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Archive for the ‘Teen pregnancy’ Category

ABC NEWS Has Come Through For Pine Ridge

Over a year ago, I was contacted by a researcher/producer for ABC News.  She had found one of my blog entries (in which I was chastising ABC for not paying attention to the disasters in the west, especially on the reservations).  She told me they were working on a Diane Sawyer prime time special in her “A Hidden America” series.  The prior one had been on life in Appalachia.  This time they were planning to profile Pine Ridge Reservation.

Those of you who have been reading my blog will know that there is not much that fires up my hopefully righteous passion more than talking about life on Pine Ridge Reservation.  So talk we did, for almost an hour.  And we emailed – resources that they might find helpful.

I had heard that Diane Sawyer was out on the rez this past summer when I was there (no, we didn’t happen to cross paths traveling the approximately 2 million acres on the rez.  But I did here that she went up to KILI Radio one of the days I was there.  Try to keep that quiet when you’re talking to DJ’s.

I am giving you a link to the promo for the show.  Please, if you have ever enjoyed or been moved by anything I have written, I implore you to watch the 20/20 program on Friday at 10 PM.  See with your own eyes the good and the bad of Pine Ridge.  You may not find it possible but this place does exist.  I have been there and I suspect they will not tell you the worst story nor show you the poorest homes.  But it will still be worse than you expect.  After all, the living conditions on Pine Ridge rival those in Haiti and the life expectancy on Pine Ridge rivals that of Burundi.

I work for an organization that works to support self-sufficiency – not an easy thing to have on Pine Ridge.  Many of us work to keep the dam from breaking by trying to improve the life of one person at a time.  The big picture can be truly overwhelming.

If you can’t watch the show when it airs, record it or have a friend record it for you.

I will be honest.  I prayed for someone with greater reach than mine to focus attention on the needs of Pine Ridge.  I did not know (or care) who it would be.  I am grateful to ABC News because I know that if more people see the conditions, they will be moved to respond.  I believe in the American people and I know in my heart that things can improve.  I do not have the answers but I know it can be done.

Thank YOU for helping them to raise awareness.  You can do that by sharing this blog post with everyone you know.

Oh yes, here’s the link to the promo:  http://abcnews.go.com/2020/video/hidden-america-children-plains-14708439#.TpOhj9LOE2E.facebook

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I haven’t posted about Pine Ridge for a bit because I wanted to give you a break from the heart wrenching stories.  Okay, that’s not true.  I needed a break from writing about them!  It is hard enough to hear them first hand.  When I write them, I relive them so I can get the pain and hurt across to you.  Sometimes it becomes too heavy and I need a break.

But I recently heard a story that I knew had to be told.

A 15 year old girl was living with her grandfather in the northern part of the reservation so that she could attend high school in Rapid City.  She wanted a good education, I assume.  While she was in Rapid City, she was raped.  Rape is enough for a 15 year old to cope with – this girl also became pregnant as a result of the rape.

The Lakota hold children as sacred, so her grandfather persuaded the girl not to get an abortion.  (This is NOT a discussion on abortion vs pro-life; PLEASE do not make any comments to that topic – they will be deleted.)  So now this young lady has an infant son.

She has moved out of the area she was living in with her grandfather and moved back to her mother’s house, which is in an area I serve.  She is attending “virtual” high school so she can care for her baby and still keep up with her education.  I hope and pray that she will be able to do both.

I will be looking for a sponsor for the young woman and her infant son.  I will probably be adding other children from her mother’s home who will also need sponsors.

I am trying to understand all that this young girl must be feeling so that I can make an appropriate match with a sponsor for her.  I have some memories of what it is like to be a teenager.  I know the statistics that 2 of 3 Native American women will suffer sexual assault in their lifetimes.  Does that mean I will have support?  Or does it mean I will be expected to accept what happened, love my son and move on?

Did I want to go to college?  Am I now looking at my hope for a better future being torn away?  Will my son grow up with the same experiences of hunger, cold, lack of things that I did?  Will he have any hope?  Will I be able to give him any hope if I don’t have any  for myself?

In urban and suburban areas, teens like this young girl might have a support group with others in the same situation.  On the rez, distances are too great to gather girls for this kind of thing on a regular basis.

I don’t think I’ve managed to scrape the surface of this young woman’s feelings.  I apologize for that.  I think there are a few things that are difficult to write about if you haven’t experienced them and perhaps this is one of them.

But I certainly will work to find this girl a good sponsor for herself and her son.

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