This time my cause is the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and specifically… as always, the children who live there. I saw the ABC News 20/20 special – A Hidden America: Children of the Plains. Just the evening news clip had me in tears. I can’t embed the ABC video, and I looked for pictures, but there just aren’t any that fit. They seem too manipulative, or out of place. There is a slideshow you can click through, or videos to watch. I do hope you’ll look at a few. (*Note, the video is the episode, so it might be available only to those in the US. You might be able to watch the clips though.)
I don’t see how you can read some of these things and not be touched. For example, a six-year-old girl, who wants fresh water. You guys! Fresh water. Water. This from a little girl who lives in South Dakota.
“If she could, she’d ask President Obama for ‘Fresh water…and bubble gum…and a backpack.’”
- Forty-seven percent of the Pine Ridge population lives below the federal poverty level
- It is the poorest county in the USA. The average family income is just $3,700 per year.
- 65 to 80 percent of the adults are unemployed
- 80 to 90 percent of adults suffer from alcoholism
- There’s an obesity epidemic
- The director of the sole substance abuse program on the reservation said children have their first drink as young as five or six
- Pine Ridge has the highest teen suicide rate in the US
And then there’s this. If you can believe it, Subway was their best bet for nutrition. I scoffed, until I heard the rest. In fact, this is something that happened shortly after the first Subway opened. A customer – an elderly Lakota woman.
“She came in here and literally was crying because of what having this kind of a store or food restaurant in the community meant,” Banks said. “Not only because you see people investing in our own community, but also because, she said, ‘I haven’t eaten a cucumber in years because they’re so expensive.'”
It broke my heart that she not only considered cucumbers and expensive food, but that she hadn’t had one for years because she couldn’t afford one.
You can read the article and see the video. The average life expectancy is 58 for men, 66 for women. Fifty eight. … If I and my family lived there, not only would my dad, and all my uncles be dead… some of my cousins would be dead too – assuming they made it to the maximum life expectancy. It’s the lowest in the entire country. Some sources have an even lower number.
Sixty percent of all households in Pine Ridge qualify for public assistance. Eligible households can get monthly “commodity boxes” – which only contain “canned meats, cheese, with limited options for fruits and vegetables, and a lot of starchy carbohydrates.” Mind, the Lakota are only about ~150 years from being hunter/gatherers. (Which explains the obesity problems.)
I wanted to say “if you can believe it…” but I’m actually not surprised. Al Jazeera reported about the area well over a year ago. You can see the news clip. And yes, this made me cry. And this… well… it’s just tragic. Over a year ago the international community has known about this situation. It’s already been brought to the attention to the United Nations. I’m a little ashamed, and upset that I didn’t know about this until now. As in, this particular place, and just how bad it is.
And yet, there are some incredible, amazing, and inspiring children.
What’s the point of this?
Well, there are numerous ways to help. In fact there are numerous organizations you can look into here.
One thing I think pretty much everyone can do, is collect the “Box Tops for Education” – at least in the states. They’re on probably half the household items you buy regularly. I don’t know if products internationally have them. I checked the Red Cloud Indian School site and they’re trying to save up for resources for the children. For the box tops – check the last bullet point here. I’ve got a pile I’d been saving, and it’s perfect that I can mail them in.
I wanted to do something, but wasn’t sure what, or if you guys would be receptive to it considering I just had the “Social Media for Social Good 2011” drive not long ago. But as you’ll remember, I try to bring up worthy causes when I hear of them.
To be honest… I’m not in a great financial position either. In fact, the SMSG11 total is more than quadruple what I made in 2010. :X Nevertheless, I know I’m lucky, and I’m not in dire need of anything in particular. I also want to raise awareness – so, I’m asking for you to read this, to share it, comment, and possibly see what else you can do. You can also give monetarily to Red Cloud School – which I like because it’s a 501c3. If you’d like to join me in a monetary donation, they have a site here. Or you can write them a check. I looked into the school as much as I could. They’re not on Charity Navigator, but they do have a BBB rating. I spent days looking over these things, trying to find information on charities, and which would be the best most responsible one to donate to. I did see the school spent 63%, instead of the required 65% of total expenses on program service activities. If any one of you can find a better organization, with the financial etc information, I will be happy to donate my money there. (I’m in for $25. I’d say $25 for 50 comments… but we all know I’ll give regardless.)
Lastly, full credit to Sarah M. Anderson who gave me this final nudge to write this post/ask all of you to give a little too. With this tweet, my mind was made up. How could I resist spending $500 of someone else’s money for charity? Well, I couldn’t and I can’t. Sarah has decided to give to Lakota Pine Ridge Children’s Enrichment Project, Ltd. which is also a 501c3. They also collect toys, clothing, books, and school supplies. For all the readers in us, the books part is very appealing as well. And it also means anyone who can’t give money, can still give in other ways. Perhaps instead of the local good will, ship one bag over to LPRCEP. Or a similar organization. (*I looked LPRCEP up on Charity Navigator, and the BBB, but they aren’t listed – I’m guessing merely because they’re a small and relatively new organization.)
I’d love if you would join us. Let me know what you’re planning to do – donating money, items, to which organization, etc. Thanks so much for your generosity, and for always letting me get on my little bleeding heart soap box. <3 I’m going to say let’s make this a two week push, okay? And see what we can do between now and November 3rd.