Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hard to Believe the Inhumanity of People

Homeless good Samaritan left to die on NYC street
By DEEPTI HAJELA Associated Press Writer © 2010 The Associated Press
April 26, 2010, 11:42PM

I came across the following story, published two days ago and had a hard time believing that people could be this way. I am curious as to readers' take on this. Why do you think people walked past? What would you have done?

Now, here's the story:

NEW YORK — The homeless man lay face down, unmoving, on the sidewalk outside an apartment building, blood from knife wounds pooling underneath his body.

One person passed by in the early morning. Then another, and another. Video footage from a surveillance camera shows at least seven people going by, some turning their heads to look, others stopping to gawk. One even lifted the homeless man's body, exposing what appeared to be blood on the sidewalk underneath him, before walking away.

It wasn't until after the 31-year-old Guatemalan immigrant had been lying there for nearly an hour that emergency workers arrived, and by then, it was too late. Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax — who police said was stabbed while intervening to help a woman being attacked — had died.

"I think it's horrific," said Marla Cohan, who teaches at P.S. 82, a school across the street from where Tale-Yax died. "I think people are just afraid to step in; they don't want to get involved; who knows what their reasons are?"

Tale-Yax was walking behind a man and a woman on 144th Street in the Jamaica section of Queens around 6 a.m. April 18 when the couple got into a fight that became physical, according to police, who pieced together what happened from surveillance footage and interviews with area residents.

Tale-Yax was stabbed several times when he intervened to help the woman, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said. She and the other man fled in different directions, and Tale-Yax pursued the man before collapsing. Authorities are searching for the man and woman.

A 911 call of a woman screaming came in around 6 a.m., but when officers responded to the address that was given, no one was there, police said. Another call came in around 7 a.m., saying a man was lying on the street, but gave the wrong address. Finally, around 7:20 a.m., someone called 911 to report a man had possibly been stabbed at 144th Street and 88th Road.

Police and firefighters arrived a few minutes later to find Tale-Yax dead. Officials say they're not sure whether the man was still alive when passers-by opted not to help him.

Residents who regularly pass by the same stretch of sidewalk, in a working-class neighborhood of low-rise apartment buildings and fast food restaurants near a busy boulevard, were unnerved by the way Tale-Yax died.

"Is anybody human anymore?" asked Raechelle Groce, visiting her grandmother at a nearby building on Monday. "What's wrong with humanity?"

In the urban environment, it's not unusual to see people on the street, sleeping or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

But even assuming the person they've just passed is drunk, instead of injured, is no reason not to notify authorities, said Seth Herman, another teacher at the school. He remembered calling an ambulance when seeing a man who appeared to be homeless on the street, with a beer bottle near by.

He called 911, he said, because "I felt it wasn't my job to figure out if the person was drunk or actually hurt."

Groce agreed.

"I just think that's horrible, whether you're homeless or not," she said. "He's a human being; he needs help."


Associated Press writer Colleen Long contributed to this report.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Insights into Lack of Family Support for the Homeless

The Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida somewhat recently published a very interesting post, which I am reproducing in part here. (The image is also reproduced from the Coalition's site.) That post answers one of the questions that frequently comes to mind when one encounters the homeless and/or the hungry: Where are their families? Why don't theny help them? How/why did they end up on the street all alone? Well, read below to see some answers:

"From his own experience, a formerly homeless man named Clyde offers a description of reasons that family reunifications are difficult for the homeless. The words below are taken directly from Clyde’s subjective but insightful blog post:

* Many don’t have parents or any other family to ask for help, even if they wanted to. For some, their parents have passed away, or are in such poor health or financial condition that they can’t help anyone.

* An increasing number of young homeless never had real parents. In some homes, children are treated as just a burden, being fed and housed but little more. Many are physically abused, though verbal abuse can be just as destructive….Thousands of young people run away from these conditions and end up living on the street.

* Many homeless people may have several brothers and sisters, grown-up children, or other relatives, but being family doesn’t mean they will help. They may not be capable of helping due to their own health or financial situation. Some will only grudgingly help a little and make it very clear that it’s an unwelcome burden.

* There are times where the homeless person had been helped by parents but refused to improve their own situation. Sometimes family members may just have to say no, if only for a while, to give the person an incentive to try harder."

The rest of the post, along with other interesting posts and statistics, can be found at the Hope for the Homeless blog maintained by the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sabu Help: Self-Help for the Poor of Ghana

This weekend Sabu Help will be holding a fundraising event and is asking for bloggers' financial help, where possible, and prayers. I am blogging about it here because I believe it to be a worthy cause. Readers are asked to spread the word.

Here is some information:
Sabu Help is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping rural poor people help themselves, find ways to produce food, earn an income, and raise healthy families. The organization supports investment in such ventures as agriculture, animal husbandry, skilled services, and retail & trading. Donations and grants are used to provide business micro loans, supporting the poor people to invest in their community resources and productive businesses. Then, Sabu Help "pays it forward" by recycling repaid loans to help fund more poor people in other communities. Currently, the organization works principally in Ghana but hopes to expand to other locations.

Additional information can be found at the organization's website: Sabu Help.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Is Giving a Handout a Crime?

I thought I would share the following article that was posted recently at The Responsibility Project. The content is certain to raise emotions. I recommend that readers go to the original article and post a comment there for greater effect. (Nearly 50 people have already done so.)

Give To The Homeless, Commit a Crime?
March 16, 2010 By Kathy McManus

A television station in San Antonio, Texas, recently reported that a local councilman wants to make it a crime to give money to a beggar or homeless person on city streets. Those who open their wallets would be fined.

“If there’s no money for the panhandlers, the panhandlers will go away,” said Councilman John Clamp.

But some residents say what will go away is their right to give. “I think it is absolutely ludicrous to ticket someone for wanting to help out another human being,” one person commented online. “To me, that is the same as punishing someone for wanting to do the right thing.” Another wrote, “Whenever I am tempted to pass judgment over these people I ask myself how desperate would I have to be and how far would I have to fall before I would beg? Then I hand them a dollar and get on with my day.”

“You are all missing the point,” wrote another resident who said giving cash to “bums” was ill advised. “I used to give them money,” the writer continued, “until I started seeing them in the park drinking and smoking crack!” San Antonio Express-News columnist Victor Landa , however, questioned the practicality of the proposed law by asking, “Whose responsibility is it to be the street-level charity police?”

Tell us what you think: Should it be a crime to give money to someone on the street?