Friday, October 24, 2014

Celebrating the Festival of Lights

There are many common values among the many faith traditions that span our globe. This week, we join with our Hindu, Sikh, and Jain brothers and sisters to celebrate Diwali, also known as Deepavali and the "festival of lights." This ancient Hindu festival, celebrated in autumn every year, signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. The festival coincides with the Hindu New Year and normally occurs sometime in late October through early November.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bread for the World, CROP Walk: An Enduring Presence in New Mexico

Isotopes mascot Orbit is often seen at the CROP Walk
This is a big weekend for anti-hunger activities in Albuquerque. On Saturday, October 25, we have our Bread Rising in New Mexico event to celebrate Bread for the World's 40th birthday and 30 years of presence in  New Mexico. On Sunday, October 26, dozens of people of faith will participate in the CROP Walk, which has taken place in Albuquerque for at least as long as Bread for the World has been here (and maybe longer) The two activities complement each other very nicely, since Bread is focused on anti-hunger advocacy and efforts to change the system, and CROP Walk (a project of the national organization Church World Service). has done a great job of raising funds each year for hunger and disaster relief.

The Albuquerque CROP Walk is just one of many hunger walks scheduled in communities around the state this year. Groups in Curry County, the Four Corners,, Las Vegas and Gallup already held their hunger walks in the past few weeks, and others are scheduled in Los Alamos, Las Cruces and Carlsbad in October and November.  A group in Roswell plans to have a  CROP Walk in that community in southeastern New Mexico this spring. See full New Mexico schedule

St. Paul Lutheran Church walkers (Photo: Church World Service)
A northern route in 2014
Many churches around the city have served as starting and ending points for the local CROP Walk, including Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Central United Methodist Church, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Second Presbyterian Church, First Congregational Church, St. Andrew Presbyterian Church and others..One year the CROP Walk was held on the  Albuquerque West Side, but I don't recall which church was the starting point. This year, the walk will take place in the northern part of town,with participants leaving Holy Cross Lutheran Church (6901 Wyoming Blvd.) and walking 3.3 miles around the perimeter trail of Albuquerque Academy and Hoffmantown Church. Registration begins at 1:15 p.m., with the walk starting at 2:00 p.m. There will be a soup dinner at 4:00 p.m.  For more information contact Judy Gibbs

Participants are raising money two ways,  1) through direct appeals to their friends, neighbors and fellow church member and online. Online donations stood at more than $4,000 as of  Oct. 21. Click here to donate online   Register online (You can walk with a church or organization or as an individual). Last year, participants--including more than 25 faith communities and businesses--raised $23,768.00, almost a 30% increase over 2012  Will there be another increase this year? One-fourth of the money raised stays in the community, with funds donated this year to the Rio Grande Food Project and Project Share.  The other 75% of the funds will help CWS anti-hunger and disaster relief efforts in our country and around the globe.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Just the Right Attitude Honors Bread Member Sister Jane Remson

JTRA honors Sister Jane Remson and NOAAHH
The New Orleans-based organization Just the Right Attitude (JTRA) honored Carmelite Sister Jane Remson and New Orleans Artists Against Hunger and Homelessness (NOAAHH) for their work to address hunger and homelessness in New Orleans at its First Annual Brunch  this fall. Sister Jane, who heads Bread for the World New Orleans, is also founding president of NOAAHH.

(Photo: (Left to right) Corey Evans, Sr., JTRA President; Debra South Jones, JTRA Founder and Executive Director; Sr. Jane F. Remson, O.Carm., NOAAHH Executive Board Member Emeritus; Pierre Hilzim)

The work of JTRA, NOAAHH and Bread for the World New Orleans is crucial in the City of New Orleans, which has the second-highest rate of food hardship in the United States, according to the Food Research and Action Center. Food hardship is defined as the lack of money to buy food that families need and is considerably worse for households with children. An estimated 17,000 to 19,000 men, women and children in the New Orleans area are homeless.

JTRA, founded by executive director Debra South Jones, has been working to address hunger in New Orleans since 1999.  In 2013 JTRA served more than 800,000 pounds of food, over 8,000 meals per month, hundreds of turkey giveaways at Thanksgiving, and bikes and toys giveaways at Christmas. After Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, JTRA partnered with NOAAHH and United Way to serve thousands of needy families in Louisiana and Mississippi. It is the largest neighborhood-based emergency food distribution agency in New Orland and the largest single-site distribution agency in New Orleans.

