I traveled the country to discuss family law reform

(Me at the congress building in DC- June 10th, 2018)-

On June 8th, 2018, my 31st birthday was fast approaching on June 10th. I decided that I needed to do something of epic proportions to celebrate this new stage of life. About 10 months ago, I published a report given to the United Nations titled, “Global Human Trafficking in the Family Law Courts”.  The UN didn’t give much attention to it, probably because it discussed issues uniquely affecting men instead of the plight of women, nevertheless, Amnesty International  in New York City reached out to me via -email about a week ago, wanting to meet up.

I have a huge fear of traveling alone, so this proved to be the perfect motivator for me to conquer two birds with one stone. I took a bus to DC, then a train to NYC, then a train back to DC, then finally an airplane flight back to Nashville,TN. I learned alot about myself on this journey.  Even though my main objective was to reach Amnesty International in New York, I spent most of my “getaway” in D.C., as I had a friend who lived there who offered to host me.  During my time in D.C., I made my way to the House of Representatives. For two days, I lobbied to them about family law reform.

A few weeks ago, Kentucky was the first state to pass a default 50/50 custody bill. A presumptive bill that would automatically grant fathers joint custody with minimal child support, so long as he didn’t have a criminal background. This is huge considering that the average man will spend 5-30K in court begging for equal rights. While I recognize the plight of women’s rights activists, the male gender faces its own unique set of challenges.

For two days, I visited more than 30 congressmen/women and their staff to discuss family law reform. I handed out copies of my report, business cards, and even stopped by the offices of Kentucky Congressman, Andy Barr, to  thank him and his state for being a leader in family law reform.  I visited congressmen in Texas, California, Rhode Island, New York, Tennessee, Maryland, you name it!

Most of the reception I got was very “lukewarm”.  Family law is simply something that isn’t discussed very much by federal politicians. Divorce, child support, alimony, custody,— these words bring falsely negative connotations associated with failure, infidelity, blackmail, and scandal. It is a topic that many politicians simply do not want to touch out of fear of backlash from feminist groups. While there are some women who are affected by the family law courts, men tend to bear the brunt of unfairness within these systems. To speak out against the family law courts will often garnish you a label of being a misogynist or an “MRA”. (Men’s Rights Activist). For some reason, society thinks its perfectly fine for a mother to have an abortion or give up her unwanted child for adoption, however, men who don’t want to be dads are called “deadbeats”, and the ones who do want to be dads have to spend a small fortune on legal fees to get basic custody rights while still paying child support on top of it.

As many of you know, I am a champion of foreign policy reform, tax reform, civil liberties, and plethora of other civil liberties issues. In fact, I submitted a report to the ACLU regarding civil asset forfeiture. Family law reform isn’t the only thing I care about, but it is very high on the list.

During my meetings with various congressmen, I was mainly left with statements such as, “I’ll look into this.”. However, I did get very good responses from congressmen in Maryland, Texas, and Georgia.  Maryland is one of the few states who has tough laws against leaving your children in a car unattended. Maryland claims to be a very “children concentric state”,  thus, I wasn’t too surprised that their offices actually gave me the time of day.

Tom Reed of New York wasn’t in his office, however, his staff associates were very nice to me and gladly took down my info and a copy of my report. I cannot say the same about some of the other offices that I visited who gave me such a cold welcome, almost as if they couldn’t physically see me standing in front of them.

I tried to visit my own congressman from TN for two days straight, congressman  Jim Cooper, however, he was away both times. He and I have had several run-ins back in Nashville, so I’m not sure how happy he would be to see me again, as I have already spoken with him about this issue several times.

(Me outside of Rep.Cooper’s office in DC.) 

While in D.C., I learned and recognized many things. The people in this city are highly educated on political matters, even the lowly beggars have a basic understanding of how bills are passed and the roles lobbyists play.  Protesting and demonstration occurred at the Congress and white house daily.  While attending a seminar at the Supreme court, I passed the congress building and noticed a group of ethnic Uyghurs, chanting and begging for the United States government to use their military might to save their people from the clutches of Chinese control.

Many libertarian and liberally minded people often shy away from interventionism as it causes much blow-back for our national security,  however, this demonstration made me rethink the US’s role in foreign policy. Perhaps our presence isn’t always shunned but actually welcomed in some places.  I suppose there are always two sides to every story.

As I left the congress building, I managed to get a peak at President Trump coming in from his trip at the Korean Peace Talk summit in  Singapore. The Secret service was in full effect with their rifles, clearing the streets of any nearby pedestrians including myself.

