There is no better time than during a pandemic like COVID-19 to pause, and reflect on how we can redevelop some new commitments, and best practices so we can take better care of the environment, and ourselves. As I see it, future-proofing sustainable recovery, and sustainable development is the clear, and truthfully, the only way out.
I call this my “Relentless Realignment” formula. Time and again after I do my mental balcony exercise, my key take away is to return to a more responsible form of consumption, and production standard.
Ultimately this equates to living a more circular based driven economy, and a life style that is more in keeping with how our ancestors lived.
Sustainability During Times of Crises
As such, I would like to share some innovative tips that have kept me healthy and going strong during COVID-19, Ebola, Zika and the flu season.
Eat healthy and Eat Clean. Following her ancestors footsteps, my great grandmother would always carry her own eating utensils, flask and a small bar of soap wrapped in a cloth napkin. When she finished her meal, she would excuse herself from the table and go to the lavatory where she washed her hands and utensils with her own soap and then dried same with her own napkin. What a great way to reduce waste, and stay vigilant during COVID-19. Guess what she did when she thought she was coming down with the flu? She would serve herself a meal with horseradish which kills Listeria, E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus and other food pathogens. It also reduces inflammation and is a powerful nasal disinfectant. Imagine that! Currently it is widely known that COVID-19 does not like copper. What is not common knowledge is that this trace mineral performs important biochemical functions that help keep us healthy. Foods high in copper include liver, oysters and shellfish. If you are a vegetarian include spirulina, shitake mushrooms, chocolate and leafy greens in your diet. Eat seasonal and include naturally fermented, cultured foods and drink clean water in small quantities throughout the day. If you are taking medicine that is harmful to your gut biome you might want to consider asking your doctor to refer a nutritionist who can tailor a diet specific to your particular health needs. Something to keep in mind is our diet intake needs will fluctuate based on our current health conditions (including stress factors).
Hygiene. As a kid my mother used to remind me to wash my hands every time I returned home from playing outdoors. Later in life I would carry a piece of aloe in a ziploc bag for those long jungle hikes without access to water or soap. Not sure why and when cleanliness became relegated. However, with COVID-19 the erstwhile importance of hygiene has resurfaced and frequent handwashing and/or the use non toxic hand sanitizers is now gaining momentum. Interestingly enough, today you can buy antibacterial cream made out of copper. Or, you can emulate our ancestors and wear copper bracelets and jewelry. Imagine the benefit of using a copper nose ring or better yet, copper nose filters!
Use washable, reusable masks. Nota Bene: Now is a time to travel less, shop online or instacart for groceries. If you have to go out, use a mask! If you are short on cash, there are plenty of youtube videos that can teach you how to make your own mask. The trick here is to use the appropriate material. My preference is wool because it is hypoallergenic, anti-fungal, antibacterial, is breathable and washable. Savvy manufacturers have even created copper infused face masks.
When possible, buy in bulk. This reduces wasteful packaging and will help minimize grocery store visits. If you have a compromised immune system, you might want to consider buying online or instacarting.
Clean up and declutter. Now is a great time to have an open air garage sale. So roll up your sleeves and clean out your junk drawers, closets and garages. Donate what is left over to your local thrift shops.
Research and support sustainable brands. This may include cosmetics, clothing, household products, etc. Discover which companies practice Corporate Social Responsibility, support equality and produce quality and durable products.
Support your local farmers. Many farmers’ markets are practicing safe distancing and some farmers are selling their wares from the trunks of their cars. Our farmer’s market provides hand sanitation kiosks, free masks and vendors are safely distanced. Don’t forget to bring your own tote bag!
Who knew 2020/21 would become defined by such a major paradigm shift, a year of releasing excess and clearing ways for new beginnings. New ways of seeing, eating and conducting businesses.
Welcome to our new creative revolution! A world full of opportunities just waiting to be discovered or rediscovered!
Writing Lost and Found has been a long standing labor of love of mine. As an award winning forensic analyst I have always endeavored to use my skills to find solutions that can empower the underserved. After considerable research I determined the best way to reduce civil strife and untimely deaths is through proper nourishment. Sadly today people living below the line are forced to eat cheap, highly processed foods. As such, they are weakening their immune systems and putting themselves at risk of getting sick. With little money for food, how can they afford medicine? This never ending poverty cycle prompted me to write Lost & Found: Nutrition Reboot. It is the first part of a four book series broken down by global regions. The first book in this series discusses the importance of a pre/probiotic diet and includes a catalog of fermented and cultured products of the Americas (including recipes).
This article was originally written in 2016 and published in 2018. You can read it by clicking on the link below:
We are living in a truly unique historical moment in time where computers are bound by laws of physics. Primarily because bits and qbits are physical entities and computers are essentially manipulating matter via math, in particular linear algebra. Math, the universal means of communication, is the mother of all languages.
