Dr. Lazarus: Giving Light To The World

The poor will always be with us--without access to health care, with no permanent address.  Often times the poor are working people who have developed poor health conditions, leaving them unable to work.  

Extreme poverty in the United States is growing. (World Hunger)

Extreme poverty means living on less than $2.00 a day without adequate housing, food, or medical care. In some areas of the country extreme poverty hits one of every 25 families.

Florida has the third largest incidence of homelessness in the United States.

Many of the Sunshine state’s homeless take refuge in a tent in the woods.  It’s a dangerous and difficult situation to get out of, unless help is offered.

Dr. Jeff Lazarus with a patient he helped in Nicaragua

Dr. Jeff Lazarus with a patient he helped in Nicaragua

Dr. Jeff Lazarus, a Port St. Lucie orthopaedic surgeon is a physician volunteer with Light of the World Charities.  Their mission is to deliver quality health care to the world’s poor.  Dr. Lazarus performs necessary surgeries without charge to truly homeless Americans in Martin County.   He has seen patients go back to work and move out of their tents after their health is restored.

Light of the World Charities has a local dental program in Palm City for indigent, uninsured and working poor adults as well.

Light of the World Charities was founded by the late Reverend Bernard Powell and Mrs. Theresa Banks, RN of Holy Redeemer Church in Palm City.  The church has sponsored medical and surgery teams to help local citizens and the poor abroad.  Each year, a team goes to Central America, Africa or Haiti, providing repair of hernias, cleft palates, and surgeries on lips, eyes, and limbs. Urological, gynecological, and arthroscopic procedures are also performed.  Necessary dental care is included.

The charity has drawn more than 400 volunteers from around the United States to help the needy.

Dr. Lazarus, of Treasure Coast Orthopaedic, has taken three trips with the charity to Central America to help fix ankles, knees, and elbows. He has always wanted to be a doctor; growing up, he enjoyed working with his hands using drills, hammers, plates and screws.  He uses these tools in his practice at home, seeing many patients for knee and shoulder arthroscopy and knee, shoulder or hip replacements.  The technology he uses is brand new, but in Central America, the equipment isn’t the most modern technology.  Using his surgical training from the 1970s and 80s, Dr. Lazarus must be creative and will create tissue grafts out of little.

Dr. Lazarus states, “Medical services in other countries, specifically Central America, are not at the level of the United States.  Sometimes the poor must walk many miles to a doctor or hospital.  The injury or illness can leave the patient unable to work or living life as a pariah, an unwanted person.”

The need to help the extreme poor is immediate, whether at home or abroad.  Medical professionals like Dr. Jeff Lazarus provide compassionate treatment both in the United States and abroad.  They give sacrificially of their time and money.  Dr. Lazarus mulls over each case to determine how to get the best result for each patient.  These trips are sometimes dangerous, depending on the country; guards with machine guns may accompany the volunteers.

Light of the World Charities needs to be supported locally as it has chosen to help those at home as well as those in poorer countries.  Poverty and suffering are growing.  The poor will not go away, but need help.  Support Light of the World Charities as they continue to be a source of hope to the truly poor.

HAVE A HERO TIP? Send your Hometown Hero tip to Kelly Jadon:  kfjadon@gmail.com

© 2016 "Hometown Heroes" Kelly Jadon


Pakistani Education Affects American Security

Pakistan is a Muslim nation in Asia, sandwiched between India and Afghanistan.  China, Iran and the Arabian Sea touch Pakistan’s outer edges.  More than 199 million people live in Pakistan.  Islam is the country’s official religion—96.4 percent are Muslims; Hindus and Christians are about 3.6 percent. (CIA)

Pakistan’s schools are run by the government, but they are not free.  These schools only exist in city areas.  Many remote villages have “ghost” schools, which are empty buildings with no teacher.  Teachers are paid, but there is no accountability, and therefore, no teacher attendance.