NOAAHH, founded in 1985 by renown recording and performing artists Allen Toussaint and Aaron Neville, raises funds through concerts and other special campaigns to provide funding for organizations that serve the poor, hungry and homeless in the New Orleans area. To date NOAAHH has distributed more than $1 million in grants to 50 plus area organizations. In 2013, NOAAHH donated $42,000 to 15 community organizations.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Bread Members in Alabama Ensure that Hunger is Addressed in Upcoming Election for Open Seat in Sixth District

The elections in 2014 (congressional) and 2016 (congressional and presidential) are vitally important to Bread for the World. Bread wants to help end hunger by 2030, and to do that, it needs to help build the political will to make hunger a national priority by 2017. Starting with this year’s elections, Bread hopes it can get a Congress and new president who are behind these goals.   from  "Hunger is an Election Issue"
Posing with Rep. Bachus at Bread Lobby Day 2014
A group of Bread for the World members in Alabama, led by Suzanne Stigler Martin and Kristin Farmer, are making sure that hunger becomes an issue in the congressional election for the open seat in the 6th Congressional District. The Bread advocates met with Democrat Mark Lester on Sept. 18 and Republican Gary Palmer on October 6.  The two candidates are running for the seat that is being vacated by Rep. Spencer Bachus (who has been a strong ally of Bread in the fight against hunger and poverty).

In New Mexico, we know from personal experience that the meetings are useful in ensuring that candidates become familiar Bread for the World  and also start thinking about hunger. We met with five candidates in November 2011 when the seat in the First Congressional District first became vacant, and again in October 2012, when two finalists were running in the general election. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who has become an anti-hunger champion through her work in the House Agriculture Committee, won that election.

In their meetings with candidates Lester and Palmer, the Alabama Bread members asked the candidates  two questions.

1. Will you prayerfully and thoughtfully consider U.S. Government programs targeted at reducing poverty and eradicating hunger and poverty?

2. How do you believe that the U.S. Government can best attack issues of hunger and poverty?

Below are the responses for the two candidates.

Mark Lester

Gary Palmer

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Grow the Future NM to Host First Annual Vegg Fest

Grow the Future NM invites you to  the first annual VEGG Fest on Saturday, October 18, at  Cornelio Candelaria, Organics, 505 Foothill Rd,  SW (Map), in the Albuquerque South Valley.  

The event will feature Burque Sol, Wake Self and other local bands, local food and family fun The event will start with the regular Saturday Market at the Farm from 8:00am-1:00pm, followed by the festival from 1:00pm-10:00pm. 

For more information contact Grow the Future, or (505) 331-6390

Monday, October 13, 2014

Photographs from World Homeless Day in Downtown Albuquerque

The global community observed World Homeless Day on Friday, October 10. In Albuquerque,ABQ Cares For All organized a public gathering the next day at Civic Plaza in downtown Albuquerque. About 300 people attended this community event on this beautiful Saturday afternoon. A number of fun activities were featured. There was reggae music that got people up dancing. There was art-making for parents and children and everyone else (ArtStreet's table). And there was a huge "Blessings for Burque" backpack giveaway to folks who were homeless, stocked with food and toiletry items.

Organizers said the purpose of the event was to foster community among Albuquerqueans: housed and “non-housed.” with our common interest being to draw attention to the need for everyone in Albuquerque to have a home.

If you want more information or want to get involved in next year's event, visit the ABQ Cares for All Facebook page  or contact: Page Nall,

Below are a few photographs from Saturday's events, taken by Carlos Navarro. (Text by Karen Navarro)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Water-Rights Activist and Farmer Evelyn Curtis-Losack Featured Speaker at Local World Food Day Dinner

 "[Evelyn Curtis-Losack] unselfconscious octogenarian heroine, tending to the land and the History of Corrales New Mexico; selling her peaches, making her best apple pies, writing letters and teaching music." -Stacia Spragg-braude, author and photographer
"...having had the pleasure of meeting Evelyn at the Corrales growers market, she is fun, forthcoming, wise and did  I mention Fun."  -Katherine Chavez, organizer for New Mexico Oxfam Action Corps
Evelyn Curtis-Losak, Kathy Chavez, Alida Davila Larrichio
After reading those two quotes, you really, really want to meet Evelyn Curtis-Losak. She is a woman farmer and water rights activist who lives right here in our community.  Ms. Curtis-Losak is Losack, co-founder of the Corrales Cultural Arts Council, the Corrales Harvest Festival, and the Corrales Growers' Market,