Prior to the emergence of quantum mechanics, classical physics was marked by a paradoxical dualism. On the one hand we had electric and magnetic fields governed by Maxwell’s equations. These fields filled space and were continuous. On the other hand atoms were governed by Newtonian mechanics, and atoms were super small objects. At the core of this dualism was the contrast of light and substance, a field that has fascinated scientists for millennia.
The benefit of quantum field theory is that it has replaced this dualistic view of matter with a unified one where quantum mechanics and special relativity are just as equally important. We have learned that we can make fields from photons and atoms from electrons. And both photons and electrons can be described using mathematical formulas. They are particles because they come in discrete units with definite, reproducible properties. However, the new quantum mechanical particle (“quarticle” as coined by Frank Wilczek) cannot be associated with a definite location in space. Instead the possible results of measuring its position are given by a probability distribution which is the square of a space-filling field (ie the wave function).
We have the kingdom of bosons, named after Satyendra Bose and the kingdom of fermions, named after Enrico Fermi. Both names were coined by Paul Dirac. Nota Bene: Every species of quarticle is either a boson or fermion. Interactions among bosons are different from fermions. This effect is called quantum statistics. Bosons are like “conformists” because they like to behave in the same way. A photon (which belong to the kingdom of bosons) is akin to a laser beam because it consists of many photons of the same wave length that move in the same direction. Conversely, fermions are “individualists” because they refuse to occupy the same quantum state (otherwise known as the Pauli exclusion principle). Electrons belong to the kingdom of fermions and is one of the reasons why the periodic table exists. Electrons being negatively charged are attracted to positively charged atomic nuclei where they build up complex configurations around it.
If we really want to understand the personality of a material (ergo the periodic table) we will need to study its electrons more closely. Table salt forms cubic crystals because its atoms share electrons in that configuration. Silver shines because its electrons absorb visible light and reradiate it. Carbon to carbon bonds in graphene are so small and strong that they prevent thermal fluctuations from destabilizing it. Electron behavior causes nearly all material properties such as hardness, conductivity, melting temperature, etc. and they all change when extreme heat or cold temperatures are applied.
When electrons form covalent bonds (for instance hydrogen and carbon), they cannot move about independently as they are frozen in place and form a solid. However, quantum fluctuations may cause that solid to turn from a solid state to a gas, thereby producing materials in which the electrons move freely (ie electron gas). On the flip side some electrons are neither locked in place nor independent and form a liquid instead. Some of these liquids (which melt due to quantum fluctuations rather than thermal) are what is known as a quantum entanglement state. The same goes for anyons. Physicists now know of several 2D quantum liquids and 3D quantum liquid crystals whose emergent quarticles are neither bosons nor fermions, but rather a different sort of quasi anyons.
The first example turned up in a domain of physics known as the Fractional Quantum Hall Effect (FQHE). This is a state of matter that arises when electrons confined to a 2D layer (ie at the interface of two semiconductors) are taken to ultra low temperatures and subjected to extremely large magnetic fields. Under these conditions (when the density and magnetic fields are varied) the electrons form a large class of related but distinct quantum liquids which have amazing properties and become excellent super conductors.
Not too long ago a new class of quantum liquids (called spin liquids) was identified. In these materials the electrons do not move, but the orientation of their spin axis does. Spin liquids lie between ordinary magnets (spin solids), in which the direction of spins are aligned, and paramagnets and diamagnets (spin gases), in which the spin orientations are almost completely independent of one another.
Currently there is considerable excitement growing around the engineering of artificial anyonic systems. Keep in mind the basic feature of anyons (which distinguishes them from quarticles) is their memory capacity. Anyonic systems build up gigantic collective memory which serve as a platform for computing. This is known as “topological quantum computing” and Microsoft is leading the path towards building more viable quantum computers via topological braiding. Essentially a topological quantum computer is a computer that employs 2D particles called the Majorana Fermion (which has its own anti particle), who pass around one another to form braids in 3D spacetime (ie one temporal plus two spatial dimensions). The benefit of knots via braiding is that it produces less noise which helps stabilize quarticles.
Recently condensed matter physicists discovered new exotic phases of matter and these emergent, collective states of interacting particles are nothing like solids or liquids. These phases (some realized in the lab and others in theory) arise when matter is chilled to sub-zero temperatures. In these frigid conditions particles can interact in ways that cause them to shed all traces of their original identities. Experiments in the 1980s revealed that in some situations electrons split en masse into fractions of particles that make braidable trails. In other instances they collectively create massless versions of themselves. A lattice of spinning atoms becomes a fluid of swirling loops. Crystals that began as insulators start conducting electricity over their surfaces. One phase that shocked scientists in 2011 features strange, particle like fractons that lock together into fractal patterns. The need to enumerate and classify (and in some instances reclassify) all possible phases of matter is an area that needs some attention. If a complete classification is achieved, it would not only account for all phases seen in nature thus far, but would point the way toward discovering new materials and ultimately new technologies. IBM Research is already setting world records by using their quantum computer to simulate beryllium hydride, lithium hydride, and hydrogen molecules.