Pakistan spends little on its educational system, only 2.5 percent of its gross domestic product (CIA, 2013), leaving more than 24 million children unschooled. (AFP) This is the second highest rate in the world after Nigeria.  In contrast, the United States spent 5.2 percent of its gross domestic product on education in 2011. (CIA)

Only 57.9 percent of Pakistan’s people can read. (CIA)

Why should this matter to America?

What happens in Pakistan affects American security.

Robin and Mike Gordon

Robin and Mike Gordon

Mike Gordon of Shining Light International developed an entire school system in the Gilgit area of northern Pakistan.  He states, “One of the necessary components of securing our borders and combating terrorism is to educate the poorest, most oppressed people.  This prevents radical Islam.”

Mike Gordon and his wife, Robin, a school principal, set out in 2001 to help the oppressed, migrant Christian population living in Gilgit and surrounding areas.  This group is under threat of persecution and has been completely illiterate, until now.  Today, these children are grown, in college, and are the first generation of migrant Pakistani Christians to read their Bible.  Some intend to return to Shining Light schools as teachers themselves.  Others will go on to enter government, the military, or another area of employment. 

More Shining Light schools have opened, enabling other poor minority groups to attend.  One such group is the Gujjars, an Islamic semi-nomadic people close to the border of Afghanistan. They live on the fringes of society—without running water, health-care or education.  A very high percentage of the Gujjars in Gilgit-Baltistan are illiterate.  

They could easily be radicalized by radical Islam. Shining Light now educates 600 Gujjar children from three villages and expects to enter two more villages by the end of the year. 

Shining Light employs 60 people, 50 of which are teachers, some (8) who live and work in remote areas. The organization, a non-profit 501c3, provides scholarships to the needy, even for those who go on to university.

Shining Light education is taught in English and is conceptual.  Robin Gordon’s expertise has provided necessary materials, making the school highly-valued.  In contrast, education in Pakistani government schools is taught by rote (repetition).  Western education encourages students to think, write, and understand concepts.  Rote education is simply memorization and regurgitation.

Islam, by law, is taught in Pakistani schools, whether government or private.  Christian students may opt-out with an ethics class or other appropriate elective.

Poor students without access to government schools or a program like Shining Light, attend the madrassas.  These are Islamic religious schools which teach the Koran using rote memorization.  The Koran is written and spoken in its original Arabic language, but the primary languages of Pakistan are Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Saraiki and Urdu (official).  Students rely on Islamic teaching for understanding of the Koran, but there is also no regulation of the madrassas and what is being taught.

A madrassa education is free and is the primary form of education in Pakistan.  They are in every Sunni Islam village and the cities in Pakistan. 3.5 million children attend more than 20,000 madrassas.

Mike Gordon adds, “This kind of teaching, rote memorization, has infiltrated the government education system.”

Tashfeen Malik, the female shooter in the San Bernardino massacre, attended the Al-Huda Institute, a madrassa in Pakistan. 

There is growing evidence that these Pakistani madrassas are recruitment centers for Islamic radicalization from the poorer and middle classes.  There is also evidence that many of the madrassas are funded by Saudi Arabia.

Madrassas in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan created the jihadists in the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Today the jihadists are joining the Islamic Caliphate, also known as ISIS.

Madrassas are associated with local mosques, an Islamic place of worship.  There are 3186 mosques in the United States (Saltomatic) and there are several Islamic schools or madrassas, as well. “80 percent of the 1,200 mosques operating in the US were constructed after 2001, more often than not with Saudi financing." (World Affairs)

Pakistanis and other Islamic nationals are attempting to cross United States’ borders illegally, as in the case of Javaid Muhammad (May 17, 2016) and legally as did Tashfeen Malik on a fiancée visa.

To begin to keep America safe, the gaps must be filled.  Those who support radicalization cut off, and organizations like Shining Light International, supported.

HAVE A HERO TIP? Send your Hometown Hero tip to Kelly Jadon:  kfjadon@gmail.com

© 2016 "Hometown Heroes" Kelly Jadon