Tribute : Helen Keller (1880-1968)

481px-Helen_KellerAHelen Adams Keller (June 27, 1880 – June 1, 1968) was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was the first deafblind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree. The story of how Keller’s teacher, Anne Sullivan, broke through the isolation imposed by a near complete lack of language, allowing the girl to blossom as she learned to communicate, has become widely known through the dramatic depictions of the play and film The Miracle Worker. Her birthday on June 27 is commemorated as Helen Keller Day in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania and was authorized at the federal level by presidential proclamation by President Jimmy Carter in 1980, the 100th anniversary of her birth.

A prolific author, Keller was well-travelled and outspoken in her convictions. A member of the Socialist Party of Americaand the Industrial Workers of the World, she campaigned for women’s suffragelabor rights, socialism, and other radical left causes. She was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 1971.

Keller wrote a total of 12 published books and several articles. 

When Keller visited Akita Prefecture in Japan in July 1937, she inquired about Hachikō, the famed Akita dog that had died in 1935. She told a Japanese person that she would like to have an Akita dog; one was given to her within a month, with the name of Kamikaze-go.

 Keller wrote in the Akita Journal:

If ever there was an angel in fur, it was Kamikaze. I know I shall never feel quite the same tenderness for any other pet. The Akita dog has all the qualities that appeal to me – he is gentle, companionable and trusty.

 

Posthumous honors

A preschool for the deaf and hard of hearing in Mysore, India, was originally named after Helen Keller by its founder K. K. Srinivasan. In 1999, Keller was listed in Gallup’s Most Widely Admired People of the 20th century.

USPS-issued stamp of Keller and Sullivan, 1980

In 2003, Alabama honored its native daughter on its state quarter.The Alabama state quarter is the only circulating US coin to feature braille. The Helen Keller Hospital in Sheffield, Alabama is dedicated to her.

There are streets named after Helen Keller in Zurich, Switzerland, in Getafe, Spain, in Lod, Israel, in Lisbon, Portugal and in Caen, France.

A stamp was issued in 1980 by the United States Postal Service depicting Keller and Sullivan, to mark the centennial of Keller’s birth.

On October 7, 2009, a bronze statue of Helen Keller was added to the National Statuary Hall Collection, as a replacement for the State of Alabama’s former 1908 statue of the education reformerJabez Lamar Monroe Curry. It is displayed in the United States Capitol Visitor Center and depicts Keller as a seven-year-old child standing at a water pump.

The statue represents the seminal moment in Keller’s life when she understood her first word: W-A-T-E-R, as signed into her hand by teacher Anne Sullivan. The pedestal base bears a quotation in raised Latin and braille letters: “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart.” The statue is the first one of a person with a disability and of a child to be permanently displayed at the U.S. Capitol.

Johanna “Anne” Mansfield Sullivan Macy (April 14, 1866 – October 20, 1936), better known as Anne Sullivan, was an American teacher, best known for being the instructor and lifelong companion of Helen Keller. Anne Sullivan contracted an eye infection when she was eight years old which left her blind and without reading or writing skills.Anne received her education as a student of the Perkins School for the Blind where upon graduation she became a teacher to Helen Keller. Anne Sullivan was an exceptionally good teacher whose work is still recognized and spoken of today.


Courtesy : Wikipedia and Youtube (jancy and batangusboy)

Tribute : Pavlo Bondarev : Young man died after saving two kids he never knew before.

Pavlo BondarevWhether 100 souls or a single soul in danger,  if a human can risk his/her life to save another from danger, that soul is equal to God! Pavlo Bondarev was no military man or a firefighter to do this act of risking life as a part of his job. He has been just a common guy next door, who sacrificed his life in order to save two little kids, whom he even did not know before. 

This 24 year old Ukrainian youth, wished her mother on her birthday and left for his job as usual. Two kids were waiting for their school bus, He spotted a speeding car lost its control. With no hesitation he rushed to move the kids out of the danger, jumped onto the pushed one kid away and shielded another kid with his own body. They both got hit by the car and taken to the hospital. 

Everyone hoped the young man was strong and could have injured or broken arms. But Pavlo, had not been lucky to save himself from various fatal injuries. The people in his Ukranian town believe there is no such human today is like Pavlo, nobody would believe there exists some human like him. But he proved what it takes to be kind.

The whole town was mourning for him while the kids still were treated at the hospital. They knew that their Savior died only after a few weeks. His mother now considers both the kids as her grandchildren who were gifted by her son. 