In February of 2018 scientists discovered another new exotic state of atoms — an atom within an atom (Bose-Einstein condensate using strontium atoms that convert to a rydberg atom using a laser)! Scientific breakthroughs such as these are accelerating because of quantum computers.
Case in point: Now is the perfect time to take a fresh look at our current periodic table of elements which needs to expand on enumerating phases of matter that still remain unexplored.
Today we have the capacity to bend technology to create mini universes. My hope and desire is that we leverage bits to manipulate atoms that will ultimately improve lives.
Our dystopian world is anything but peaceful today. Tensions have increased in scope and intensity, and have been further exacerbated by external interventions. Notwithstanding all the advances we have made in this century, progress on the peace front is still lofty and lacking. A closer evaluation of our most recent string of conflicts; Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Qatar, can help us obtain a deeper understanding of the causes, perhaps misunderstandings, and where opportunities for peace may exist. As it stands, a divided, inflamed Middle East is only adding more global challenges that go well beyond further taxing humanitarian aid efforts and fighting climate change.
The real question here is can peace be achieved by escalating global governance? Groups like The Elders, the Peace Research Institute of Oslo, and the UN have already invested considerable time, energy, and effort in mediating peaceful solutions in zones of conflict. During the past 30 years Norway has become a front runner in peace brokering. Indeed, Norway’s peacemaking efforts facilitated ending years of deadlocked armed conflicts in places like Guatemala, Africa, and most recently the truce between FARC and the Colombian government. One could argue that yes, progress has been achieved on a certain level but perhaps a shift in focus, and a global governance reconstruct may be required to quell the list of crises which continue to massively grow and divide daily.
At a glance and in retrospect, the source of tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran fundamentally boils down to the two rival branches of Islam. This 1400-year-old debate is about who is the rightful successor of Muhammad. The Sunni’s (Saudi Arabia, Egypt) believe the Prophet’s trusted friend and advisor Abu Bakr was the rightful leader of Muslims. While the Shia’s (Iran, Iraq) believe that Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law Ali was chosen by Allah to hold the title of caliph.
Coincidentally, albeit ironically, Catholicism splintered for similar reasons. One of the apostles, Peter, was appointed leader by Jesus and later became recognized as the first Pope. In 1054 the Catholic Church split in two factions. Those who followed the Pope became known as the Roman Catholic Church, and the churches that did not think that the Pope should lead all Christians became known as the Orthodox Church. Catholicism continued to splinter off with the creation of the Protestant, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Baptist churches. Similarly, Islam splintered off into thousands of competing sects.
If Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (all descendants of Abraham) were here today, what would they think of the status quo of their multi fractionalized religious representatives, churches and mosques? What would they think of the Syrian war or what is happening to the Muslim Rohingya? Would they be proud of the diverse versions of their scripture or abhorred at how far skewed the platform they crafted to foster moral fortitude had fallen?
Could the solution to today’s conflict management be as simple as giving the opponent a seat at the table like the Colombian, President Juan Manuel Santos did with the FARC?
Conversely, could the Middle East solution be the Saudi-brokered Arab Peace Initiative, which was endorsed by the Arab League’s 22 members during the March 2002 Beirut summit, and then endorsed again in 2007 and 2017? The Saudi’s plan outlined steps to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Their proposal? A two state solution with the caveat that Israel return Arab lands captured since 1967. Even Ban Ki-Moon, the former UN Secretary-General, said: “The Arab peace initiative is one of the pillars of the peace process … it sends a signal that the Arabs are serious about achieving peace”.
Having respected mediators facilitate dialogue amongst under represented warring factions at the Arab League of Nations and the United Nations is essential. Establishing regional mediation platforms akin to a “Middle Eastern Elders” could also play an important role in lessening the strife in the Middle East.
Regarding the recent rift with Qatar, Turkey and Pakistan are already stepping up their mediation efforts, and are calling upon restraint, and dialogue for resolving differences.
At this stage of the game the highly respected Aga Khan, Imam for the Shia would be a shoe-in for a Middle Eastern Elder candidate. Aga Khan is a proponent of peace and pluralism so who better to represent the Shia’s? On the Sunni side, perhaps Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid would be a thoughtful consideration. H.H. Mohammed is a forward thinker and spearheaded important projects like the happiness initiative in Dubai. The Emir of Kuwait Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Abo El-Gheit, Qatar’s Chairman of National Human Rights Committee Ali bin Samikh al-Marri are additional key candidate considerations.
