Alexander Lakhanpal | Humanitarian Efforts

Alexander Lakhanpal is a committed philanthropist

Category: Blog (Page 1 of 2)

Ways to Bring Awareness to the African Food Crisis

The food crisis in Africa has been a global issue for over 30 years. From drought to starvation, the problems within these countries in Africa are some of the most tragic situations that the world is facing. Yet, the issues in Africa are not at the forefront of news outlets or on the minds of most people on a daily basis. There are ways to help fight the famine in Africa and bring awareness to problems not directly in front of you.


The Situation

In 2016 alone, 4.9 million people of which accounts for over 40% of South Sudan’s population, were still in need of urgent food and assistance of nutrition and agriculture. Now in 2017, the country is still facing famine caused by war and drought. 30% of the country is facing malnutrition of families as well. Sudan is not the only African country facing hard times. Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia are some of the others that are in dire need of food.


This year, the United Nations officially declared a famine in South Sudan and announced its fear that it could spread fast without a drastic intervention.


These statistics can be shocking but it is even more jarring to imagine you or your own family in the situation that these people are facing. It also beckons the question of what you can do to help others who are not directly in front of your own eyes.


The Solutions

There are resources for you to do your part in helping this extreme famine. International organizations are gearing up to do their part in contributing support to this horrific situation.

  1. Donate

There are various organizations online and across the globe that directly accept donations to send aid to the civilians living in South Sudan who are being affected by this crisis. Your donations go to those living in Sudan, Kenya, and Ethiopia to provide humanitarian support that ranges from urgent food supplies to farming resources that are directed towards helping rebuild the community and livelihoods of the African people.


  1.   Awareness

The crisis in Africa can not be solved alone, it will take a mass of people to educate themselves on the issue. Social media is an amazing tool to help in getting other engaged with this issue. Whether you tweet an article or post an image, the famine in Africa should not be out of mind from people across the globe.

U.N. Rights Expert, on Visit to Philippines, Denounces ‘War on Drugs’ Approach

MANILA — Implicitly rebuking the leader of the Philippines on a visit to his country, the United Nations’ top expert on extrajudicial killings said on Friday that governments around the world had rejected the “war on drugs” approach being championed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Speaking at a private policy forum in Manila, Agnès S. Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, did not mention Mr. Duterte by name. But she made it plain that she viewed his policies as dangerously out of step.

Delegates at the United Nations General Assembly special session last year had recognized drug dependency as a “disorder of a chronic and relapsing nature,” Dr. Callamard said. So instead of relying on heavy-handed tactics against users and traffickers, she said, “they called for what amounts to a balanced, multifaceted, multidisciplinary approach, and they placed great emphasis on health, rights and justice.”

Dr. Callamard’s visit to the Philippines came after months of wrangling with the Philippine government to allow her to investigate the more than 4,000 violent deaths — many at the hands of the police or vigilantes — that the authorities have identified as drug-related since Mr. Duterte’s crackdown began 10 months ago.

It also came days before the Philippines was to appear, along with 13 other countries, before the United Nations Human Rights Council for a periodic review of its rights record. Its antidrug campaign was expected to be a focus of the session.

Mr. Duterte has said that the Philippines would allow Dr. Callamard to carry out an official investigation into the killings if she allowed him to publicly question her as well. She has rejected the condition, and she said on Friday that her trip was not in an official capacity.

But Ernesto Abella, a presidential spokesman, said that Manila would lodge a complaint at the United Nations about Dr. Callamard.

“We are aware that Dr. Callamard is currently in the Philippines, and we are disappointed that in not contacting our government in advance of this visit, she has sent a clear signal that she is not interested in getting an objective perspective on the issues that are the focus of her responsibility,” Mr. Abella said.

Rights groups say the police are behind the thousands of deaths that have been attributed to vigilantes, an assertion denied by Mr. Duterte. Before his election, he had promised to kill 100,000 criminals in his first six months in office and dump so many bodies in Manila Bay that the “fish will grow fat.”

