Ways to HELP Syrian Refugees

12 million Syrians – half of Syria’s population from a country about the size of North Dakota – have fled their homes since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011. That’s more than the 10 million people who live in Los Angeles County.

Almost 70% of these refugees are women and children, according to the U.S. State Department. Here are links to organizations, both large and small, that are making a difference: The one organization that I have a personal connection to is Franklin Lamb’s grassroots group that is providing meals to Syrian refugee children in Lebanon for a mere $2.25US/child/meal. Donate here: USA account: Checks or wire transfers to the umbrella organization ‘‘Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace’’ (ACMEP), indicating ‘‘Meals for Syrian Children: Lebanon’’ Initiative. ACMEP/Meals for Syrian Children PNC Bank, Reston, Virginia The bank account number is 5341658014. Routing number: 054000030.

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Swift Code: PNCCUS33 ACMEP/Meals for Syrian Children 1575 AutumnRidgeCircle, Reston, VA 20194. Contact person: Michael Maloof, (fmichaelmaloof@yahoo.com) IRS tax-free ID# is 46-4491642. Beirut account: Crédit Libanais SAL Haret HreikMenchiehBranch HaretHreikMenchieh Street-Dabaja Building Tel. No. +961 – 01-556-781or +961 – 01-5560-728. Account No. 067-58573 2008 IBAN Code LB91005300CEUSD006758573 2008 SWIFT Code: CLIBLBBX LARGE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS: From NBC’s Today.com The UN Refugee Agency: Distributes sleeping bags, blankets, raincoats, socks, clothes and footwear to the most vulnerable refugees. Save the Children: Supplies food for Syrian kids and supports education in Syrian refugee camps. Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders: Operates two rescue ships in the Mediterranean Sea that can carry hundreds of people to land. Unicef: Delivers vaccines, clothes and food for children in Syria and neighboring countries. International Rescue Committee: Works in Greece, where thousands of people are arriving per day. Aid workers provide clean water and sanitation, and help new arrivals navigate the transit process and understand their legal rights. World Food Programme: Meets the urgent food needs of millions of displaced Syrians. Mercy Corps: Provides clean water, sanitation services, temporary shelter and food. Aylan Kurdi & Syria’s Child Victims of War: Named after Aylan Kurdi, the 3-year-old whose photo of his drown body washed on the shore of Bodrum, Turkey, touched the world. Money goes to “Hand In Hand For Syria,” a U.K. based organization that works with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. CARE: Reaches Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Yemen and those displaced inside Syria with food, hygiene items and emergency cash. LOCALIZED ORGANIZATIONS: From Public Radio Organization: There are other, smaller groups doing incredible work on the ground, every day. Here are six, smaller groups we’ve vetted that you can help right away. Migrant Offshore Aid Station: Saves children like Aylan Kurdi, with a fleet of rescue boats patrolling the Mediterranean to save migrants lost at sea. Refugees Welcome: A kind of “Airbnb for refugees,” this German nonprofit matches people with spare rooms with refugees in need of housing. If you don’t have a spare bed in Germany, you can still donate. The Worldwide Tribe in Calais: Documents stories in the Calais migrant camp and provides relief funds. Small Projects Istanbul: Provides classes and cultural enrichment and scholarships to Syrian children in Turkey. Hand in Hand for Syria: One of the few organizations that directly provides aid on the ground in Syria, including food, clothing, water, sanitation and crucial medical assistance to “help people to stay in Syria instead of fleeing to another country.” They accept donations via their page on JustGiving.com. The White Helmets: Also known as the Syrian Civil Defence, rescue workers rush in after the bombs land each day. They’re credited with saving more than 22,000 lives so far. Watanili: Rebuilds Syria through a series of small grassroots initiatves. A recent project, ‘Cinema on the Go,’ uses film to combat the effects of trauma on the children. International Medical Corporation: Delivers vital health care services that focuses on training, helping devastated populations return to self-reliance. Medical Teams International: Helps Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Volunteers “monitor chronic disease patients in their homes and provide families and communities with vital information on chronic disease recognition, management and disease prevention. “Just $10 ships $1,450 worth of medicines – antibiotics, sterile syringes, bandages, birthing kits, splints for broken bones – and other life-saving supplies!” ShelterBoxUSA: Provides emergency shelter and supplies to families affected by the Syrian crisis in Iraq Kurdistan, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, including clothing, stoves and, water filters. CANADIANS: From the Government of Canada, a list of how individuals can DONATE or VOLUNTEER or SPONSOR Syrian refugees.