“Stand back! Make way!” – Secret Service agents

Later that day, I visited the white house and came across an interesting man who went by the name, “Felipe”.  He had an encampment set up across the street from the white-house. He had been in that camp protesting war, advocating for gun control, and attacks on civil liberties since 1982! That’s right! This man has not left his protest encampment since 1982! Talk about commitment! I engaged in an hour long debate with the man who sat disabled in his wheelchair. He had several degrees in political science, sociology, and psychology. While I didn’t agree with him on many points, I respected his diligence, and we both managed to agree that things like family law reform, and laws like the NDAA and the Patriot Act are bad for Americans in regards to personal liberty.

According to his testimony, there is a current law in place that says that no one is allowed to be encamped within so many yards of the white house, however, since the man had been in this place since 1982, (before such laws existed), he had essentially be “grandfathered” in, and is legally allowed to stay encamped in front of the white house so long as the camp remains occupied 24/7. Felipe is there most of the time, but has his father stand in his place when he needs to go away or take breaks.  Felipe garnished much respect from fellow congressmen, as two actually approached him and gave him a “fist bump” of acknowledgment.

   

(Felipe camped out in front of the White House, no civilians is allowed to pass the police line or else they could face imprisonment– even Felipe isn’t exempt from this law)

My next stop was the Library of Congress.  The world’s largest collection of books in the world.  Photographs aren’t allowed to be taken of the actual books, however, when I say that the collection was impressive, it is an understatement! The library consists of three large buildings which contain entire departments dedicated to a single subject. Do you enjoy Chinese history? Well, there is an entire floor dedicated to just that single topic! Do you enjoy mechanical engineering? There is an entire room dedicated to just that subject. The amount of information in those buildings is completely awe-inspiring. I constantly found myself speaking in a silent whisper, “This is incredible!”. , “Wow!”.

I visited the copyright office in the Library of Congress and met with one of their consultants who guided me on the process of submitting my own publication, “Global Human Trafficking in the Family Law Courts”, into the library of congress.  If my book is accepted, it would forever remain as my contribution to my country, my people, and to the world’s largest library.

 

After my adventures in the Congress, the Supreme Court building, the White House, and the Library of Congress, I accidentally came across an Amnesty International building. I thought to myself, “This could be a great networking opportunity, since I am scheduled to interview with them tomorrow in NYC.”

As I approached the building, there was a small security detail who was only letting badged members get in.  I tried getting in, but I had no formal appointment with the D.C office. However, I was determined to get a copy of my report into as many people’s hands as I could. So, I did what any rational activist would do.  I broke trespassing laws. I waited until the building’s employees returned from their lunch breaks. The wave of workers came hauling into the building using their badges to bypass security. I merely ducked my head-low and piggy backed into the building behind them. Without a badge I was only able to make it to the 3rd floor. Amnesty’s main office was on the 4th floor.

  (At Amnesty International In Washington D.C.)

So, I had to get creative. I found a fire exit with a staircase and managed to get on the 4th floor. However, I ran into another problem. Amnesty had an empty lobby with a single door that only allowed badged members once again. There was no secretary in sight. I called the interviewing office in New York City and told them I was in D.C. instead. This prompted one of their policy research managers to come to the lobby. She speaks out, “Who are you? How can I help you?”

I say, “I am set to meet with Mr.Solis in NYC tomorrow about a management position. ” She laughs and says, “They tell everyone that. Mr. Solis only hires for intern positions that pay 15$ an hour.”  I was a little annoyed to learn this.  So I reply, “Wow! Seriously? Well, I traveled all the way from Nashville,Tn. This is a report I have written regarding Family Law reform. Regardless of any job opportunities, I think you guys should look at this! I am a supporter of women’s rights activism, however, this is an issue of gender equality where the male gender needs some serious support!”.  The policy manager was hesitant to take my packet until I gave her my Nalini-Global business card.

At this point, she realized I was serious. She replies, “I will get this to our research department. This looks very fascinating. But, I’m sorry we can’t interview you here. You aren’t cut out for an internship anyways. Forget the NYC interview with Mr.Solis. I am going to take your report and see what we discuss further.”

I reply, “Thank you so much!”. She replies, ” I don’t know how you got up here. This is a restricted area. But, I admire your moxy! But, you have to go now!”. I reply, “Yes ma’am. And thank you!”.

After leaving Amnesty, I took a rest and headed up to NYC by train. The ride was three hours. On the train, I met many lobbyists and a woman from Italy who was here on vacation. We discussed music and politics for a good hour until the train staff told us to shut as other passengers were trying to sleep.