You can learn more about Ms. Curtis-Losak's storied life through photographs and text in Stacia Spragg-braude's book entitled If There's Squash Bugs in Heaven, I Ain't Staying: Learning to Make the Perfect Pie, Sing When You Need to and Find the Way Home

Better yet. There are two ways to meet ms Curtis-Losak in person. The first is to go to the Corrales Growers Market on Sundays and chat with her at her produce stand. The second way is to attend the New Mexico Oxfam Action Corps annual World Food Day Community Dinner. on Saturday, October 18, 6:00-8:00 p.m. at First Congregational Church. Ms. Curtis-Losak is the featured speaker.

The  World Food Day meal will be entirely local, made by a community chef from food purchased or donated at the Albuquerque Downtown Growers Market.  The organizers invite you to gather in solidarity with people who grow the world’s food and add to the discussion about where your food comes from, who cultivates it, and learn how you can take personal actions that will help protect farmers and farmland. :"Most of the food will be purchased on the day of the dinner from the Downtown Growers Market and cooked on site,"  Kathy Chavez  said in the New Mexico Oxfam Action Corps blog.,. Some food items have already been prepared and frozen, including quelites, verdolagas, and tamales.

Tte New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light is co-hosting the dinner.Other organizations are providing support, including Food Corps-New Mexico, ABQ Hours Exchange, Slow Food ABQ, and Bread New Mexico.

Click Here to Reserve Your Free Ticket (s) for the Dinner

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Commemorating International Day of the Girl

Colors saturated the walls in the room where the writing club gathered at J.L. Zwane. Purple along one side, orange on the opposite, anchored by yellow at each end. On Saturday afternoons for a year, anywhere from 4 to 22 girls, ages 13 through 20, gathered. At our first meeting, we brainstormed together for a name. They settled on Amazw’Entombi, “Voices of the Girls.”  -Kimbery Burge on Writing with the Girls of Gugulethu (Of Note Magazine)
The Born Frees
My friend Kimberly Burge, a journalist and author, came to Gugulethu in South Africa as a Fulbright Scholar in 2010 to lead a weekly creative writing club for teen-aged girls, based at J.L. Zwane Presbyterian Church and Community Center. From her experiences and the words of many of these girls, she wrote The Born Frees, a book about girls growing up in post-apartheid South Africa.  The title will be published next August by WW. Norton. You can get a taste of the contents of the book via a great piece that  Kimberly wrote for Of Note magazine. The above quote is from the article, which is available online 

Given her experiencs in South Africa, I think it was more than appropriate that Kimberly be the one to write a piece about the International Day of the Girl Child for the Bread blog. In 2012, the U.N. declared October 11 an official celebration of girls to raise awareness about gender inequality and issues that affect girls around the world. While girls experience higher levels of poverty and hunger, they also hold the key to greater development. The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) is the main sponsor of the global celebration. The United States has its own Day of the Girl committee.

"It’s fitting that today’s the day Malala Yousafzai has been named a co-recipient of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize (along with Indian children’s rights activist Khailash Satyarthi)," Kimberly wrote in a piece for the Bread blog dated Oct. 10. "Tomorrow is the third celebration of International Day of the Girl Child.  Malala captured the world’s attention when she was shot in the head by the Taliban for attending school and actively encouraging other girls to be in school in the Swat Valley, where she lived in Pakistan. After her remarkable recovery, she has become internationally renowned as an advocate for girls’ education worldwide. October 11 is an important day " 

The blog post makes a very important point.  "Opportunities abound to empower girls. Right now, the follow-up plan is being developed for the post-2015 next steps in the Millennium Development Goals. A panel – co-chaired by Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, U.K. prime minister David Cameron, and Indonesian president Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono – recommended that  the post-2015 agenda should include a specific goal to empower girls and women."   Read full blog post