Ukranian Government posthumously awarded Pavlo in the “Gordist Krayiny” (Pride Of The Country) function. 

We salute him and wish everyone should realize what he left us to understand. Great people are distinguished by their deeds. Love one another and stay humans! 

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Courtesy : Чернявский Антон (YouTube)

 

Tribute : Baba Amte (1914-2008)

Baba_Amte_(1914-2008)

Dr Murlidhar Devidas Amte popularly known as Baba Amte, was an Indian social worker and social activist known particularly for his work for the rehabilitation and empowerment of poor people suffering from leprosy. He is the non-medical person in the world who has received maximum medicine related awards.

The social activist is best known for the four Ashrams he helped set up in central India — three of them for leprosy patients and the fourth for adivasis (tribals). Anyone who has visited these places (Anandvan, Somnath, Ashokvan and Hemalkasa) would see the very rare combination of a fantastic visionary and also a great implementer of visions that he was. But, he had gone far ahead of that work.

Early Life

Baba Amte was born to Devidas and Laxmibai Amte in the city of Hinganghat, Maharashtra, India. It was a wealthy family. His father was a British government official with responsibilities for district administration and revenue collection. Murlidhar had acquired his nickname Baba in his childhood.

He came to be known as Baba not because “he is a saint or any such thing, but because his parents addressed him by that name.

As the eldest son of a wealthy landowner, Murlidhar had an idyllic childhood. By the time he was fourteen, Baba owned his own gun and hunted boar and deer. He developed a special interest in cinema, wrote reviews for the film magazine the Picturegoer and even corresponded with Greta Garbo and Norma Shearer. Norma Shearer would become one of his first foreign donors when he began working with leprosy patients. When he was old enough to drive, Baba was given a Singer sportscar with cushions covered with panther skin. Amte never appreciated the restrictions that prevented him from playing with the ‘low-caste’ servants’ children. “There is a certain callousness in families like mine.” Baba use to say. “They put up strong barriers so as not to see the misery in the world outside and I rebelled against it. “

Devotion towards work

Baba amte

Trained in law, Amte developed a successful legal practice at Wardha. He soon got involved in the Indian struggle for freedom from theBritish Raj, and started acting as a defense lawyer for leaders of the Indian freedom movement whom the British authorities had imprisoned in the 1942 Quit India movement. He spent some time at Sevagram ashram of Mahatma Gandhi, and became a follower of Gandhism for the rest of his life. He practiced various aspects of Gandhism, including yarn spinning using a charkha and wearing khadi.

Amte founded three ashrams for treatment and rehabilitation of leprosy patients, disabled people, and people from marginalized sections of the society in Maharashtra, India. Amte devoted his life to many other social causes, the most notable among which were generating public awareness of importance of ecological balance, wildlife preservation, and the Narmada Bachao Andolan (“Save Narmada” Movement), which fought against both unjust displacement of local inhabitants and damage to the environment

The Last Days

Baba_dalai

Baba Amte had not been keeping well for several years in his later life. He was compelled to lie down on a bed for much of the time due to a severe Spondylosis. In 2007, he was diagnosed with Leukemia. Baba Amte died in Anandwan on Feb 9, 2008, at the age of 93 years, As per his last wish, he was buried and not cremated.

Upon his death, the 14th Dalai Lama, among others, expressed his condolences saying, “His demise is a great loss to all of us. I am an admirer of Baba Amte. I vividly remember my visit to his thriving community of handicapped people at Anandvan in 1990”.

Awards from the Government of India

“I don’t want to be a great leader; I want to be a man who goes around with a little oil can and when he sees a breakdown, offers his help. To me, the man who does that is greater than any holy man in saffron-colored robes. The mechanic with the oil can: that is my ideal in life.”

– Baba Amte

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Courtesy and Sources : Wikipedia, Rediff, ianala.blogspot.in

Tribute : Irena Sendler (1910 – 2008) : Saved 2500 Children!

English: Irena Sendlerowa, chairman of childre...

Irena Sendlerowa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Hitler and his Nazis built the Warsaw Ghetto and herded 500,000 Polish Jews behind its walls to await liquidation, many Polish gentiles turned their backs or applauded. Not Irena Sendler. An unfamiliar name to most people, but this remarkable woman defied the Nazis and saved 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw Ghetto. As a health worker, she sneaked the children out between 1942 and 1943 to safe hiding places and found non-Jewish families to adopt them.

Sendler was born in 1910 in Otwock, a town some 15 miles southeast of Warsaw. She was greatly influenced by her father who was one of the first Polish Socialists. As a doctor his patients were mostly poor Jews.

