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Posts Tagged ‘help’

Photo: Don Anderson
From the Washington Post: “Almost 60 farmers in Divide County, N.D., showed up at Lane Unhjem’s family farm to harvest his crops after he had a heart attack.”

Sometimes it’s good to be reminded that there are communities where everybody helps everybody, where one person’s emergency is a call to action. I imagine that the North Dakota farmers who gave up a day to help a neighbor feel as great as the family that benefited. What goes ’round comes ’round.

As Sydney Page reports at the Washington Post, “Lane Unhjem was driving his combine harvester across a field of durum wheat on his North Dakota farm [in September], when suddenly smoke began billowing from the machine. …

“Unhjem’s neighbors saw the fire and raced over, helping him extinguish the blaze and saving the field from ruin. But the shock of the moment, coupled with the thick plumes of smoke Unhjem inhaled, triggered the 57-year-old farmer to go into cardiac arrest.

“ ‘He flatlined three times in the emergency room,’ his daughter Tabitha Unhjem, 31, said.

“Lane Unhjem, who also had a heart attack several years ago, was airlifted about 100 miles from his farm near Crosby, N.D., to a trauma center in Minot, N.D., where he remains in critical condition.

“When other farmers in Divide County, N.D., heard what happened to Unhjem on Sept. 9, they immediately halted their own harvesting.

Nearly 60 of them showed up at Unhjem’s farm, equipped with a range of heavy-duty machinery, to finish his harvest for him.

“ ‘I made a couple phone calls and started getting equipment offered left and right, plus the help to go with it,’ said Jenna Binde, 28, a fellow farmer and family friend of the Unhjems. …

“Dozens of farmers and neighbors congregated at Unhjem’s farm on Sept. 12, bringing with them 11 combine harvesters, six grain carts and 15 semi-trucks. They spent almost eight hours harvesting 1,000 acres — an area comparable to 758 football fields — of durum wheat and canola. …

“What the group accomplished in one day would have taken Unhjem nearly two weeks to complete on his own, estimated Brad Sparks, a neighboring farmer.

“ ‘There were guys there who had their own harvest to do, and they just quit and came to help,’ said Sparks, who was there with his machinery that day. … ‘In this part of the country, any time anybody needs a helping hand, everybody will stop what they’re doing at the drop of a hat and come help.’ …

“ ‘If we hadn’t done it, I don’t know if he would have gotten the crop off in time,’ said Binde, adding that weather affects the quality of the crops. “It was crucial to get it off when we did. It’s one less thing for the family to worry about.’ …

“If the fellow farmers hadn’t stepped up to help, Tabitha Unhjem said, it would have been devastating for them. ‘This farm is our livelihood,’ she said.

“Lane Unhjem grew up on the farm, which has been in his family for more than six decades.

“ ‘This is the farm our dad was raised on and we were all raised on,’ [Unhjem daughter Toni White] said. ‘He has dedicated his whole life to this farm and to this community.’ …

“ ‘He has a long road ahead,’ White said. “We are looking at months of recovery. This is going to be a marathon. She called it a blessing that the other farmers were able to get to her father and the farm so quickly. ‘We were so thankful for that,’ White said.

“But for the farmers, ‘this is just something that comes naturally. This is the farming way of life,’ Binde said. …

“ ‘You can’t truly appreciate it unless you were there,’ [local photographer Don Anderson] said. ‘The ground was rumbling. It’s not only something you felt emotionally, but it was also a physical feeling. It was really something to be proud of.’ ” More at the Post, here.

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Photo: Ferg Horn via Associated Press
Two rabbits sat on the back of sheep to avoid rising flood waters on a farm near Dunedin, New Zealand, in July.

As we have all seen recently, a silver lining to hurricane devastation is that people who otherwise would never meet reach out instinctively to help each other in the rising waters.

Here is a story of animals helping other animals, albeit unwittingly. It took place in New Zealand, before either Hurricane Harvey or Irma.

As Nick Perry reported at the Boston Globe, “Three wild rabbits managed to escape rising floodwaters in New Zealand by clambering aboard sheep and surfing to safety on their backs.

“Ferg Horne, 64, says he’s been farming since he left school at age 15 and has never seen anything quite like it.

“He was trudging through pelting rain to rescue a neighbor’s 40 sheep from the floodwaters [at] their South Island farm near Dunedin when he spotted some dark shapes from a distance.

“He was puzzled because he knew his neighbor, who was away in Russia attending a nephew’s wedding, didn’t have any black-faced sheep. As he got closer, he thought it might be debris from the storm, which had drenched the area and forced Horne to evacuate his home.

“Then he saw the bedraggled rabbits hitching a ride — two on one sheep and a third on another sheep.

‘‘ ‘I couldn’t believe it for a start,’ he said.