Several humanitarian organizations have planned their own commemorations of  Day of the Girl. Here are examples of how a couple of these organizations are observing this day.
Catholic Relief Services
Catholic Relief Services is urging supporters to  share the image on the left on Facebook. "Today, the International Day of the Girl, we remember our sisters and daughters around the world—especially the 31 million girls of primary school age who are not enrolled in school," said CRS. "That’s a big—and disturbing—number. Girls who don’t attend school are more likely to be married off in childhood, live in poverty and experience physical or sexual violence. That’s shocking. That’s unacceptable. And we won’t stand for it. With your help, Catholic Relief Services is using education to protect vulnerable girls overseas.
CARE: Through the Eyes of a Girl
CARE has put together a a gallery of videos entitled Through the Eyes of a Girl. In August and September 2013, CARE staff carrying colored pencils, pastels, paint and paper visited school girls in Madagascar, Honduras, Georgia, Ghana and India. It was screened at the "Through the Eyes of a Girl" exhibition, a collection of nearly 100 vivid, poignant works of art depicting the joys and struggles experienced by girls and young women around the world in pursuit of their education  Follow this link to see these great videos.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Celebrating Our Faithful Bread for the World Churches in New Mexico

This is a milestone year for Bread for the World in New Mexico. Not only is our national organization turning 40 years young, but Bread commemorates 30 years of anti-hunger advocacy in the Land of Enchantment. Please join us at our Bread Rising in New Mexico celebration on Saturday, October 25, at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church.  (See Program and  Register Here).

Writing Letters after Student Mass, Newman Center (2010)
As part of our celebration we recognize the backbone of Bread in New Mexico for most or all of the past three decades: our churches and faith communities. Four of these churches have remained our partners since the early days--St. Andrew Presbyterian Church and St. Paul Lutheran Church in Albuquerque, First Presbyterian Church in Santa Fe and  Peace Lutheran Church in Las Cruces. Each of these churches has made it a priority to conduct an Offering of Letters every year.

Most of our faith communities below have also organized Offerings of Letters, participated in Hunger Sunday in October and donated to Bread for the World either through the Covenant Church Program or a simple gift to the organization. (And even as we speak about "church involvement" in Bread for the World, we fully recognize that is individual Bread members and other volunteers and committees at these churches who promoted the letter-writing campaigns to the congregation via church bulletins or from the pulpit, set up the writing tables with the sample letters and explain the details of the campaign to letter writers). Our members have used very creative means to promote the OL, including skits at All Saints Lutheran Church and St. Andrew Presbyterian Church and detailed bulletin announcements at Peace Lutheran Church.

Circle of Protection Service, Immanuel Presbyerian Church
Special Events
Some churches have also hosted special events: Immanuel Presbyterian Church (our 35th anniversary event, featuring Bread co-founder Father Bill Byron, S.J, and two Circle of Protection services), and St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church (joint conference with Lutheran Advocacy Ministry, featuring David Beckmann).  Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, Monte Vista Christian Church, Iglesia Congregacional Unida and St. Timothy Lutheran Church also hosted our ecumenical worship services, and St. Thomas of Canterbury Episcopal Church hosted our One Agape service. Many churches also hosted our Saturday monthly meetings during the 1990s.  Organizations like Church Women United., CROP Walk, the Center for Action and Contemplation and the Social Justice Office of the Catholic Archdiocese of Santa Fe, the Presbytery of Santa Fe and others have also given us support during the years.

The list below celebrates all these churches and organizations. The list was compiled from records and from my own personal recollections, so I apologize if I missed any faith communities--particularly from the late 1980s (before I moved to New Mexico).

Cathy Pfefferle, Jeanne Elmhorst, Albuquerque Mennonite Church
Albuquerque Area:
Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Aquinas Newman Center Catholic Community, Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church,St. Joseph Catholic Church (JustFaith class), Church of the Risen Savior Catholic Community, St. John XXIII Catholic Community, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Norbertine Community, Franciscan Sisters, St. Michael and All Angels Episocopal Church, St. Thomas of Canterbury Episcopal Church,, All Saints Lutheran Church, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Luther House, Holy
Skit promoting OL, St. Andrew Prebyterian Church
Cross Lutheran Church, St. Luke Lutheran Church, St. Timothy Lutheran Church, Albuquerque Mennonite Church, First United Methodist Church, Central United Methodist Church, Trinity United Methodist Church, Mesa Vista United Methodist Church, La Mesa Presbtyerian Church, First Presbyterian Church, St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, New Life Presbyterian Church, Second Presbyterian Church, Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Rio Grande Presbyterian Church, Shepherd of the Valley Presbyterian Church, Cristo del Valle United Presbyterian Church, Iglesia Congregacional Unida,  First Congregational Church, Church of the Good Shepherd-UCC, First Unitarian Church.