In 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and the brutality of the Nazis accelerated with murder, violence and terror.

At the time, Irena was a Senior Administrator in the Warsaw Social Welfare Department, which operated the canteens in every district of the city. Previously, the canteens provided meals, financial aid, and other services for orphans, the elderly, the poor and the destitute. Now, through Irena, the canteens also provided clothing, medicine and money for the Jews. They were registered under fictitious Christian names, and prevent inspections, the Jewish families were reported as being afflicted with such highly infectious diseases as typhus and tuberculosis.

But in 1942, the Nazis herded hundreds of thousands of Jews into a 16-block area that came to be known as the Warsaw Ghetto. The Ghetto was sealed and the Jewish families ended up behind its walls, only to await certain death.

Sendler was so appalled by the conditions that she joined Zegota, the Council for Aid to Jews, organized by the Polish underground resistance movement, as one of its first recruits and directed the efforts to rescue Jewish children.

To be able to enter the Ghetto legally, Irena managed to be issued a pass from the Warsaws Epidemic Control Department and she visited the Ghetto daily, reestablished contacts and brought food, medicines and clothing. But 5,000 people died a month from starvation and disease in the Ghetto, and she decided to help the Jewish children to get out.

For Sendler, a young mother herself, persuading parents to part with their children was in itself a horrendous task. Finding families willing to shelter the children, and thereby willing to risk their life if the Nazis ever found out, was also not easy.

Sendler, who wore a star armband as a sign of her solidarity to Jews, began smuggling children out in an ambulance. She recruited at least one person from each of the ten centers of the Social Welfare Department. With their help, she issued hundreds of false documents with forged signatures and successfully smuggled almost 2,500 Jewish children to safety and gave them temporary new identities.

Some children were taken out in gunny sacks or body bags. Some were buried inside loads of goods. A mechanic took a baby out in his toolbox. Some kids were carried out in potato sacks, others were placed in coffins, some entered a church in the Ghetto which had two entrances. One entrance opened into the Ghetto, the other opened into the Aryan side of Warsaw. They entered the church as Jews and exited as Christians. “Can you guarantee they will live?” Irena later recalled the distraught parents asking. But she could only guarantee they would die if they stayed. “In my dreams,” she said, “I still hear the cries when they left their parents.”

Irena Sendler accomplished her incredible deeds with the active assistance of the church. “I sent most of the children to religious establishments,” she recalled. “I knew I could count on the Sisters.” Irena also had a remarkable record of cooperation when placing the youngsters: “No one ever refused to take a child from me,” she said.

The children were given false identities and placed in homes, orphanages and convents. Sendler carefully noted, in coded form, the children’s original names and their new identities. She kept the only record of their true identities in jars buried beneath an apple tree in a neighbor’s back yard, across the street from German barracks, hoping she could someday dig up the jars, locate the children and inform them of their past. In all, the jars contained the names of 2,500 children.

But the Nazis became aware of Irena’s activities, and on October 20, 1943 she was arrested, imprisoned and tortured by the Gestapo, who broke her feet and legs. She ended up in the Pawiak Prison, but no one could break her spirit. Though she was the only one who knew the names and addresses of the families sheltering the Jewish children, she withstood the torture, refusing to betray either her associates or any of the Jewish children in hiding.

Sentenced to death, Irena was saved at the last minute when Zegota members bribed one of the Germans to halt the execution. She escaped from prison but for the rest of the war she was pursued by the Gestapo.

After the war she dug up the jars and used the notes to track down the 2,500 children she placed with adoptive families and to reunite them with relatives scattered across Europe. But most lost their families during the Holocaust in Nazi death camps.

irena

The children had known her only by her code name Jolanta. But years later, after she was honored for her wartime work, her picture appeared in a newspaper. “A man, a painter, telephoned me,” said Sendler, “`I remember your face,’ he said. It was you who took me out of the ghetto.’ I had many calls like that!”

Irena Sendler did not think of herself as a hero. She claimed no credit for her actions. “I could have done more,” she said. “This regret will follow me to my death.”

She has been honored by international Jewish organizations – in 1965 she accorded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the Yad Vashem organization in Jerusalem and in 1991 she was made an honorary citizen of Israel.

Irena Sendler was awarded Poland’s highest distinction, the Order of White Eagle in Warsaw Monday Nov. 10, 2003. 

This lovely, courageous woman was one of the most dedicated and active workers in aiding Jews during the Nazi occupation of Poland. Her courage enabled not only the survival of 2,500 Jewish children but also of the generations of their descendants.