ARGONAUT NEWS: Finding Jesse

A mother searches for her homeless son on Venice Beach http://argonautnews.com/living-large-in-limbo-finding-jesse/

Jesse, seen here on the Venice boardwalk, has gone missing again

Jesse, seen here on the Venice boardwalk, has gone missing again

“Just pay attention to homeless people,” my high school friend Shelly messaged via Facebook when she saw my post from the Venice boardwalk. She sent a photo of her son: a scruffy, huggable-looking guy who suffers from mental illness and has disappeared — again. I was on the boardwalk to interview Timothy Pardue, who runs the P.A.D., a drop-in center for homeless young adults located just steps from Venice Beach. The P.A.D. helps homeless or struggling 18- to 24-year-olds get help, get jobs or get home. I start to ask Pardue a question — “At 18 to 24 years old, these aren’t ‘kids,’” I say — and immediately get an answer. “They’re kids,” Pardue corrects. “Some have been out a while, beaten down. Read more »

MALAYSIA: Close Encounters of the Cultural Kind

Kuala Lumpur — I went out exploring KL’s Chinatown, Central Market, Kasturi Walk, Merdeka Square and Central Market yesterday….and found more than sites or sights.

Monk on Merdeka Square

Monk on Merdeka Square

Encounter #1: The Historian Fahad, the winsome manager at the Panggung Bandaraya Theatre, where “Mud,” Malaysia’s longest running musical is being performed. While I gratefully sat in the air conditioned lobby of this former Town
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Hall, built in 1902, and waited for my friend Art to reply to my text about which night he’d like me to get tickets, Fahad took advantage of his captive audience to offer a most engaging history lesson. In the “old” days, people floated down the two rivers of Kuala Lumpur until the rivers’ convergence, where they were grounded by mud. “’Lumpur’ means ‘mud,’” Fahad explained. “It’s why the city grew from this point.” …Which explains why the Town Hall was located at this central point and why Merdeka Square (where the Union Jack was lowered and the new Malaysian flag raised in 1957) developed here. Read more »

MALAYSIA: Kuala Lumpur Images

Petronas Towers from xx Tower, where LA friend Art Karno and I went for a drink and the view.

Petronas Towers from xx Tower, where LA friend Art Karno and I went for a drink and the view.

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Merdeka Square, where independence from UK was proclaimed in 195x

Merdeka Square, where independence from UK was proclaimed in 195x

View of xx Tower from Merdeka Square

View of xx Tower from Merdeka Square

Union Jack lowered and replaced with Malaysian flag during independence. Asia's tallest flag pole.

Union Jack lowered and replaced with Malaysian flag during independence. Asia’s tallest flag pole.

Woman in the Jalan Petaling Market, Chinatown I thought the market is over-hyped -- not very original. I could have been in Damascus or Guadalajara!

Woman in the Jalan Petaling Market, Chinatown
I thought the market is over-hyped — not very original. I could have been in Damascus or Guadalajara!

Jilan Petaling Street, Chinatown

Crowd among hawkers on Jilan Petaling Street, Chinatown

Paper lanterns and palm trees on Petaling Street, KL's Chnatown

Paper lanterns and palm trees on Petaling Street, KL’s Chinatown

More shopping opportunities on xx Street -- Middle Eastern fare.

More shopping opportunities on xx Street — Middle Eastern fare.

ARGONAUT NEWS: Mothers for Fair Child Support

In custody battles, women usually get the kids — but not the money to raise them

David Pisarra is a Santa Monica lawyer who specializes in the worst type of legal practice — family law, where mean divorces and children played as pawns dominate his days. He’s an expert in men’s legal rights and argues — correctly, I believe — that not all women make the best parents.

Kelly Hayes-Raitt with her mother and brother in 1966

Kelly Hayes-Raitt with her mother and brother in 1966

Although judges are not supposed to have a biological bias when awarding custody, an estimated 83% still award children to their mothers. Cultural biases of stay-at-home moms and full-time working dads are hard to shake.