For parties taking sides in the Qatar matter or remaining neutral, hindsight is 20/20. If the different factions of the Catholic Church can peacefully coexist, then why not Islam’s Sunni and Shia sects?
During Ramadan, a time of deep reflection and prayer, it is my sincerest hope that a new Middle East Mediation group can be formed so the Sunni and Shia voices can be jointly heard.
Like Jo Cox so poignantly stated, “We have more in common than that which divides us”. The same holds true for the Sunni’s, Shia’s and all of the religions and philosophies across the globe.
Peace is possible when we realize we all want the same things, and that religions diverge and cross connect back to one another.
Ecosystem tipping points and climate change warning signs are making headlines. Yesterday I read record breaking heat is melting roads in some of India’s busiest cities.
Scientists predicted a rise in temperature would lead to an increase in the number of insects worldwide, ushering dire consequences to the farming community. Warnings unheeded to our own detriment as now one of Africa’s staple crops, cassava, is reeling from super bug infestation.
In short, climate change has already altered earth’s ecological footprint with unstable fluctuating seasons. A longer season means insects have a higher metabolic rate, quicker gestation and more frequent reproduction.
An accelerated pine weevil population growth is attacking Canada’s boreal forest, British Colombia, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Nebraska, throughout Central America and even the coast of Georgia.
The April 2015 National Geographic Pine Beetle Epidemic article stated “The scale of the current epidemic is unprecedented. Since the 1990s more than 60 million acres of forest, from northern New Mexico through British Columbia, have suffered die-offs from pine weevil infestation“. This statement does not take into account pine weevil damage throughout Latin America.
I recently witnessed first hand the devastating impact of pine weevil insurgence during a Zika mitigation trip to Honduras. In Spanish pine weevils are known as “gorgojos” and farmers are burning infected trees in a failed attempt to kill the pine weevils. The haze in Honduras from pine tree burning was so bad that flights were cancelled due to the lack of runway visibility. In fact, the doctors and rural clinics I visited stated they are in need of respiratory and pulmonary medicine as lung disease has spiked in children and elders due to hazing.
Zika, pine weevil infestation, cassava blight, and lyme disease all have been linked to global warming. Rising temperatures and drought will necessitate the need to escalate solutions for correcting these biological imbalances.
Pine weevils are not the enemy. They have been co-evolving with pine trees for as long as these forests have existed and play an important role in a forest’s long-term structure, function and resilience. Warmer weather and drought have driven the current outbreak’s size and severity to more than 10 times larger than any other known outbreak, and is still expanding.
So where do we begin and what can today’s global citizens do to reduce the negative impact global warming is having on our forests?
A persistent saying reverberates through my mind. “If we want to have a future, we must look to the past“. Following are a few examples of how our ancestors handled pest control management.
Paint the trunks of trees up to 5 feet with pest management paint (equal parts of white latex paint, water and lime). If you don’t have lime (calisa in Spanish), then you can substitute with ground up egg shells. White paint prevents borer activity and summer sunburn.
Pest control tree pruning. Free wind finder apps can assist in pine weevil flight tracking and help map areas in need of pruning. Thinning healthy trees before pine weevil season will help introduce air flow (pine weevils are weak flyers). Pruning will also reinforce tree’s immune system and make them less targetable. Pine weevils can smell weak or dying trees.
Companion planting. Pine weevils are olfatory driven. Planting styrene producing plants like cinnamon and coffee around pine trees will help deter pine weevils. Cinnamon and coffee thrive in acidic soils. Guess what produces acidic soils? Pine tree needles. Moringa is another excellent companion plant because it is fast-growing, prevents erosion and is a rich vitamin source for human, livestock and plants.
Terrace and ditches will prevent erosion, landslides and water runoff during rainy season. Better water management will produce more resilient trees.
Pine weevil mitigation will require a mindset change and one that is coupled with the best of permaculture, biodiversity gardening and biomimicry.
A holistic strategy and approach may not save vast swathes of forests but it will give trees surrounding our homes, farms, parks and schools a better chance of survival in today’s imbalanced environment.
Entrepreneurs are not only some of today’s most successful business owners, but also some of our best problem solvers. Now more than ever, the world’s humanitarian and environmental challenges need their help.
The best entrepreneurs can create the solutions, processes and jobs that address critical global issues. They are highly efficient and productive; strive for top quality control and execute timely delivery…all key ingredients for becoming a successful entrepreneur and business owner. But the world’s most celebrated entrepreneurs have something else: a commitment to making an impact on the world outside their business. For example, PayPal founder Peter Thiel started a new initiative called the Thiel Fellowship, which offers grants of up to $100,000 for kids to drop out of school. Crazy as it sounds, Thiel’s goal is to get the best minds thinking about big ideas early on in life. This is how true disruption is born, and helps encourage today’s youth to think creatively and have an impact.