Women's Group at Smith Memorial Presbyterian Church

Chama: St. Jerome Episocopal Church
Española: St. Stephen Episcopal Church
Farmington: Trinity Lutheran Church 
Gallup: First United Methodist Church 
Truchas: Smith Memorial Presbyterian Church
Los Alamos: Bethlehem Lutheran Church, White Rock Presbyterian Church,  United Church of Los Alamos
Rio Rancho: Rio Rancho Presbyterian Church, Felician Sisters

Laverne Kaufman (center),Peace Lutheran Church, Las Cruces

Las Cruces: Peace Lutheran Church, St. Paul United Methodist Church, Immaculate Heart of Mary Cathedral (JustFaith class)
Santa Fe: First Presbyterian Church, St. Bede's Episcopal Church, St. John's United Methodist Church, Westminster Presbyterian Church, United Church of Santa Fe, Christ Lutheran Church.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Attorneys Work to Protect SNAP Benefits for New Mexico Families

Sovereign Hager, Louise Pocock, and Jason Riggs
Sovereign Hager and Louise Pocock, staff attorneys at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, were guest speakers at the October meeting of the Interfaith Hunger Coalition.

Ms Hager and Ms. Pocock specialize in providing support and education and protecting public benefits for New Mexico families, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which is a federal program administered by the state government. 

The rules (and rule changes) and red tape required for families to obtain SNAP benefits can be complicated and daunting, and the state government often adds bureaucratic obstacles (sometimes rooted in political idealism).  These obstacles often prevent eligible families from participating in the program. For example, the New Mexico Human Services Department announced plans this past summer to limit food stamps available to adults by expanding mandatory job search requirements to include households with children and work requirements for all childless adults. Food stamps.would be terminated for up to one year for participants who do not comply with mandatory job search and up to three years for those who do not complete 20-hour work week requirements. This makes little sense in a state where unemployment is very high.

A presentation to the Interfaith Hunger Coalition
SNAP and (the lack of) jobs
Ms. Hager and Ms. Pocock provided an overview of the situation in presentation to the Interfaith Hunger Coalition in October. Some of the points that were presented are contained in a briefing paper that NMCLP put together  in August. (The faith community, including coalition member Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-New Mexico and the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, have also spoken out against the new state directive).

Ms. Hager addressed the issue at the end of  August in an Op-Ed published the Las Cruces News-Sun.

"Contrary to the Department's thinking, however, New Mexico families don't need to be told to find jobs or made to jump through hoops to be sure they are looking for work," wrote Ms. Hager. "They need job opportunities and assistance in making ends meet until a job is available. Research shows that the overwhelming majority of SNAP participants who can work do work. They use the program when a family member loses their job or faces other hardships."

"SNAP participants who are not working do not lead easy lives; 44 percent of participants live in deep poverty, earning less than $12,000 for a family of four," Ms. Hager added in the opinion piece. "Many live in areas like Doña Ana County, where unemployment is 7.1 percent, well above the national average and rising. These are the families most affected by the lack of opportunity in New Mexico. These people need jobs, not bureaucratic barriers."   Read Rull Op-Ed 

State tweaks original rule
The HSD and Secretary Sidonie Squier clearly did not consider the unemployment question when issuing the decree, which resulted in a huge outcry. As a partial response a month later, the HSD decided  to make exemptions in communities with high unemployment rates (such as Taos).

In an interview with The Albuquerque Journal in September, Ms. Hager expressed concern about HSD’s ability to administer the new regulations. She alluded to a May ruling by a federal judge that the agency was not processing food and health care benefits in a timely manner.
So what happens next? The state is still on schedule to phase in the new regulations on Nov. 1.  And the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, with  thesupport of the Interfaith Hunger Coalition and other faith-community groups, will continue to fight the changes proposed  by the state.

"It is certainly not time to make low-income families, their children and local businesses suffer because some policy makers wrongly believe that 27 percent of Doña Ana County residents are lazy or irresponsible because they accept food assistance," Ms. Hager said in her Op-Ed in the Las Cruces Sun-News in August. "Let HSD show data that job search and work requirements move SNAP participants into jobs."

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

An Invitiation from our Regional Organizer Robin Stephenson

Dear Bread for the World members in New Mexico,

You are invited to join Bread for the World members for a special 40th anniversary celebration on Saturday, October 25 at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque at 3:30 p.m.