Upon arrived in NYC at Penn Station, I headed straight to Federal Hall. The birthplace of out government. It was a proud moment. Something that has been on my bucket list since the age of 20.  After getting in NYC, I arrived about an hour late, thus I was shut out of my interview with Amnesty. But, I didn’t care, I wasn’t happy about being lied to about an internship/canvasser position anyways. I needed to make some real money! Regardless, I was still on a mission.  After leaving Federal Hall, I visited “Wall Street”, the financial center of the USA. The power and corruption germinating inside the NYSE was overwhelming just as the city skyline was itself. NYC is not the place to go if you have anxiety or are prone to panic attacks.

35305983_1687486368013566_105976307984105472_o

(Me in New York City in front of Penn Station) 

In NYC, everyone is looking to score something. Sex, drugs, money, a phone number, a free-ride, selling something. ect.. It is a very fast paced city that caters to the rich. My last action in NYC was to visit the UN building. To try and submit my report in person. I was blocked by security and wasn’t about to attempt to go further. This wasn’t amnesty international, this was a multinational governmental organization, I didn’t want to be arrested or killed. So, I took my loss and returned to Penn station the next morning. After all, as a state rep candidate myself back in Nashville, I still have a campaign to run myself!  During the train ride back to D.C, , I saw the poverty in Baltimore and in parts of New Jersey. It was a sad site. Like a third world country in some respects. Upon arriving in D.C., I stayed at a friend’s house and took a flight back to Nashville the next morning.

While this narrative is a summarized version of my experiences during this birthday diplomatic mission, it sums up my passion quite well. If this blog post were to be used in a job interview, it would demonstrate my passion to a high level unparalleled to any college degree one may possess, as anyone can remember facts and details in order to obtain a degree, but few can put their very lives on the line for a cause they believe in.

I don’t know how effective my actions were in this trip. Perhaps I wasted my time and money. Perhaps I am a fool for thinking that such a man from a lowly background of lower-middle class parents can actually make a difference in such a powerful city like D.C. or NYC. But, then again, I thought that same thing two years ago when I successfully fought to get a corrupt politician fired, county clerk, John Arriola. in Nashville TN.

Regardless of the outcome, the trip changed my life. It made me proud to be an America. It gave me a connection to this land unlike I had before. For all of it’s ugliness, I saw a certain amount of beauty in the process of politics and government. I did see remedies and potential in solving certain problems in an ever changing world. It gave me a sense of strength and confidence I never knew I had.

I do not know where my journey will take me next, as I will be ending the lease on my apartment in two weeks, however, wherever I end up next, you can take your money to the casinos and safely bet that my next chapter will be anything but boring!

To life. To liberty. And to the pursuit of a meaningful life.

-Randell Daryl Stroud

2018

Support Natural Medicine by clicking here!

Samantha Power lectures at Vanderbilt

Samantha Power, Former UN Ambassador, was in Nashville last night to offer insights into her career. A former critic of the US government turned insider, who once rallied against US foreign policy who is now in great favor of American exceptionalism. Her career was quite fascinating, whereas she offered many inspiring words of making the best out of your life.

Throughout the speech, I noticed that she discussed China quite a bit. Weary of the fact that China was now the largest consumer of concrete in the world showcasing China’s economic growth while the US has steadily been shifting back its involvement into international affairs via the Trump administration.

Mrs. Power preached the idea that the US is the only country qualified to take the horns of world leadership in reference to protecting human rights. She cited many statistics displaying how the US has supported human rights in areas of accepting refugees, LGBTs people, and “humanitarian war” efforts.

While she did make some strong arguments, I do feel that she left out some key points. Namely, the UN, which was largely created by the United States, issues human rights reports on other member states, whereas no other member states issue human rights reports on American abuses, —Except for China. China is the only country brave enough to issue a human rights report on the Americans. China points out that the United States has record breaking gun-violence statistics, crippling povery, expensive health-care, police brutality, NSA spy programs, and it even mentions the Flint,Michigan water crisis and the lack of response by the US government.

Senator John Kerry stated, “Anyone who reads that report is unpatriotic”.  Chinese officials accuse the American government of “The pot calling the kettle black.”

While I do believe that the United States has a much better reputation at protecting human rights than China, I do applaud China for having the courage to hold our government to  the same standards.  Currently, the UN  security council consists of the United States, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and China. The United States is privileged to veto power that the other permanent security council members do not have.