I had my own epiphany when I attended a breakfast talk by entrepreneur Mike Fernandez to discuss his book “Humbled by the Journey“. While I once was an executive for two prestigious museums — New York’s Guggenheim and the Miami Art Museum — a few years ago I began yearning for a closer connection with the world. As an entrepreneur or “tinkerer,” as I like to call myself, I am always fascinated by the humble beginnings of some of today’s most successful entrepreneurs. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Michael Dell, Mark Zuckerberg, Elizabeth Holmes, Ted Turner, Madame C.J. Walker, Richard Schulze and Fernandez all dropped out of school to launch successful businesses.
Fernandez, the once-penniless Cuban immigrant who founded the private equity firm MBF Healthcare Partners, swears his secret formula for success is sacrifice, urgency, passion, execution and results. He challenges conventional wisdom and champions “the greater good” (corporate social responsibility), both attributes that set this successful group of entrepreneurs apart. In his speech Fernandez encouraged all to take the “greater good challenge” and look for ways they can make a difference.
My mentor David Lawrence, who was Mike’s travel companion in his book, encouraged me to follow my dream. After an arduous trip to assist a distressed orphanage in Bamako, Mali during their coup d’etat in 2012, I decided to take the plunge. On my return flight home I came up with the name for my volunteer-based nonprofit and laid the groundwork for my website. A week later Bridging Humanity was born with a goal to eradicate poverty, here in the US and abroad. The platform for accomplishing this monumental task is simple and straightforward. It is called 9 Steps to Eradicate Poverty.
Today more than 805 million people across the globe are hungry. More than 800 women die every day in childbirth. The number one killer of children is contaminated water. Now more than ever, our world desperately needs all of its global citizens and tinkerers to step up to the greater good challenge. Entrepreneurs worldwide, both known and about to become known, are rising to the challenge. And individuals who want to put their money where their heart is are becoming more actively engaged.
The UN, USAID and CDC, when recently faced with the world’s largest Ebola epidemic in history, created the Fighting Ebola: A Grand Challenge initiative. Their mandate? To enlist the world’s greatest entrepreneurial minds to address the solutions they were seeking in their fight against Ebola. The Grand Challenge drew entrepreneurs from all corners of the earth, who in a matter of a month shared lifesaving, pioneering ideas that delivered practical and cost-effective innovations that helped strengthen the fight against Ebola.
Entrepreneurs are rapidly taking front stage today, and it is no longer relevant how old you are (Baby Boomer age 50-64, Generation X age 35-49, or a Millennial age 21-34). But the group to watch now is Generation Z (under 20). Just look at Shubham Banerjee, the 13-year-old inventor who created a Braigo braille printer using Legos. Jack Andraka, 16, found a new way to detect cancer. Teen Eesha Khare invented a rapid phone recharging device.
Today we simply have no more excuses to sit back and watch the cycle of extreme poverty continue. With the support from entrepreneurs both young and old and the world’s global citizens, for the first time in history the end of extreme poverty is indeed within our reach.
The brain child behind Between Here & No Where: The Journey to Belong developed slowly but steadily over the years. As of late the homeless situation in the US and abroad has gotten worse. In fact Miami is home to over 4,000 homeless students. As farfetched as this may sound homelessness in the US has recently reached an all time high. We have more than 1.3 million homeless students in the US and nearly 76,000 of them are living on their own without parents.
The participants in this art exhibition are homeless art students from Miami-Dade Community College, New World School of the Arts and FIU’s Fostering Panthers Pride. The purpose of this art exhibition is to raise their voice and our collective social conscience so we can help alleviate the plight of homeless students. One of our goals is to help connect homeless artists with potential buyers and/or gallerists.
Allow me to introduce some of the participants.
Willie Baronet: An artist who uses his art to advocate for the homeless. He recently completed a cross country homeless sign purchasing trip in July, 2014 which took him from Seattle to San Diego to New York. He covered 24 cities in just 31 days. He is currently working on a documentary about his journey titled “Signs of Humanity” and a book as well. You can check out his ongoing project We Are All Homeless here. Rosie Holtom: Rosie drew impetus for her homeless project when she volunteered at “Shelter from the Storm“, a night shelter in north London. She worked with their homeless residents for four years. Her photographs of the residents have helped to raise awareness about homelessness and has challenged our preconceptions regarding the homeless. Juan Travieso: Is an artist and art teacher at the New World School of the Arts who uses his art to raise awareness about social issues and endangered animals. Patrick Farrell: Is a big hearted pulitzer prize winning Miami Herald Photographer. Jacqueline Wolf: An artist who creates art to raise awareness about the human struggle. Rob Woodcox: An artist who uses his photography to raise awareness and money for foster kids. Rob draws his inspiration for helping foster kids from being adopted as a young baby. His current project “Stories Worth Telling” is an initiative to raise money so foster kids can go to camp and receive mentoring. The photo used in this article is titled “A Shattered Image of the Past” is a part of the series Stories Worth Telling. Neith Nevelson: Artist and grand daughter of Louise Nevelson. Neith is a former homeless person. Audrey Gair: Artist and winner of the National Latino Art Beat and the National Young Arts Silver Portfolio. *Pending invitation acceptance. Rosa Naday Garmendia: A social activist and eco artist who also gives pro bono art classes to the homeless. Lucinda Linderman: Activist, performance artist, environmentalist who creates art out of trash and uses her art to raise awareness about the environment and social issues.