For 40 years, people of faith have been living out their call to end hunger with Bread for the World through prayer, advocacy, and generosity. The people of New Mexico have played an important role in Bread’s history. Over the years, you have called on your members of Congress to successfully support legislation that reduced hunger both at home and abroad.

The two-hour celebration will include special guest speakers, music, prayer, and light refreshments.
During this special celebration, we will reflect on the past and make new commitments to ending hunger by 2030 as part of the nationwide Bread Rising campaign.

Join Bread for the World’s board member and volunteer state coordinator Carlos Navarro and other Bread members. For additional details or questions, contact Carlos at or at 505-298-6238.

We hope to see you there! Register here.

In peace,

Robin Stephenson
Senior regional organizer at Bread for the World for New Mexico

P.S. You can also show your support via Bread New Mexico's Facebook event

Monday, October 06, 2014

Chikunguña Virus Spreading in Latin America, Caribbean

This post starts with an update on ebola, but it really is about  chikunguña, a viral disease that has quietly appeared in the Caribbean, and Central America and South America.

First, let me give you the ebola update. According to some experts, the latest ebola outbreak has killed more people in a handful of countries in sub-Saharan Africa than previous outbreaks. (Nearly 3,500 people had died from the disease in four West African countries as of the end of September) The coverage in our news media recently has centered  on the few cases that have appeared in the U.S., including the case discovered at a hospital in Dallas , the NBC News freelancer who is being treated in Nebraska,  and the sick child treated in Miami who DOES NOT APPEAR to have the virus. Thankfully, Doctors Without Borders and other organizations are providing updates about the majority of the victims in Africa. 

Spread by mosquitoes
Now to Chikunguña, a disease that might have afflicted tens of thousands in Latin America and the Caribbean. Chikunguña, which is transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes such as Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, can cause high fever, joint and muscle pain, and headache.

"Chikungunya does not often result in death, but the joint pain may last for months or years and may become a cause of chronic pain and disability," said the Panamerican Health organization.(PANO).  "There is no specific treatment for chikungunya infection, nor any vaccine to prevent it. Pending the development of a new vaccine, the only effective means of prevention is to protect individuals against mosquito bites."

Even though PANO points out that death is unlikely for most infected persons, 113 fatalities have been reported in relation to the disease in recent months, all in the Caribbean. One death, which was not included in  the PANO statistics as of  mid-September, was subsequently reported in  Colombia.

Classes suspended due to outbreak
El Salvador affected most in Central America
In Central America, there were 105 confirmed cases of the disease as of mid-September, but there were tens of thousands of other "suspicious cases."

The largest number of confirmed infections was in El Salvador, which reported 54 cases, followed by Panama with 25 and Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica each in the teens. According to the Costa Rican newspaper Tico Times, more than 16,000 suspected cases had been detected in El Salvador as of mid-September. Authorities suspended classes in seven municipalities because of the outbreak.

That number might be conservative.  "In the case of El Salvador, there Health Ministry was reporting more than 22,000 suspected cases, including 381 infants under 1year of age and 2,367 between the age of 1 and 9," said "It is worth mentioning that these cases were determined through a diagnosis by a physician and were not submitted to lab tests."

Albuquerque connection
Which brings us to the connection to Albuquerque. The local Friends of the Children of El Salvador (FOCES) has had long relationship with the San Salvador-based  Association for the Promotion of the Human Rights of the Children of El Salvador Aprodheni,

Many of the cases in El Salvador have been detected in the area served by Aprodheni, and Gil Pinitn, director of the organization, is seeking financial assistance to help purchase supplies to fight the virus.(According to, chikunguña has been detected in 90% of the municipalities in El Salvador. About 54% of the cases involved children under age 9).

If you'd like to help, write a check to FOCES, and mail it  to Mark Peceny, 7713 Summer Ave NE, Albuquerque, N.M., 87110.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Election Issue: Ending Hunger Has to be a Priority in New Mexico

I hesitated when deciding to post this video.  I shy away from using this blog as an endorsement vehicle for any political candidate. After viewing the video several times, I decided it was a no-brainer to share it publicly.The video makes a very strong point:: ending hunger in New Mexico should be a priority. (And we have written many times about the efforts of our congresswoman, who sits on the House Agriculture Committee, to protect SNAP benefits for the most vulnerable citizens in our state).