“Nepali refugee assaulted, seized”

“Nepali refugee assaulted, seized”

Democrat and Chronicle, 3/16/16

Today’s story in the Democrat and Chronicle evokes a visceral sadness. That the Nepali refugee Khada Khatel was attacked by several young black men is especially disheartening. That he would be left semi-conscious and lost in a wooded area I walk and bike past brings the horror home.



The best I can do right now is reprint two stories, From Rochester to Nepal with Love and Looking at refugees not as a technical problem but as human experience about Rochesterians who have commited themselves to helping refugees and building bridges between Rochester and Nepal. We can do something.

I am also reminded of the sticker Lisa Jacques recently placed on the door of her Monroe Avenue pet store: Refugees Welcome

• August 17, 2015

I have known Lynda Howland, a retired social worker, most of my life. D & C Letter-to-the-Editor readers know her well for her eloquent and passionate social commentary. When Lynda asked me to publicize the plight of earthquake victims in Nepal — and what you can do to help — I more than readily agreed. I know many Nepali students in the RCSD–especially at the Rochester International Academy–and helping their people back home strengthens my warm bond.

tibet child

Tibetan child sent supplies [Photo provide by Lynda Howland]

Lynda and Carole Schaub, of Perinton and sojourner to over 100 countries, have spent their adult lives traveling the world. With that comes a persistent guilt “first world” visitors often feel in “third world” nations. Over the years, the two have assuaged their guilt by providing supplies and donations to individuals, schools, orphanages, and clinics, primarily in Africa and Asia.

Carole purchased nets for a fisherman in Kenya whose wore out. Lynda has a school named for her in Uganda, The Lynda Caring Nursery School–aptly called–that she continues to support. Lynda, with friend Sid Rozenzweig (Dryden Theater goers know well Sid’s witty film intros) financed master degrees for a woman in Uganda and a man in Tanzania, and are funding a two-year college degree for a Syrian refugee girl who fled to Turkey. Lynda has also financed shipments of medical supplies and books to Africa. One of her adopted schools was, for a time, a sister school with one in Pittsford. Lynda is proud to have named the two children of her guide in West Papua, and has two children of friends named after her. Carole provided financial and emotional support to a young man in China.


Nepali villagers who cannot afford to rebuild live in tents. [Photo provided by Lynda Howland]

Lynda once brought supplies to Cuba: toothpaste, brushes and medicine, as well as baseballs and softballs I gladly contributed. Both kind hearted globetrotters have made many overseas friendships that have lasted for decades.

In April 2015 an earthquake (magnitude 7.8) killed more than 9,000 people in Nepal. Tens of thousands were injured and hundreds of thousands where made homeless when entire villages were flattened. Here I’ll let Lynda tell the story:

Carole and I have traveled to Nepal several times. A number of years ago Carole hired a trekking guide named Pasang Chiring with whom she has continued an email friendship.  Pasang and family reside in Charikharka in northern Nepal. The epicenter of a second earthquake (mag. 7.3) was located in the village — which was destroyed.  Since April, financial aid has been slow to arrive, and often isolated villages are left to fend for themselves. Pasang recently wrote: “In my village the things are same as after earthquake. Some people are going to rebuild their houses and some are not.  My house is same as after earthquake broke and we are still sleeping in Tents.  Everybody says that our government didn’t give anything. I know that lots of foreign people want to help Nepal for rebuilt but we didn’t get nothing.”

Here is how you can help.

In October, Lynda and Carole will travel to Chaurikharka to meet with Pasang and provide money to rebuild his home and that of as many other villagers as they can. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world; the wealth distribution starts at zero with many people living only off the land. In a country where manual laborers make $1.50 or less a day, imagine what even a dollar can do.


Cuban flag

As Lynda and Carole are not representative of any government — just citizens of the world — 100% of donations will go directly to Pasang and, hopefully, to other families and schools in Chaurikharka. As Lynda says, “We cannot help everyone in need, but at least we can help one or two. We will report back in full on where the donations went.”

 I am donating because I can afford at least a dollar — which is all it takes. More so, I am giving because I still imagine-especially now that Cuba and the US are nearing full reconciliation — boys and girls using my baseballs and softballs on a Caribbean field of dreams as blue dolphins play in the waves.