It was an interesting speech given by Mrs.Power. Her tenure reminded me of my own journey. I was once a very staunch critic of my government, however, after spending some time working inside the courts and dealing with local politicians, I realized that the American system did have some unique beauties to it that other nations do not have. Yet, it is important to maintain a certain level of “devil’s advocacy” in order to stick to the principles of truth.

When we remove our allegiances to man-made flags and religions, the truth that we are all inhabitants of this celestial orb known as “Earth”, becomes ever so apparent.

 

Thank you Mrs. Power for visiting the Langford Auditorium here in Nashville. Your personal stories of struggles, success, and occasional moments of humor, certainly gave everyone a new perspective on their own personal development.

 

What do you guys think? Does the USA have too strong an influence in the United Nations, or is the USA the only country equipped to handle a leadership role?

 

-Nalini-Global

-2017

RANDELL STROUD

Tennessee Civil Asset Forfeiture Challenged by Nalini-Global

On 10/17/2017 , the Metro Nashville Council, held a meeting on resolution RS2017-920- Shared Equitable Program 

This bill proposed that assets seized during police activities that are to later be sold would be divided up between local police departments and the federal DEA.  On the surface, it would appear that this bill is simply creating a working relationship between the local police and the DEA in order to help rid our communities of illegal drug peddling.

However, anyone who is educated on the activities of the DEA, who frequently engage in unconstitutional marijuana raids in states that have legalized the plant and are also known to engage in shady business practices such as entrapment operations. The pink elephant is not the collusion between state and federal governments, but rather the act of civil asset forfeiture, the practice of taking the property of merely “suspected” criminals, whereas those items are later sold at-profit in benefit of the government.

While I don’t support drug use, I do believe the issue should be treated medically, not criminally, and furthermore, the government should not be a beneficiary to such activities . To deem something “illegal”, and then to profit from such illegal activities seems to be more patronizing than benevolent.

The bill was ultimately deffered to be re-voted upon at a later date.  A small victory, albeit for how long can we curb these practices in Tennessee and elsewhere?

Read my statement to the Metro Council here:  (Click here)

  • Nalini-Global 2017

Gentrification is a losing battle: “Read Niccolo Machiavelli”

Oct/3/2017;

As I approached the 6th district courthouse in Nashville,Tn,  on Oct.3rd, 2017, around 6pm, there was a group of Native Americans protesting outside the building, chanting,

“Columbus Day is Murder Day. Today is Indigenous People’s Day!”

A local Native American, Albert Bender, lead the group. We briefly spoke about the DCS and CPS epidemic of kidnapping native children from reservations, displacing them in white homes, thus, erasing their culture.  After a few minutes of chit-chat, we went inside the court building in an attempt to attend the Councilman’s chambers for their General Assembly Hearings. Mr.Bender wanted to adopt a resolution on the agenda to change, “Columbus Day” to formally be known as, “Indigenous Peoples’ Day”.  He was barred from entry alongside his large group of followers.

The GA was mainly focusing on gentrification issues and building permits. For years, many  wealthy New Yorkers and Californians have been moving to Nashville.  Development has been booming! Businesses, restaurants, apartment skyrises,— all popping up like a virus! Multiplying by the day.

In many respects, this development has been amazing for the city. However, many of the locals are aggravated by the development due to increased traffic and rising costs of living from property tax hikes caused by development. Many activists charged the councilmen, stating that the economy was bad, they needed jobs, but also feared that development and rising costs were forcing them out of their homes. Their once affordable apartments were now un-affordable. Many locals were being forced to move to surrounding areas like Antioch and Murfreesboro. Places that were less populated and had higher rates of poverty and crime.

Growing up on the east side of Nashville, my heart really went out for those people. Many of the housing projects had been bulldozed, and dozens of families were displaced and forced to move to more affordable areas. Many of those families had lived in the area all their lives.  I grew up , lower-middle class, not rich, not struggling, but definitely on a budget!

In my younger years, I would have certainly been on board with the protests. However, after reading Niccolo Machiavelli’s , “The Prince” , running for office in 2012, and having gone through the challenges of adult life, — I had realized it was a fruitless war.

I addressed the GA law-makers, including Vice-Mayor David-Briley, whereas I shamed both protesters and law makers.  I shamed the protesters, who were against the new hotels being built due to “increased traffic”, while they simultaneously cried out that their weren’t enough jobs. I shamed the congress by exposing the fact that, they weren’t really listening, they were just passing bills and merely acting as if the people’s voices mattered. It was nothing more than a “dog and pony show” as I called it.

