I travelled for months, 1, miles, half of that on the top of seven freight trains. I had many close calls and difficult experiences. A big tree branch almost swept me off a train top. It got the teen behind me, who flew off and down to the churning wheels below. When I returned home to Los Angeles, I had nightmares of gangsters running after me on top of trains. Despite what I had been through, I understood I had experienced just a fraction of the danger children go through on this journey.
The journey also helped me understand what drives these women and mobility orphans out of their homelands. In Honduras, help wanted ads told women that if they were 28 years or older to not bother applying. The journey helped me see a kind of determination I could never have imagined—determination no wall will stop.
Enrique tries eight times to get through Mexico—braving days and 12, miles. I saw migrants inflicted with horrible cruelty, and also amazing acts of kindness. In South-Central Mexico, when people in tiny towns along the tracks heard the whistle of the train, I watched them rush out of their homes with bundles of food in their arms.
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They would wave, smile and shout out to migrants perched on top of the trains. They threw bread, tortillas, whatever fruit was in season—bananas, pineapples, or oranges. These were the poorest Mexicans, who could barely feed their own children. They gave, they said, because it was the right thing to do, the Christian thing to do, what Jesus would do standing in their shoes. Migration, the movement of people, is one of the biggest social and economic issues of our time. I come at this issue with migration in my blood—my grandparents fled Syria and Poland for Argentina; my parents migrated from Argentina to the United States—and as someone who has written about the issue for nearly three decades.
From my perspective in the United States, I see it as an issue with many shades of gray, with winners and losers. Migrants, per one study, have cut by 5 per cent the cost of all goods and services everyone in the United States buys. But there have been clear consequences. They have seen their wages depressed because of competition from migrants. Migrant women and children have also been hurt. Certainly, mothers who migrate are able to send money home and, as a result, their children are able to eat well and study.
But after years apart, most of these children resent and even walk up to the line of hating their mothers for leaving them. They feel abandoned. Resentful children disproportionately join gangs or get pregnant with an older man, searching for the love they dreamed of having when they finally reunite with their mothers. Studies show mobility orphans have higher levels of depression, lower academic levels, and greater physical and emotional problems. Drug abuse is more common. In October , as the United Nations holds a second High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, it will once again focus on how to improve the lives of all migrants, especially mobility orphans.
Women said they felt forced to leave, and told me that if they could feed their children, clothe them and send them to school, they would have stayed. From an early age, she championed the rights of the underdog and used her skills as a writer to speak truth to power.
A pacifist, she protested U. A committed socialist, she took up the cause of workers' rights. She was also a tireless advocate for women's suffrage and an early member of the American Civil Liberties Union. Helen joined AFB in and worked for the organization for over 40 years. The foundation provided her with a global platform to advocate for the needs of people with vision loss and she wasted no opportunity. As a result of her travels across the United States, state commissions for the blind were created, rehabilitation centers were built, and education was made accessible to those with vision loss.
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Helen's optimism and courage were keenly felt at a personal level on many occasions, but perhaps never more so than during her visits to veteran's hospitals for soldiers returning from duty during World War II. Helen was very proud of her assistance in the formation in of a special service for deaf-blind persons. Her message of faith and strength through adversity resonated with those returning from war injured and maimed. Helen Keller was as interested in the welfare of blind persons in other countries as she was for those in her own country; conditions in poor and war-ravaged nations were of particular concern.
Helen's ability to empathize with the individual citizen in need as well as her ability to work with world leaders to shape global policy on vision loss made her a supremely effective ambassador for disabled persons worldwide. Her active participation in this area began as early as , when the Permanent Blind War Relief Fund, later called the American Braille Press, was founded.
She was a member of its first board of directors. It was then that she began her globe-circling tours on behalf of those with vision loss. During seven trips between and , she visited 35 countries on five continents.
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Helen Keller and Polly Thomson in Japan, Her visit was a huge success; up to two million Japanese came out to see her and her appearance drew considerable attention to the plight of Japan's blind and disabled population. In , when she was 75 years old, she embarked on one of her longest and most grueling journeys: a 40,mile, five-month-long tour through Asia. Wherever she traveled, she brought encouragement to millions of blind people, and many of the efforts to improve conditions for those with vision loss outside the United States can be traced directly to her visits.
Helen was famous from the age of 8 until her death in Her wide range of political, cultural, and intellectual interests and activities ensured that she knew people in all spheres of life. She counted leading personalities of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries among her friends and acquaintances.
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Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Katharine Cornell, and Jo Davidson to name but a few. She was honored around the globe and garnered many awards.
She also received an honorary Academy Award in as the inspiration for the documentary about her life, Helen Keller in Her Story. Head and shoulder portrait of a beaming Helen on her 80th birthday, June Helen suffered a stroke in , and from onwards, she lived quietly at Arcan Ridge, her home in Westport, Connecticut, one of the four main places she lived during her lifetime. She made her last major public appearance in at a Washington, D. At that meeting, she received the Lions Humanitarian Award for her lifetime of service to humanity and for providing the inspiration for the adoption by Lions Clubs International Foundation of their sight conservation and aid to blind programs.
During that visit to Washington, she also called on President John F. Kennedy at the White House. Unexpectedly, her mother closed the door. Odette couldn't hear the rest of the conversation. She took her book and continued reading until her mother opened the door again. She listened to her walk toward the living room: she hadn't taken off her heels yet. I have to get back to work, behave yourself, see you tonight.
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She thought maybe everyone was a robot. From her bed she could see the gray wooden house of her inert Barbies. Next to it shone the pink plastic star of the Little Twin Stars. She was overcome by a desire to touch it. But she couldn't; it was her sister's pink star. Her sister whose mother was in the United States and who now was forcing her to spend the entire summer in a faraway place. But there are so many toys over there and you'll have a great time, you'll go to a summer camp with other kids and you can go to an amusement park and eat a lot of hamburgers, she could hear her mother's pleading voice in her head.
But there are hamburgers here too. She called her mother's office to let her know that she'd be going out for a bike ride.