Contact Lynda Howland

71 Brook Rd.

Pittsford, NY 14534

(585) 381 7420

[email protected]


Looking at refugees not as a technical problem but as a human experience


The Fayez girls (17 and 20) on their trip from Istanbul to Sweden

This week my good friends Judy Bello and Lynda Howland spoke at a dinner at SUNY Geneseo to raise awareness and funds for Syrian refugees. Below is their account both of the trip and the work done on college campuses by Peace Action New York State to help us see Syrian and all refugees not as a technical problem but as a human experience.As a college teacher working with students at Keuka and Nazareth, I–like Judy and Lynda–do not at all view these young people as naive idealists whose commitment will end at graduation.  Many of them, like Judy and Lynda, will become lifetime activists for social justice.


Julie Everitt and Carol Kramer, Washington, D.C.

If you have any read print newspapers in the last decades, you have seen Lynda’s eloquent and passionate Letters-to-the-Editor. You also met her in From Rochester to Nepal with love. Aiding earthquake victims with your help

You met Judy in A pilgrimage of peace from Palmyra to Pittsford and you can find her most Sundays at the long vigil for peace on the corner of East and Goodman  

This year, Peace Action New York State (PANYS) has focused on building strong student chapters. And doing a great job.  Judy Bello has had several opportunities to meet these young people who just might be the next generation of  dedicated activists. In September, Judy was invited to speak by the Western New York Peace Center at Canisius College in Buffalo.  The subject was the war in Syria, a tough one for most Americans to wrap their minds around.  Later–first at Hobart William Smith in Geneva and just this week at SUNY Geneseo–Judy was invited by PANYS to give some background on the recent flood of refugees fleeing into Europe.


Refugee tents, Sweden

It is really great that in these difficult times young people are making the effort to understand the problems of others in countries burdened with war and famine and seemingly endless causes of suffering.  It is especially challenging now with complex wars ongoing and limited or distorted news coverage clouding our understanding of the issues.  All the better that their interest is driven by compassion.


Syrian Refugees

The chapter of PANYS at SUNY Geneseo arranged a dinner as a benefit for UNHCR  (the United Nations High Council on Refugees).  We wondered how many students had the money to attend a fund raiser, but the turnout was pretty good.  Along with about 40 students were half a dozen activists from the local antiwar community.  The  organizers earned several hundred dollars for the cause– not bad for a student fundraiser at a State University.

Judy talks about the issues that difficult to hear.  She thinks these youths, and many others, already know that something is missing, something is wrong with the picture they have been provided.  But it’s hard to hear the extent to  which US foreign policy and the decisions made by our own government make a critical contribution to the suffering of the people in the Middle East.  Most of these young people haven’t heard it clearly stated before.

fayez girls and other refugees staying strong

Fayez girls and other refugees staying strong

The students want to help.   As Americans, we are a can-do people and a good hearted people. But the cold realities justifying the destruction of a secular, multiethnic, religiously tolerant society and the deaths of hundred hundreds of thousands of people with millions more losing their homes and jobs over oil pipelines and political power games are hard to absorb.  Who could do such a thing?  Governments, like corporations, outsource costs.  That means they don’t take responsibility for the consequences of their actions.   We, the people have to do it.  Judy never knows how people are going to respond to this message, but these students give her hope for the future.

And then there is the visceral pain when you hear the story of an individual’s refugee’s pain. Lynda Howland told the story of a Syrian family consisting of Fayez, his wife and four daughters, that she befriended and later adopted,  as the  war there, little by little, took away everything they had as they faced a seemingly endless series of barriers before opportunities to start a new life began to emerge for them.   About a month ago, the two eldest daughters (ages 17 and  20) used smugglers to take them by boat from Istanbul (where they had fled earlier) to the island of Lesbo in Greece, and on across Europe to Sweden. In Sweden, where their father already has refugee status, they were given asylum.


The Fayez family years ago in Syria when Lynda first met them

Fayez’ wife and two younger daughters remain in Istanbul, as they don’t have the financial ability pay for the same  journey.  Lynda corresponds with Fayez and his wife regularly, following their journey in search of a better life and a future for their children.   Every day, and every step of the way, these people, like so many of the displaced people we call refugees yearn for the wars to end, for a chance to go home, and for life to go on as it was before.


The Fayez girls being interviewed by Greek TV

The politicians are looking at the refugees as a technical problem.  To solve the problem, we need to see it through the  eyes of those who are suffering, as a human problem, and to take responsibility for our part in creating it.  Another way  is possible.  But it requires more than resistance.  It requires intelligence and determination and compassion.  I want to honor these students for having the compassion to ask what is going on to cause so much suffering in the world, and the
courage to hear the answer.


From Rochester to Nepal with love. Aiding earthquake victims with your help.

Looking at refugees not as a technical problem but as a human experience

About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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