The above noted list is a partial and unconfirmed list as we are currently recruiting homeless art students from Miami Dade Community College, New World School of the Arts and FIU. Anyone interested in participating can send me an email at tinacornely at bridging-humanity dot org.
David Raymond, an expert in homelessness and the former head of the Miami Dade Homeless Trust has graciously accepted to write the forward for our art catalog.
Between Here & No Where is tentatively scheduled to open in October 2016!
Did you know that Miami is home to 4,000 homeless students? As farfetched as this may sound homelessness in the US has reached an all time high with more than 1.2 million homeless students and nearly 76,000 are living on their own without their parents.
The purpose of this portal is to raise a voice and our collective social conscience so we can help alleviate the plight of homeless students. Our ultimate goal with this portal is to provide homeless students with free tools and resources so they can succeed in finishing school. These young adults need our help so they can have a fighting chance.
How can they find us? It’s easy all they have to do is type the words #Help4HomelessStudents and they will find our post.
Assistance for Homeless Students:
1. A place to call home: For help across the nation call the National Runaway Safeline at 800-786-2929. For a list of homes across the nation at the Covenant House please click here. The homeless helpline in Miami, Florida is 877-994-4357. The agents on call can assist with finding a case manager, help locate a shelter and also provide help with addiction problems. If you are a foster teen and have aged out, you can contact Casa Valentina or Emmaus House or call 305-444-0740 or email email@example.com. Casa Valentina is a home for females and Emmaus is for males. For help locating housing in other states google Campus Evolution Villages.
2. Need school supplies and/or personal items? If you are an active student enrolled in Miami-Dade County Public Schools you should contact 305-995-7558 to schedule an appointment to visit the Up-Start Store. If you are attending FIU you can contact Fostering Panther Pride by clicking here. Need clothes for interviews or proms, contact Dress for Success.
As the Ebola outbreak continues to spread, parallels and lessons can be gleaned when comparing the Ebola virus with HIV. For instance HIV they both can be spread by unprotected sex and in the case of Ebola by customary African burial practices. Scientists are now saying Ebola is airborne and can stay alive on surfaces for up to two weeks. All it takes is having a compromised immune system and touching an infected person’s sweat or a tear and then touching one’s eyes. Unfortunately for the grieving families, their departed ones are at their most infectious right after death when contagious fluids are seeping out of every pore and orifice. The clincher here is with an incubation period from a week up to less than 3 weeks Ebola spreads 100 times faster than untreated HIV.
What have we learned from our past efforts? The 3 non negotiables: Prevention. Treatment. Containment.
Prevention: A first line of defense is to choose a healthy lifestyle that promotes a strong immune system. Easier said than done for impoverished people living in Africa. But as a general rule of thumb all Ebola health care workers should not be over 45 years (age derived from recent study by Dr. John Schieffelin) and their immunity must be checked regularly so the ones with weakened immune systems are not assigned to treat Ebola cases. Particularly the ones that have to handle the deceased and their bed linens and the ones that are continually exposed to chlorine or doused in chlorine. Chlorine will weaken your immune system and lower your body’s blood pressure. As such health care workers that are exposed to Chlorine must get checked regularly, need to stay hydrated and should take Vitamen C and Echinacea as a preventative measure. So how do you maintain a healthy immune system? Following are a couple of pointers:
1. Drink plenty of non chlorinated clean water or if necessary (according to the WHO) boil for a minute to purify. Stay away from sugary drinks. 2. Don’t smoke and if you drink, do it moderately (anything in excess can kill you). 3. Avoid highly processed foods like white sugar, white flour and white salt (unless it is sea salt). Eat a balanced diet (preferably small quantities throughout the day) of fresh fruits, nuts, leafy vegetables (including some raw veggies like moringa, broccoli-promotes healthy liver, asparagus, spinach, beet greens, brussel sprouts), whole grains, chickpeas and meals that are low in saturated fat. The above veggies will promote healthy immune system, liver, blood cells and adrenal glands. 4. Proper hygiene. Use healthy home made soaps and use aloe as a natural hand sanitizer. Aloe is antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral. 5. Exercise. 6. Control your blood pressure and make sure your pH is balanced. If you are doing all of the above, your blood pressure and pH should be balanced.