In a speech on Thursday in the southern city of Davao, Mr. Duterte denied having personally killed drug traffickers at any time, even as he admitted issuing threats against them. He said the many deaths could be the handiwork of drug syndicates killing off each other’s men.

But two figures tied to Duterte, a police officer and a professed hit man, have publicly implicated Mr. Duterte in hundreds of killings, and their lawyer has subsequently asked the International Criminal Court, based in The Hague, to prosecute him on charges of mass murder.

In her remarks on Friday, Dr. Callamard did acknowledge that drugs had become a global problem, causing health disorders for 29 million users and weakening the rule of law and governance enough to be identified as a “major threat.”

Those attending the special session last year “repeatedly denounced drug-related corruption, decrying its role in the obstruction of justice, including through intimidation of justice officials,” Dr. Callamard said. “What governments did not commit to last year was the war on drugs approach. Quite the contrary.”

She said that the assembled nations had agreed that such an effort “does not work.” Badly thought-out policies “not only fail to address substantively drug dependency, drug-related criminality and the drug trade, they add more problems,” she said.

Those policies also foster “a regime of impunity, infecting the whole justice sector,” and erode trust in public institutions, Dr. Callamard said, “ultimately leading people to despair.”

Originally published by the NY Times – see link above

NY Times Article – Rosa Parks’ House

Ray McGrath, SFFD captain and longtime volunteer, dies – By Sam Whiting Published 9:37 pm, Friday, April 28, 2017

Ray McGrath, a retired San Francisco Fire Department captain who stayed on as a toy drive volunteer and morale booster, sometimes walking from station to station throughout the city, has died at 95.

Mr. McGrath died Tuesday of injuries suffered in a fall at home while on his way to Mass last Sunday. His death was confirmed by Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, who went directly to San Francisco General Hospital when she heard Mr. McGrath had fallen. Already at his bedside were two nuns, a priest, and a hallway full of family members and old firefighters.

“Ray was a legend. Just a kind, compassionate Catholic man,” Hayes-White said. “He loved this city and knew the name of every street and alley.”

Though Mr. McGrath served the customary 30 years in the department, from 1947 to 1977, he was involved for another 40 years. Among the duties he adopted was as minister to injured firefighters and confidant to Hayes-White as she transitioned the department from its old-boy ways to a modern department integrated by race and gender.

In his retirement, Mr. McGrath walked 18 to 20 miles a day from his home in Daly City, up the coast, around to North Beach and back. When standing still, he worked in programs to feed and clothe the poor and in social justice causes. He was active in church sanctuary movements and even got himself arrested in Georgia, where he’d gone to defend the rights of refugees.

“He was always protesting something,” said his daughter Geraldine McGrath, a corporate attorney in San Francisco.

Raymond Stephen McGrath was born Sept. 2, 1921, in his parents’ home at 1515 Palou Ave., in the Bayview district, which was then known as Butchertown, with cattle running up Third Street to the slaughterhouses. It was a mix of Irish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Maltese, and everybody had a nickname. His was “Jiggy,” the sixth of eight kids raised in a home with one bedroom, a parlor room for Mr. McGrath’s two sisters, and a back porch where the six boys slept.

“He used to say, ‘It was cold enough to hang meat back there,” Geraldine said. But it was the Great Depression and the McGrath family had no meat to hang. Mr. McGrath and his older brother Joe were sent to wait in the food lines captured by photographer Dorothea Lange.

“These were the things he remembered when he was serving the poor,” Geraldine said.

Three of his older brothers, Joe, Art and John, had been star football players at Sacred Heart High School, but Mr. McGrath was too small to play sports. He never liked academics and intentionally flunked out of Sacred Heart as a sophomore.

He was forcibly returned to Mission High School, from which he graduated in 1939 and became a steamfitter.