I reminded my audience that, Nashville looked like New York City 50 years ago. However, with population increases and development, it is a consequence of “political realism”.  If you cannot adapt to development, you will be forced to move out. It sounded harsh (and it was), but it is the reality and will always be the reality. Big business and state interests will always overshadow the plight of the poor and minorities.

It wasn’t what everyone wanted to hear, but it was the truth.

“Politics are fake”,  …… “Adapt or Die.” 

This is my view towards gentrification. And I am no hypocrite! I myself am also being forced out of Nashville due to not being able to afford the rising costs of rent. It is sad, but I cannot argue with political realism. I will pack my bags and see where I can thrive. This is the nature of our human existence.

Most of my activism focuses on reform, realism with a hint of idealism, and communication. However, when it comes to gentrification, there is no way around it. When wealthy individuals invade a small city, they will take it over, and the local government will salivate at the money to be made. The poor will be given transitional housing, and small acts of assistance, only to be slowly phased out. It has always been this way and it always will be. Cities crash and cities boom. Currently, Nashville is booming! If you aren’t a doctor, lawyer, business tycoon, or trust fund kid, then you probably aren’t feeling too confident living in metropolitan Nashville at the moment.

While my speech didn’t offer any “real” solutions, it did cause a silence amongst the crowd coupled with a bit of introspection. My words cut deep. The protesters knew that their plight was futile, and the politicians knew that this entire “hearing” on gentrification was nothing more than a formality.  I even encouraged some of the citizens to move to Missouri at one point in my speech. (I’m sure the councilman leader didn’t like those words!)

I wasn’t expecting to give a speech that day. It was impromptu, and I was little nervous, but I felt that it had to be said, thus, I took to the stand. After my words were completed, I said, “Thank you”, and simply walked off.

You could cut the tension in the room with a knife!

There were looks of disappointment on the faces of the protesters… as if I had revealed that Santa wasn’t real!

There were looks of cynical laughter on the faces of the politicians, as if I had belittled their power based in front of the public or as if I was just a peon.

Regardless, the truth was spoken!

In 20 years, Nashville will become a major city like Chicago or Manhattan, or the boom will stop, Nashville will crash and return to its former small city charm, whereas an influx of the lower-income brackets of society will return to their former homes.

As long as big business and big government remain friends, gentrification is here to stay.

-Randell Stroud

2017

Naliniglobal

From Vietnam to Nashville: Migrant brings awareness to homelessness

SUNDAY OCT 9TH, 2016

When we think of homelessness, images of alcoholism, criminal records, and drug abuse tend to come to mind. However, the causes of homelessness and the factors that keep the homeless from re-entering society are not necessarily interchangeable.  A young woman named, Leah Huynh,26, a migrant from Vietnam who was raised in Tennessee, decided to take it upon herself to understand the plight of the homeless through the lens of her own past struggles.

“Back in Vietnam,  I remember my parents working from dusk till dawn, just to provide a place to stay for us. Often times we had very little to eat, yet my father instilled in me that a little can go a long way, and whatever we had, someone else had less, so we must take it upon ourselves to give and share.” 

Huynh, wanting to be a role-model to her son, had always wanted to give back to the down-trodden and had finally decided to take action! Ms.Huynh reached out to Nalini-Global’s very own, Randell Stroud-Sagara, in order to strategically create an out-reach mission. Sagara himself, having experienced a brief period of homelessness in 2014, due to a series of unfortunate events, was somewhat acquainted with the homeless community through his time spent at the Nashville Rescue mission.

We began our quest at Nashville’s “Tent City”, located in East Nashville, off of a major parkway. The campsite, located adjacent to a railroad system, was fairly well kept. Approximately 15 patrons were held up in the location. Upon entry into the camp, the scene was quiet in the midday. We peaked our heads around for several minutes, noticing tables, laundry lines, and tents scattered inside a bushy yet well groomed forrest that effectively camouflaged their whereabouts from the public.

Eventually a man approached us from his dwelling and nervously asked, “What can I do for you?”. I said, “My name is Randy, I came here the other day and spoke to “Jeff”, we are the one’s who are bringing water.”   He replied, “Oh right! He told me about you!” . Courtesy of Ms.Huynh, over 30 gallons of water was donated to the campsite. While we unloaded the canisters from our car, more camp-dwellers approached us from the bush. A young man and his girlfriend who appeared to be in their early 20’s were the first to do so.

