Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Somewhere out there...

When I was little, one of my favorite movies animated movies was "An American Tail." In it, a young Russian mouse, Fievel Mousekewitz, gets separated from his family after emigrating to America and must find them again while navigating a brand-new country. I have no idea why this resonated with me so much; I've never emigrated and at that point in my life I'd barely left the state much less the US.

Judging by my current inability to watch "Ratatouille," I clearly hadn't yet developed my aversion to mice, so that must have piled on to the sympathy I felt for poor little Fievel. Regardless, when I saw the following two news stories, the signature song from the movie "Somewhere Out There," immediately began playing in my head.

Scripps News posted a story today on the 53 Haitian orphans who flew to Pittsburgh to finish up the adoption process. All but seven of the children aged up to 12 years old were nearing completion of their adoptions when the earthquake hit and leveled their orphanage. Jamie and Ali McMurtrie, sisters from Pennsylvania, ran the BRESMA orphanage in Port-au-Prince.

Their messages home spurred the state and national government to action. Governor Ed Rendell himself flew to Haiti with a medical team to bring the children to the UPitt Medical Center. The children cleared diplomatic and bureaucratic red tape just in time to use their time slot on the runway and take off for their new homes in the US, Canada, and Spain. They appear to be big fans of chicken fingers but not so much of snow.

A lot of families do emigrate to other countries as a whole unit, like Fievel. Somali families have fled their home country for years, leaving behind war, famine and poverty. According to the Boston Globe, 5000 Somalis and Somali-Americans have settled in Lynn, Mass., so the state government has built a Parent-Child Home Program, in which visitors come into the immigrants' homes and teach them skills to assimilate into their new society. One key, and often overlooked, component to the program is teaching the parents and children how to play. For various reasons back in Somalia, parents simply didn't convey this basic skill to their children. The Parent-Child Home Program helps family read and play so their children become school-ready.

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