With the onset of World War II, Mr. McGrath joined the U.S. Navy and served in the Pacific theater. While away at war, he sent a photo of himself in his Navy uniform to his friend Lorraine Kerrigan, who lived one block away. Her younger sister, Barbara, known as Bobbie, saw the picture and pledged to marry him, which she did, in 1948 at All Hallows, their childhood parish.

By then, Mr. McGrath had joined the Fire Department. His file lists him as 5 feet 9 and 160 pounds, but that may have been generous. When he strove to advance from fireman to truckman, he was too short for the 5-foot-9 minimum height.

To reach it, Mr. McGrath would lie on the floor at night while his daughter held his arms and his wife pulled on his legs, to stretch him. In combination with lifts in his socks, it worked well enough for him to qualify.

Back then, firefighters traditionally stayed in one station their entire career, but Mr. McGrath transferred around, always looking for the station with the most action.

“He was a great storyteller and loved history,” Hayes-White said. “The city was literally burning in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s.”

In the mid-1960s, Mr. McGrath moved his wife and three daughters from the Bayview to a split-level ranch house in the Westlake district of Daly City.

Bobbie McGrath died in 1987 and was buried in Colma. Mr. McGrath later learned that there was space available for the two of them in the San Francisco National Cemetery in the Presidio, so he had his wife disinterred and moved to a plot near the flagpole with a view of the Golden Gate.

Once she was moved, Mr. McGrath would walk from home to visit his wife’s grave, often in the company of Al McCarthy, another retired firefighter. They’d follow the shoreline all the way around to the fireboat station.

According to Hayes-White, he liked to quiz firefighters on their knowledge of the streets, and he liked to visit firefighters injured in the line of duty.

One such firefighter is Melanie Stapper, who suffered major burns and lost most of her vision in a fatal Diamond Heights home fire in 1995. Already 20 years retired, Mr. McGrath had never met Stapper. But he took it upon himself to visit her at the hospital every day and sit at her bedside.

“He was truly here when others weren’t,” Stapper said. Once she was released from the hospital, Mr. McCarthy would regularly drive up to visit her at her home near the Russian River.

“She was a fallen comrade,” Geraldine said. “He was loyal to the Fire Department until the day he died.”

Survivors include daughters Geraldine McGrath of Hayward, Nancy Klein of Montara, and Deborah McGrath of Oakland, six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

A visitation and rosary will begin at 5 p.m. Friday at St. Teresa of Avila. A Fire Department color guard, honor guard and engine will attend his funeral Mass at 10 a.m. Saturday, all at St. Teresa, 1490 19th St., San Francisco. Donations in his name may be made to the St. Vincent de Paul Society at St. Teresa of Avila.

Sam Whiting is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @SamWhitingSF Instagram: @sfchronicle_art


Sir Richard Branson on Climate Change

Regardless of our political views, I think we can all agree that it is in humanity’s best interest to take care of the planet and ensure it is in a better place for the next generation. Sir Richard Branson provides some interesting perspective.

Everyday Heroes

In reading this article, I’m reminded of the power that we all have to make a difference in someone’s life. If we all tried a littler harder and made an incremental impact on one more person then just imagine the collateral beauty that can come out from such an effort at a grand scale. It is probably true that very few human beings can individually change the world (for better or worse) but collectively we can create a butterfly effect that drastically improve the world we live in.


Ivanka Trump on Syria

I for one hope that we can find some common ground in securing the boarder and helping our fellow humans in need. Prioritizing one effort should not preclude our ability to address the other.

NY Times Article – Rwandans Carry On


Washington Post Article – Refugees

Washington Post Article – Refugees

The article in the April 25th Washington Post provides further clarity with respect to the suffering that refugees all over the world are facing. Putting politics aside, human beings die everyday as they runway from their nightmare in hopes of reaching their dreams.

Washington Post Article – Children in Yemen

The article published by the Washington Post reminds us all of the importance of helping others and give to others, even when we think we cannot afford it.

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