The second line of defense in prevention is proper gear. Recently CNN posted an article regarding 22 year old Fatu Kekula a Liberian nurse student who cared for her entire family through Ebola. Moreover 3 of her 4 patients survived and Fatu was only using improvised protective gear. The CNN article released on September 26, 2014 stated the incident happened 2 months ago. Remarkably Fatu did not contract Ebola. It is important to note that it appears that Fatu did not have to treat the deceased body of her younger cousin as her family was eventually transferred to a hospital. It is fair to say that what kept Fatu safe is a combination of factors; her healthy immune system, hand washing, her makeshift gear, timing ie high humidity and heat when they were sick (the airborne Ebola virus dies quicker when it is humid and the temperature is above 29 celcius/84 fahrenheit) and she did not have to handle the remains of the deceased. The rain coat, plastic garbage bags she used on her feet, hands, head and the face mask weren’t perfect but they did keep her safe. As an added precaution she could have added aloe gel, active carbon or silver colloidal solution to the inside of her facial mask or bandana. Also using an antibacterial nasal spray in both nostrils before gearing up and afterwards is an extra safety bonus. Eyeglass wear is not perfect for protecting the eyes but in absence of proper gear, it will suffice. Consider a DIY hood shield mask made out of a retrofitted 2 liter plastic bottle, plastic bags, filtered straw breathing apparatus and a piece of moss (for humidity and air purification). Peat moss is used as a natural pool water filter. See picture of low tech Hazmat Suit down below.
Another consideration is to use wool garments for the patient and the care givers because wool is breathable, water repellent, moisture absorbent, keeps bacteria out, is temperature regulating and hypo allergenic. It is more comfortable than plastic by far. Doomsday Preppers Advisory! Retrofitted plastic bags, snorkel and mask with a filter attached to the end, motorcycle helmet reinforced with antibacterial filter, ski gloves, masks and caps made out of wool would make great low tech Hazmat solutions for emergency situations.
The third line of defense in prevention is hygiene. Extra care and precaution must be taken when suiting up or down and hand washing before putting on protective gear and afterwards is a must. Natural soap can be made by soaking peeled yucca root or from soap seeds. Natural aloe gel is a good hand sanitizer. Upon removal, protective gear and clothes must be immediately sterilized by boiling for 1 minute or washing in clorox. Portable UV lights can also be used for sterilization. For people living in areas where Ebola is prevalent please take extra precaution by carrying fresh aloe with you at all times. Please be vigilent when traveling by taxi and other means of public transportation because families often use taxis to take sick relatives to the hospital. Most importantly DO NOT RUB YOUR EYES, NOSE, EARS OR PUT YOUR FINGERS IN YOUR MOUTH! Areas of the body that absorb the quickest are under your arms, eyes, nostrils and area around your nose, forehead and your private areas.
Treatment: According to Dr. John Schieffelin’s study the sooner the patient is treated the better their chances are of survival. For example, 33% of patients with less than 100,000 copies of the virus per milliliter of blood at diagnosis ultimately died, compared with 94% mortality in those whose blood had more than 10 million copies per milliliter.
At the moment there are 3 known treatments for Ebola. The oldest known cure is to inject the blood from a patient who survived Ebola. And administering vaccines like Zmapp and VSV-EBOV. Now what can a person like Fatu do in a low tech setting? Following are some pointers. Tie a bandana soaked in aloe gel around the infected person’s mouth and nose. Get some wool long johns for the sick to wear (wool will mitigate spreading) or a wool blanket, and have them sleep under a mosquito net that has been treated with citronella and aloe. The mosquito net will function as an air filter/purifier and containment. Make a tent with a sheet if you do not have a mosquito net. Remember the heat and sweat from their bodies will attract mosquitos. Keep the patient hydrated with clean water or give them coconut water which is full of electrolytes. You can add a pinch of salt to the water if their blood pressure is low or take rosemary or sage tea to raise their blood pressure. If you have pure baking soda, mix ¼ teaspoonful of baking soda in ½ cup water and give this to the patient. This will improve the body’s pH and make the environment less hospitable for the virus. If the patient can’t hold anything down then place a wash cloth soaked in any of the above on the forehead, underarms or belly button as it will get absorbed and help balance the pH. Feed them mashed chick peas or healthy peanut butter. Foods high in Omega 3s play a huge role in endothelial health (blood vessels) so give them leafy greens, beet greens mixed with hard boiled egg and sprinkle with grapeseed or safflower oil (known to be good for treating Ebola). You can add moringa (nature’s best multi vitamin) to a salad or mix with hummus or peanut butter. Make sure the patient eats small portions throughout the day. Echinacea and honey suckle tea are known for treating Ebola as well as bitter kola and brazil nuts both contain selenium which is good for promoting healthy liver and adrenal glands.