They shared their stories of struggle and explained the cycle of poverty. As one of the dwellers explained to me,

” We are the secret side of America that are routinely forced outta sight. Living as third world refugees in a 1st world country. Most Americans are one paycheck away from being evicted, one car repair from losing their job, one divorce away from losing half your income, one health problem away from going bankrupt, one traffic ticket away from losing your drivers license. With the average rent in Nashville being close to $800 dollars per month, plus electricity, and other costs, including transportation, the advice of “go get a job” isn’t enough. The average entry level job pays between 8-10$ per hour. Good luck trying to keep a damn roof over your head on that! Many of us get so depressed that once we end up on the street, that yes, many of us do turn to alcohol and drugs to ease the pain, and that ends up landing us in jail for petty offenses or we lose our licenses for not being able to afford to pay off a simple traffic ticket. It costs over $80 a month for metro transit. Once we lose our transportation and acquire records, we become slaves to our parole officers that we must pay every month, then employers dont want to hire us, and on top of all of it, many of us who end up on the streets suffer from bad credit, therefore no apartment complex even wants to take us in. I truly feel like those who live in poverty are made into criminals, not the other way around.” 

I asked about the dwellers’ view on the Nashville Rescue mission, and they all tended to have similar views and experiences that I too hold even to this day. The Rescue mission panders to donations, shoos away competitors, and has strict admittance rules into their program. Many who enter the mission become dependent and never make it out. The strict rules make it almost impossible to maintain a work schedule unless you are lucky enough to find a traditional 9-5 job working on the weekdays only.

For these reasons, among many others, the dwellers of the “Tent City” elect to brave the elements for the sake of less restrictions and more flexibility in who they trust. Unlike the Rescue mission, which operates more like a prison, the campsites act as a community, where they make newcomers earn their keep and develop trusting relationships. As one of the dwellers told us,

” Many volunteers and other homeless people come through these parts who seem innocent enough, yet they take advantage of us for media gain or in the case of outsiders who wish to join our camp, seek to take advantage of our kindness by selling the food that we gave to them for free in order to profit off of other homeless people. We really have to police ourselves in this community and help eachother rise out of this situation.” 

Most of the dwellers wanted to remain anonymous and expressed fear of those claiming to want to help them. Due to Governor Bill Haslam’s “anti-camping law”, that was passed back in 2013 as a retaliation against “Occupy Nashville Protestors”, the state has the discretion to arrest anyone they see sleeping on so called, “public property”. Luckily, these particular tent dwellers, have the local railroad company backing their plight through their own land deed on the soil they temporarily call home.

During our initial water drop, we noticed a caravan arrive with two men inside. One of the camp-leaders pulled me aside and said, “There is Steve and Eddie”.  Apparently, they were the founders of “Homestreet  Home Ministries”, a local non-profit that spends its days driving around the city feeding the homeless and mentoring at-risk individuals through lectures and seminars. Steven Young, was once homeless himself he states. Upon meeting us he explains,….

” I was homeless for 3 years. I thought it was only going to last about two months but it turned out to be a more difficult situation than I had imagined”.

20161005_145055

(Eddie Sanchez,Steven Young, Stroud, Leah Huynh at a homeless campsite.)

Things turned around when he met Eddie Sanchez. A passerby who walked past Young on a daily basis. Eventually they formed a friendship, Young worked his way off the streets, and the pair formed their non-profit.  Both men have stark contrasts. Steven, a tall heavier set male, who is has a bear-like grip and a non-nonsense attitude, yet speaks with honor and great passion. Whereas Eddie has long hair, very soft-spoken, and has a razor-sharp focus.  The pair have quite the chemistry!

As myself and Ms.Huynh finished passing out the water, we engaged in a two hour long discussion with the pair alongside the camp dwellers. Young shared my sentiments about the Rescue mission and other so called non-profits in the area who had turned “corporate”, (a slang term meaning that the organizations had become recognized and profitable, thus you saw very little of their presence in the field of out-reach, instead you can find their workers on the phone begging for monetary donations.) Young and Sanchez explained that their organization uses about 95% of their donations to directly aide the homeless, whereas the rest was used to cover gas and website expenses.

Young, the more vocal of the two, gave me his straightforward analysis,

” About 30% of the homeless are committed to getting off the street. The rest have given up and succumbed to addiction or depression. We try to give extra resources to those we feel are putting in the extra work to get off the street, yet, regardless of how you live your life, it is our oath under God to feed anyone who is hungry and cloth anyone who doesn’t have a shirt on their back. Everyone has potential, and we want that 30% number to rise, but it’s going to take some tough love,reforms in the economy and justice system. We don’t sugar-coat anything, and we hold these people accountable. I too was once homeless and understand the pit-falls they face. I am not afraid to show tough love to those we help. And by tough-love, I mean, taking away their beer bottles and giving some heart to heart lectures that they don’t want to hear but need to hear!”  