“Nobody else would believe him either without proof, he thought, so he got out his phone to take a photo, an image he figured his grandchildren would enjoy. In fact, he inadvertently shot a short video. …

“Horne herded the sheep to a patch of dry ground on the farm about 50 meters (164 feet) away. The sheep didn’t like it.

‘‘ ‘As they jumped through the water, the rabbits had a jolly good try at staying on,’’ Horne said.

“He said the rabbits appeared to cling onto the wool with their paws. As they approached the higher ground, the rabbits fell off but managed to climb a hedge to safety.”

More.

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I learn some really cool things from the Christian Science Monitor. (I’m on their listserv for stories about people helping people, the CMS Change Agent newsletter.)

A recent newsletter highlighted an initiative by successful Mexicans living in New York who have decided to offer practical support to poor immigrants from their homeland.

Tyler J. Kelly writes, “The view from Carlos Valverde’s 38th-floor office tells a story by itself – New York stretching below, the mighty skyscrapers of the World Trade Center rising all around.

“Mr. Valverde is the construction manager of the World Trade Center’s Tower Three, responsible for 2 million square feet of real estate, and the vista from his office is, in many ways, the realized vision of many immigrants’ dreams.

“From Brooklyn’s workaday Sunset Park, however, the view is quite different. There, at classes put on by a nonprofit, the Mixteca Organization, six to eight immigrants sit in folding chairs around plastic tables struggling to spell tarea, Spanish for ‘homework,’ or trying to understand the concept of the hundreds’ place in math. …

“In Mexican culture – both in Mexico and here in New York – there’s little tradition of people bridging these two worlds. But that is changing. Valverde is part of a slowly growing effort to bring the resources of New York’s Mexican-American 1 percent to bear on the problems of the 99 percent.

“The benefits for the immigrant community here are plain. Edgar Morales, for one, has gone from being a construction worker to getting a college education paid for by a Mexican philanthropist. He’s now a computer science major with dreams of interning at Google or Microsoft.

“But it has also changed Valverde, who volunteers at Mixteca in Sunset Park, and others like him. In Mexico, the wealthy travel with bodyguards and live in houses surrounded by electrified wire; in the US, some are reaching and gaining a new perspective.

“After spending hours talking with clients about every conceivable detail of an elevator’s interior, Valverde says, ‘I go to Sunset Park and talk to a graduate [at Mixteca] who just finished English 3 and is a baker.’

“Compared with the baker’s reality, he says, the elevator issues seem ‘minute, minuscule.’ ”

More here.

Photo: Ann Hermes/Christian Science Monitor
Carlos Valverde (standing outside 3 World Trade Center in New York) helps new, less affluent Mexican immigrants go to school and find work.

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Sometimes I wish I lived closer to where the migrants are pouring into Europe. When I read, for example, about all that Germany is doing, how organized the country is about getting people acclimated, helping with housing and language, it makes me want to sign up. In Samos, Greece, Suzanne’s friend’s family spent weeks buying and distributing food, diapers, and other necessities.

Mark Turner writes at UNHCR Tracks about a chef who acted on his impulse to do his bit. He “packed his knives, drove to Croatia and started cooking.

“After serving up 6,000 piping-hot meals for refugees, the Swedish chef’s big wooden spoon is looking worse for wear.

“ ‘It wasn’t broken when I began,’ says Victor Ullman, a 27-year-old from Lund, displaying a large wedge-shaped hole as he pulls it from a simmering pot.

“But long days and nights serving stew to thousands of Syrians, Afghans, Iraqis and many others have taken their toll. ‘As long as I am awake, I am cooking,’ he says. …

“We’re in Bapska, Croatia, a few hundred metres from the border with Serbia, where tens of thousands of refugees have [crossed], seeking safety in Europe.

“They arrive by foot, in baby strollers, in wheelchairs, hour after hour, day after day, wet, hungry, exhausted, on an epic trek towards the unknown.

“And all along the way they are met by an army of volunteers from across Europe, drawn by an overwhelming desire to help.

“There’s Florian, the small farmer from Austria; Ghais, a Syrian who made it to Europe last year; Livija, a trainee pizza maker from Berlin; Stefan, a long-distance walker (‘3,200 kilometres in 82 days!”’); Danjella, a former refugee from Bosnia.

“There are activists and BMW workers, students, sociologists and physiotherapists, sporting fluorescent yellow waistcoats marked with their name and spoken languages, reassuring the crowds, united by a sense of shared humanity.”

Victor “also feeds the aid workers and the Croatian police, who he says are good guys doing their best. ‘They call me the crazy Swede,’ he adds.

“Victor shows me a pair of boots given to him by one policeman, after he’d given his own shoes away to a refugee. ‘I love these shoes,’ he says. ‘They’re like a memory from here – one of them. Spread the love!’ ” More here.

(Jane D: thanks for the lead on twitter.)

Photo: Igor Pavicevic

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