
Cunningham, C., and A.L. Jones. “Faye Wattleton.” Epic Lives: One Hundred Black Woman Who Made a Difference. Ed. Jessica Carney Smith. Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1993. pp. 573- 578.
“Faye Wattleton.” Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 9. Gale Research, 1995. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2007.
Contributed by Losmeiya Huang
MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN
Marian Wright Edelman grew up as the youngest of five children. With her father’s low income as a minister, Marian insisted that she and her family never felt poor. Marian’s father died when she was fourteen. After graduating from high school, Marian attended college and incorporated nearly a year and two summers of traveling in Europe. After her travels, Marian returned to America unwilling to “go back to a segregated existence.” She began taking part in the civil rights movement and was arrested in1960 for her participation in an Atlanta sit-in. Immediately after, Marian decided to attend law school. Initially, the bulk of Marian’s work involved getting students out of jail. Waves of opposition rose against Marian; she was threatened by dogs, thrown into jail, and refused entry into a state courthouse. In the face of all this, Marian became the first black woman to pass the bar in Mississippi. Marian then refocused her efforts on children’s rights and became known as “the children’s crusader.” In 1973, she began the Children’s Defense Fund. Based in Washington D.C, the CDF ran a major campaign to prevent teen pregnancy, provide positive life options for youth, and teach the nation about the needs of children, especially the poorest children. Marian is currently serving on several boards, among which are the US Committee for UNICEF and the Council of Foreign Relations.
Guy-Sheftall, Beverley. “Marian Wright Edelman.” Epic Lives: One Hundred Black Woman Who Made a Difference. Ed. Jessica Carney Smith. Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1993. pp. 165-171.
Contributed by Losmeiya Huang
Born in Afghanistan in 1957, Dr. Sima Samar has fought consistently for the rights and liberties of women in Afghanistan. Taking a stance against the oppressive nature of the changing government, Samar struggled to give women in Afghanistan the basic needs of medicine, education, and freedom of expression.Dr. Samar’s humanitarian work was fueled by the political and social circumstances of her native country. After the Soviet’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, the country, which had been plagued by war from 1979 to 1989, became a land of violence and guerilla warfare. In this political climate, the Talban, headed by a group of Islamic fundamentalists, took control of the country. Under their control from 1996 to 2001, women lost many of their rights and freedoms. Within a few years from the start of the regime, women had been denied the right to equality, freedom, the vote, and the ability to work and inherit. In essence, the women in Afghanistan were invisible, living in a country divided by gender. Even highly educated women, who had degrees in Medicine and Law, were forced into slave laborers and beggars. According to the Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN), a UN humanitarian News service, “44 years is the average life expectancy rate for women in Afghanistan.” (1)In response to this change in women’s social position, Dr. Sima Samar, who faced threats to her life by the Taliban, founded the Shuhada Organization. This organization which has grown ever since, is a “non-governmental and non-profit organization committed to the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan with special emphasis on the empowerment of women and children” (2).However, as Dr. Samar fought for women’s rights, she was faced with much opposition. In 2000, the Taliban forcibly closed 2 hospitals, prompting Dr. Simi Samar to fight harder against the misogynist regime. Throughout her fight, she has courageously taken risks, claiming, “I’ve always been in danger, but I don’t mind. I believe we will die one day so I said let’s take the risk and help somebody else.” (3)In addition for providing medical care and access to women, Dr. Samar has fought for the right of freedom for Afghani women. From the onset of the Taliban rule, women were denied access to male physicians and were forced to wear burqas. This notion of isolating women, known as “purdah”, was not only unjust but also crippling to many women of the time. Dr. Samar was a crucial member in the rallies against the use of the burqa. She was also the first to recognize osteomalacia, a disease caused by the weakening of bones, due to lack of vitamin D produced by sunlight, which is prevalent in women wearing burqas.Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Dr. Samar has become the “first Deputy Chair and Minister of Women’s Affairs” in Afghanistan. (4) She also joined Women Living Under Muslim Laws, a group supported by the UN. Through her ongoing struggle to provide basic rights to women in Pakistan, Dr. Samar has also gained the position of the United Nations Rapporteur for the human rights issues in Sudan. Throughout her career, she has won the Perdita Huston Human Rights Award 2003 and the 2004 Profile in Courage Award.
Contributed by Lily Saadat
During the three decades of conflict in Cambodia, approximately 5 million land mines were laid to defend strategic locations and prevent the use of certain routes. While soldiers put these land mines in place, not all of them were in agreement with the policy. Aki Ra, one of the army soldiers reminisces, “I had [bad] feelings, because sometimes we were fighting against our friends and relatives. I felt sad when I saw a lot of people were killed. A lot of people were suffering from land mines. [But] I did not know what to do, [because] we were under orders.”Today, the effects of the lane mines are clear in Cambodia. Over 63,000 civilians and soldiers have been affected by the land mines, and nearly 19,000 individuals have died from impact. To make amends for these tragic statistics, Aki Ra began to undo the damage that had been done. Ra began to help clear land mines. Although he began his work with the UN, after only one year of working with them, he began to clear mines alone, with sticks and knifes.This technique is not only extremely dangerous, but also illegal, as it is not in accordance with international standards. But this did not deter Ra. In 2005, he travelled to the United Kingdom to receive formal training in mine removal, and then subsequently formed his own nonprofit organization, with the sole purpose of removing mines. According to Ra, “[our] goal is to clear land mines in rural villages for the people who need the land for building houses or farming or building schools.” His group, according to recent estimates, has cleared more than 50,000 land mines, however, according to the Cambodian government, approximately 4 million mines have yet to be discovered.Ra has also dedicated himself to educating individuals about mines and other weapons. “I had an idea to open a land mine museum to teach people to understand about war, land mines,” he said. “Even though the war [is] finished, [these explosives] still kill people, and the land cannot be used.” In addition to educating individuals on explosives, Ra has also opened his museum as an orphanage, providing a safe haven for children.Aki Ra is a hero. He has worked to alleviate the problem of land mines in his country and has worked to provide care for those affected by these explosives. Taking risks himself in order to clear the lands for the development of new infrastructure, Ra has displayed tremendous courage throughout his life.
Contributed by Lily Saadat