Some may be shocked to hear a non-profit leader who is also a minister to speak in such blunt terms, but you cannot really argue with his logic. While many organizations coax their donors into pity and victimhood in order to seek larger donations, Young and Sanchez obviously believe in a pragmatic and balanced approach! An approach that is noble and quite refreshing, especially after having worked in the non-profit sector where seeking donations tend to take precedent over actually helping those intended to benefit from said donations.

After sharing stories and making friends with Steven and Eddie, Ms.Huynh organized a fleet of her friends and family on sunday Oct.9th to distribute over 50 boxes of pizza, 13 cases of water bottles, and care packages hand-made by Huynh and her friends, which mainly consisted of hygienic products to the homeless population in Nashville.  I decided to meet Ms.Huynh alongside her friends at “Tent city” to start “Operation Pizza”.  Steven and Eddie later met up with us and agreed to aquaint us with other homeless outposts scattered throughout Davidson county.

20161004_152353

14657440_668044203358812_1562554810716720079_n

What we saw was life-changing and profound. People living alone in tents alongside intricately carved paths in secluded forests,  larger groups living next to river embankments, young people with college degrees sleeping on couches underneath bridges, and the list goes on.  During our journey, as we drove around town with our fleet of cars, passing out supplies, we came across all types. Those who had given up, and those who clearly were working to get out of the situation. One person I came across even had a business-plan written  up and was asking me for advice on how to obtain a business license. He had saved money for lawn-care equipment and a hotdog stand through his work with temp agencies.

14566427_667380950091804_963693408560359204_o

During our journey, we also came across many innovations. One homeless man had an interest in “off the grid” living tactics and managed to build a wind-turbine energy generator and a solar generator that he made himself using spare parts from toys and leftover electronic equipment.  It allowed him to charge his cell-phone, power a small fan, and a radio for entertainment.  He explained the mechanics of how he built it, however, his knowledge was vastly superior to mine on the subject material. I was truly impressed.  The man, who called himself, “Terry”, humorously explains.

” I cant get a job without a phone to answer. And I cant make it to work if I die of a heat-stroke. And I can’t smile without a song to dance to!” 

I also kept hearing the name, “Champ”, being mentioned in the homeless camps that we came across. Apparently he was a bit of a legend. I briefly mentioned my background in boxing, and his name would come up everytime.  “Champ”, was a former state boxing champion who had a promising career in the sport of boxing before he lost his family and ended up on the streets. I asked to arrange a meeting with him, but later learned from another homeless man that he had checked into rehab. I hope to look for him in the future and possibly connect him with the boxing scene in Nashville and allow him to teach some of my students as I myself am a boxing coach. Anyone who has his resume in the sport can surely be an asset to young up and coming fighters. His story and expertise could potentially make him the perfect coach and mentor for other fighters. (Stay tuned for that developing story)

20161009_134806

(Ponce and Stroud: Ponce is a homeless single-father with a heartbreaking tale. )

As our day of outreach came to a close, we shared moments of laughter, encouragement, humbleness, outrage, pity, empathy, and a whole slew of emotions. In fact, we even managed to attract a few hecklers who criticized our efforts stating that we were wasting our time. Nevertheless, as Ms.Huynh put it so eloquently in her own words,

” This isn’t about what they decide to do with the resources we give them. It’s about doing what is right. Standing by those who are going without, and letting society know that we do care. Even if there is only a percentage of homeless who are dedicated to getting off the streets, it doesn’t matter to me. I give because it feels good to give, and I have seen first-hand what it feels like to be hungry. My father instilled this quality of compassion in me. It’s here and I can’t get rid of it, so I’am going to continue my efforts because it feels right! If you have a bed, a roof over your head, and you know where your next meal is coming from, then you’re in a position to help! Because these people don’t have those things. If for nothing else, do it for your karma. Someday, you may find yourself in need of its blessing.”

Re-Painting the Face of Poverty

Over the weekend, Nalini-Global had the opportunity to explore the Nashville Night-Market, a monthly event that takes place in the heart of metro-Nashville. A slew of local vendors and organizations set up shop in an old abandoned warehouse space now used for event spacing popularly known as “The Bridge Below Space” near the Farmers market, which is owned and managed by a kind-hearted man named “AJ Sankari”.