Following is a list of infection control procedures for low tech settings. First line of defense in containment is when you suspect a family member has Ebola, get all young kids and elderly out of the house and have them stay with relatives.
Second line of defense in containment is to get the person who has Ebola to a hospital. To do this the chaperone and patient must wear protective gear and the interior of the vehicle must be adequately protected with a tarp where the patient will sit. Then call the hospital and announce that you are bringing a person with Ebola and ask for delivery instructions as they may have a designated area for incoming Ebola patients. Protective gear can be eye wear, motorcycle helmut, rain coat, golashes, gloves (preferably doubled up), taped on garbage bags, bandana that has been applied with aloe gel as a face mask or a make shift shield mask made from a 2 liter soda bottle. See image below.
The patient should be covered with a sheet or wool blanket, a raincoat, plastic bag or tarp. Proper disrobement protocol, car decontamination and house decontamination must be strictly applied. Extra precaution will be required when handling feces, vomit, urine, mucous, spit, semen, blood, tears or sweat. In a low tech setting care givers must always be suited up when handling infected excretions and place material in a garbage bag (double or triple if thin). Warning! Do not use clorox to clean urine as the mixture created is toxic! Use Thymol instead which is made out of Thyme or a natural disinfectant made from soaking orange, lime or lemon peels in vinegar. To dispose infected excretions locate a remote area away from rivers, farm land and villages and dig a hole that is at least 3 feet deep. Place the plastic bag in the hole, cover with soil and mark the area with rocks/sticks and a sign (use the universal skull and cross bones). House should be disinfected, sheets, patient’s feeding utensils should all be sterilized. When washing clothes and sheets boil for one minute. The same goes for cookware.
The third line of defense in containment is how to deal with family and visitors. Keeping family away from an infected patient is not easy. If allowed, visitors must be properly suited up, suited down after visitation and proper decontamination procedures must be followed. Not an ideal situation in limited settings. An interim solution is to allow visitors to speak to the patient on a speaker phone by the caregiver.
The fourth line of defense in containment is how to bury the dead. Another not so easy feat in countries steeped in cultural traditions. Respect, diplomacy and careful consideration must be adapted in these types of sensitive situations. Wrapping the deceased in a wool blanket, shrink wrapping and taping for extra added security is probably the safest method for a low tech burial. Local clerics or close family members can help mitigate these drastic measures with the families of the deceased.
With a plethora of “Open Letters” on the Internet, I decided to write my own. Here is my open letter to EVERYONE:
What has happened to us? Where has humanity escaped to? Where is our sense of compassion?
As Richard Branson recently said in his blog, “The dismantling of the Berlin Wall and end of the Cold War was ‘one of the greatest moments of our lives‘. In a world that is more interconnected and transparent than ever before, let’s raise our voices and call for a peaceful end to this conflict and the right of all human beings to live in peace.”
He went on to make a call on global leaders to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in the Ukraine with an online petition. You can sign it here.
To put it mildly I was estatic to learn of so many heartfelt efforts to elevate humanity and I eagerly added my name to the list of petitions. I myself am no stranger to letter writing. When Putin banned foreigners from adopting Russian orphans I sent him a letter requesting that he lift the ban and instead that he help orphanages conduct screenings and background checks on would be parents. One would think a background check would be a shoe-in for someone like Putin since he is an attorney, was the former head of Russia’s FBI agency, Lt. Colonel of the KGB, Prime Minister and this is his second time serving as the President of Russia.
For years I have sent letters to our various Popes asking them to get help for priests suffering from sexual addictions. Just like bullies, people aren’t born sexual predators, they become one when they are abused. The St. Luke Institute is a hospital dedicated to treating addiction problems for people of the cloth.
I even sent a letter to Bashar Al-Assad begging him to uphold the Hippocratic oath. Before becoming the President of Syria, Al-Assad was a doctor and had worked as physician in the army.
And yes, I even sent a letter to President Obama when I learned about the plight of unaccompanied minors. I grew up in Honduras and know all to well how hard it is to take the Pan American Highway and traverse multiple countries and swathes of deserts and to get all the way across Latin America to Texas. I honestly can’t fathom how someone could slap handcuffs and shackles on a child (some with disabilities) and ship them home without allowing them to receive their due process. I cried when I learned that many of these children were killed within hours of arriving in San Pedro Sula and by the very gangs they were trying to escape from.
Enough is enough. So today we can add my Open Letter to the list of suffrages and a desperate plea to uplift the rights of the voiceless, our children.
We must end child marriage, child slavery, child trafficking, child soldiers, FGM and any form of exploitation and degradation of children.
Please join me on this important quest to elevate humanity and to protect our children. It’s time to take your blinders off, stop pretending this is not happening and do something, anything.
If you want to learn more about orphans and what you can do to help them, feel free to peruse more here.