She passed away on May 12, 2008, at the age of 98.

Irena Sendler (1910-2008)

Irena Sendler (1910-2008) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Her achievement went largely unnoticed for many years. Then the story was uncovered by four young students at Uniontown High School, in Kansas, who were the winners of the 2000 Kansas state National History Day competition by writing a play Life in a Jar about the heroic actions of Irena Sendler. The girls – Elizabeth Cambers, Megan Stewart, Sabrina Coons and Janice Underwood – have since gained international recognition, along with their teacher, Norman Conard. The presentation, seen in many venues in the United States and popularized by National Public Radio, C-SPAN and CBS, has brought Irena Sendler’s story to a wider public.

 

Courtesy and Source : http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org , Karthik Balajee L, Google

Sunday Stuff: Inspirational : Kashmiri Girl fights odd with her Music

Maha

Maha Ali Kazmi, a young Pakistani of Kashmiri descent recently released ‘Nazar’, a love song that is being played all over the internet and on various television channels in Pakistan. Her relatives and acquaintances in Kashmir too have been listening to her number via internet and sharing it over various social networking sites.

Though 25-year-old Maha’s entrance to the long list of Pakistani female pop and rock singers is nothing new from an urban Pakistani perspective, but her debut is noteworthy given the ever-increasing opposition of religious extremists to the western influenced music in Pakistan and in her ancestral home in Indian Kashmir.

The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, an umbrella organization of various Islamist terrorist groups that emerged in 2007, dubbed music as ‘unIslamic‘ and targeted music shops and several singers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. A young Pashtun singer and dancer Shabana of Swat, for example, was shot dead and her body was left hanging against an electric pole. Ghani Dad, Ayman Udas, and several other singers who paid no heed to the death threats issued by the TTP met similar fate. Many singers eventually caved in and gave up their singing careers and many chose to switch from pop and rock genres to devotional singing. Some singers fled the country seeking political asylum abroad. On top of this, the Punjab lawmakers passed a bill in 2012 banning music concerts in educational institutes.

It was a time when the Pakistani society underwent ‘Islamization’ campaign under the Zia-ul-Haq military dictatorship, notes Pakistani cultural critic Nadeem F. Paracha in one of his blogs. As a result the urban Pakistan youth produced rock and pop underground through small gigs at schools, colleges and university campuses. The new wave that began with the queen of disco pop Nazia Hassan led to the birth of bands like Junoon, Vital Signs, Jal, Strings etc. Their popularity continued to grow in the Benazir Bhutto era and their numbers mushroomed during the modernization and liberalization program under General Musharraf’s dictatorship. Coke Studio, a Pakistani television series featuring live-studio music performances, that became a huge hit across the subcontinent started during Musharraf’s regime. But since the escalation of violence and terror and a volatile economy, the music industry has been floundering again.

Though Karachi is relatively safer, Maha says it is not easy for aspiring singers anywhere in Pakistan. “The overall political and economic instability and the rise of religious fundamentalist organizations in the country have affected the music industry. There are hardly any record companies around and hardly any music concerts going on in the country. One has to really struggle to find funds to finance one’s singing career here. My debut was supported entirely by my family and not any investors. “

Maha’s father, an ethnic Kashmiri from Srinagar, migrated to Pakistan in 1964. Music, she says is a heritage passed down to her from the Hindustani classical artist Wajid Ali Shah, the ancestor from her mother’s side. But it is her father, a music lover, who exposed Maha to his wide music collection ranging from Dire Straits to Nusrat Fateh Ali and Lata Mangeshkar. Enamored by the American legendary actress Audrey Hepburn and the songs featuring her such as Moon River, La vie en rose, Maha trained herself to sing and perform at school events and underground rock gigs before she was selected in an audition. Like all budding singers in Pakistan, Maha, a graduate in finance and microeconomics from MONASH University, Melbourne, will have to work on several self-funded singles before she can finance an entire album herself.

But not every Pakistani or Kashmiri girl is as lucky as Maha, she admits recalling the regret most liberal families including hers in Srinagar had this summer during her second visit, about the quitting of the Pragaash rock band. “It was understandable why the girls quit in the face of death threats issued by the orthodox and conservative elements,” she says.

“But if ever I am in such a situation, I will not back down because if Malala Yousufzai could stand up for her rights, so can I,” says Maha whose sensuality in the Nazar video stands in complete defiance of the prudishness of conservative sections of Pakistani and Kashmiri societies.

Source and Courtesy : TOI