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Small Pockets, Big Hearts: Making a Difference a Dollar at a Time

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On a Native American reservation in South Dakota, the director of a not for profit clinic, the Porcupine Clinic, dips into her own pockets to buy propane for this one of a kind health clinic. In Mississippi, a teacher in the lowest rated school in the nation donates an elderly grandmother a clothes dryer so her grandson can stop wearing wet clothing to school. In India, a retired teacher donates his entire pension to students.

"Poor students need special attention. The country can develop only when the both poor and rich are educated. Only educated people can contribute towards the development of a nation," 64-year-old Ram Kishore Sahu said. (
That is as true in the United States as it is in India. In fact, all over the world, schools and health clinics have been instrumental in lifting families and villages out of poverty. Good health and education are essential to raising poor people out of poverty and giving them the educational skills and the physical health to be productive, self-reliant citizens.

It takes a quiet kind of dedication to get the job done, however. But the rewards are well worth the effort over the long haul. One teacher, a single individual who sees a need and fulfills that need is a ruby beyond price. Such educators are precious and we can not over-estimate the worth of those who are willing to give their time, and sometimes money, to ensure that their students have the proper tools to learn.

An Australian study found that good teachers make all the difference in the world. In quantifying the value of good teachers, the study found that: “School students who have good teachers take half as long to learn their course material as those with poor teachers.

(A good teacher with an open heart, working in our impoverished schools is worth his or her weight in gold. Such an educator is inspiring and, in some cases, may be the very lifeline his or her students need to keep from being spiritually suffocated by the grinding poverty which surrounds them.

The problem with many of us is that we have a hard time understanding the depth of poverty and hopelessness that exists right here in the United States, let alone in other parts of the world. Imagine, if you will, a county where only one per cent of the area’s white kids attend the county’s public schools. Think, if you will, about a quiet kind of desperation housed inside paint peeled walls and worn linoleum floors of the mostly black public schools.

Imagine a public school, where 99 per cent of the kids are black, and the school is falling down around the ears of the students and teachers. Imagine a student body of desperately poor children, most of whom live with their families in decrepit mobile homes, which were on their last legs a generation ago.



In terms of the power of education in the rural south, in many small southern towns, blacks still struggle with the side effects of backward educational systems and the residuals of white supremacy. Even now, many do not have the education, social skills, or connections to confront local governments and power brokers when it comes to land theft, wrongful arrest, and illegal terminations.

Substandard schools and watered down education have always been tools of oppression, even today. Many education historians continue to wrestle with what education has accomplished in the South, but they fully understood that:

Southern whites accurately viewed education for blacks as a means of eventually upsetting white supremacy, and therefore resisted northern efforts at educational reform, even when couched in the terms of industrial education, or educating blacks to remain in their place. ( Book review: Eric A. Anderson and Alfred A. Moss, Jr. Dangerous Donations: Northern Philanthropy and Southern Black Education, 1902-1930.)

Around the nation, in this so-called land of plenty, the wretched poverty in this country continues to strangle the spirit out of millions of Americans. It stretches from the Native American reservations, to the Black Belt in the South and the Rust Belt in the Midwest, back to the hell grounds of the largest urban centers in the nation. Nationwide, tens of thousands of volunteers provide countless points of light in poverty’s despairing depths, and those angels deserve our blessing and support, but their work is far from done.

The Porcupine Clinic on the Pine Ridge Reservation is the only Native American operated clinic in the United States. It relies completely on donations in order to operate, but it can not continue its mission if it has no fuel to heat the clinic.

Donations may also be sent directly to the Porcupine Clinic. For more information, please contact:
Porcupine Clinic
Stella White Eyes, Administrative Assistant
P.O. Box 99 – Porcupine, SD 57772
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Land, Legacy and Lynching: Building the Future for Black America

Urban Asylum: Politics, Lunatics and the Refrigerator (more...)
 

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