It’s not necessarily that judges are biased, argues Pisarra — it’s society. A whopping 91% of custody cases are decided between the parents; the courts just approve these decisions. Only 4% of custody cases go to trial, and of those only 1.5% is decided by a judge.

“Courts don’t want to decide custody. They do everything they can to force the participants to get to an agreement on their own,” Pisarra says. Read more »

HOUSESITTING: Interview in Best-Selling Author’s Column

Interview on best-selling author #AndrewHallam’s column in #AssetBuilder: Ajijic View

“I walked onto the patio that extended from the top floor of Kelly’s house. Like the patio on the floor below, and the floor below that, it had a giant living space with comfy chairs and sofas. The dramatic view of Mexico’s Lake Chapala

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extended east and west, as far as I could see. Kelly also had a private swimming pool.”


MALAYSIA: It IS a Small World!

7:00 am, Taipei International Airport, en route to Kuala Lumpur My two favorite things about traveling are returning to Los Angeles and leaving it. There’s so much about America I wish I could change (our propensity to bomb small countries most of us couldn’t locate on a map is one thing). Yet, my seatmates on Eva Air’s 13-hour flight from Los Angeles to Taipei reminded me of one of my favorite things about our country: It’s willingness to embrace immigrants and offer them extraordinary opportunities.

Ian Khoh & Dina Chroek on Eva Air flight from LAX to Taipei.

Ian Khoh & Dina

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Chroek on Eva Air flight from LAX to Taipei.

#IanKhoh is a 23-year-old from Penang. (Yes, the very Penang where I will spend 3 weeks in July while housesitting! What are the chances?) Seated next to him was #DinaChroek, a 21-year-old from Cambodia. Read more »

ARGONAUT NEWS: A Medal of Honor Long Overdue

On Memorial Day, think of Maj. Gabriel Navarrete and the Mexican-American infantry unit who gave all in World War II http://argonautnews.com/living-large-in-limbo-a-medal-of-honor-long-overdue/ Bill Lansford fought in World War II. He fought in Korea. And then the late Playa del Rey resident fought in L.A. County to build a memorial to Mexican-American soldiers who were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

"The Dark Side of the Dream," historical novel about discrimination against Mexican-American soldiers in WWII

“The Dark Side of the Dream,” historical novel about discrimination against Mexican-American soldiers in WWII

“Of the nearly 4,000 Medals of Honor awarded since the Civil War, 40 have been given to Latino-Americans, making them the largest single ethnic group, in proportion to the number who served, to earn our nation’s highest award for bravery,” Lansford, the son of a Mexican mother, wrote on his website. One soldier who was denied this honor, however, was Maj. Gabriel Navarrete. He stood up to his commanding officer over what was “without a doubt, the most criticized of moves made by the United States Army in the European Theater in WWII,” wrote historian Raul Morin in “Among the Valiant: Mexican-Americans in WWII and Korea.” Navarrete commanded E Company of the Texas 36th Division, America’s first all Mexican-American infantry unit. Read more »

HOUSESITTING: Interview on “3 on the Road”

Fun interview on a fellow housesitter’s blog: http://www.3ontheroad.com/kelly.html

Excerpt: But, the truly interesting experiences are the housesits that never happened. Years ago, I applied for a housesit in Lebanon, but when the dates changed it didn’t work. Nevertheless, the homeowner “joined” my web site. When she learned I’d be coming to Beirut in 2013 to prepare for a return trip to Iraq, she invited me to spend a delightful weekend in her home high in the hills overlooking Beirut. We became fast friends and she and her husband were remarkably helpful during a time when violence was spiking both in Baghdad and

Ajijic Toes
Another remarkable encounter happened a few months ago. I had wanted to return to New Orleans’ Ninth Ward to see how the poorest community in the US was faring nearly 10 years after hurricane Katrina and the levee breaks. I saw a housesit posting in NO with no dates and emailed the couple. They replied that the posting was an error, but they said they were so moved by my writing about NO that they wanted to host me for a week! It was a delightful, insightful experience.

This summer, I’ll have 2 housesits in Malaysia and already the homeowners are recommending activists for me to talk with about sex trafficking, Burmese refugees and environmental problems.