During the event, we met fire-spinners, t-shirt makers, singers, dancers, and a variety of other performers and vendors. However, there was one particular booth that really caught our attention. Nicole Brandt, of “Poverty and The Arts”, a local non-profit organization, had a showcase of handmade jewelry, paintings, and other products. Alas, these were not just any typical flea-market items, these pieces had a story behind them. Each product has a small photo and paragraph attached to the item telling a special story about the artist. The stories were quite shocking and very motivational. (Keep reading!)

20160903_000100-1

20160903_000259

 

“Poverty and the Arts” was started by Nicole Brandt, a graduate of Belmont university, who became curious of the homeless and the reasons behind their situation. As a student on campus, she began to approach the homeless and have real in-depth conversations with them. What she learned from them forever changed her perspective on the homeless. The common stigma of homelesness soon washed away in her eyes.

Many of the homeless that she became friends with had Bachelors degrees, were extremely talented in art, were former business owners, did not have drug problems, and were not criminals of any sort. They were simply people who got caught in a momentum of bad luck.  One particular homeless woman that Ms.Brandt works with is a master painter, artist, and has a Bachelors Degree in internal medicine and is seeking to complete med school once she finds housing. She has bad credit, no family, and cannot find employment that pays enough to sustain her while attending school, thus the streets have been here home for the last two years. The easy response is to say, “Get a job”, yet when we consider that one would have to work over 80 hours per week working minimum wage just to afford housing in the metro nashville area, the situation becomes more complex. And that doesn’t include transportation costs, groceries, electricity, and the very real prospect of being refused housing if your credit score isn’t high enough. Where do these people go then?

20160903_000522

Crushing debt, divorce, job loss, a criminal record, bad credit, lack of family support, low paying jobs, missed child support payments resulting in a loss of drivers license, medical bills, legal issues, car trouble that results in a job loss…..the struggles of daily living and the cost of living may not seem fathomable to those who come from stable families or who have always been blessed with high paying careers, or who have never suffered a set-back, but for many of us, both young and old, poverty is just right around the corner for many Americans. Numerous statistics estimate that nearly half of Americans only make enough to cover their monthly expenses and are one emergency away from being in debt or losing everything.

Mrs.Brandt decided to take action and approached the homeless here in Nashville and specifically sought out those who have artistic ability. Through her organization, she offers workshops in entrepreneurship and assists the homeless in selling their products. And that is exactly what she did at the Night-Market event. She actively sells the products created by the homeless themselves, whereas the homeless artist gets to keep nearly all of the profit gained from the items being sold, with a small percentage being vested back into the nonprofit’s operational expenses.

 

Since the creation of the project back in 2009, most of the homeless that she has worked with have been able to pay their way through school, make enough money to feed themselves, gain artist sponsorship, start businesses and many other positive consequences as a result. Other local Non-profits such as “Open-Table”, (A non profit specializing in affordable housing) has also joined forces with “Poverty and the Arts.” We at “Nalini-Global”,also had the chance to share our message of international unity, human rights, and universal rights with Ms.Brandt. In the future, we hope to offer seminars on legal rights, contract formations, and host boxing seminars for those interested in learning how to become a coach in the sport and/or as a form of physical fitness to benefit their overall well-being.

For those who have no family to turn to, who have fallen on hard times, or continue to suffer due to life circumstances, we have to become more compassionate and offer better solutions than just yelling out , “Get a job.” For many, simply getting a job is not enough to cure their needs. While there are those who are homeless because of the poor choices they made who also have no desire to better their situation, there are just as many if not more, who are simply victims of a marginalized growing sub-culture of people who are being forced to forego an education due to cost or work multiple jobs to barely make ends meet. Many people in their late 20’s and early 30’s are being forced to return home to live with family, have multiple roommates with strangers or even worse, ….attempting to live off credit cards which ultimately lead to crushing debt, all in the face of trying to survive the daily grind.

Governor Bill Haslam has responded to the issue of homelessness by passing a “no camping” law back in 2010 to combat protestors who slept on the steps of Legislative plaza, which inadvertently made it illegal to be homeless in the state of Tennessee. Despite the mass number of frivolous arrests and blowback from public opinion, the law has yet to be reversed or modified.

For many who have no support from family, they are left to the mercy of the welfare system, cronyism in the marketplace, or exploitation in the workplace. Some say that the answer is “socialism”, while others say we need to remove vendor regulations and allow people to enter the free-market with less red-tape. Regardless of liberal or conservative economic philosophies, I think there is an answer that lies in a separate realm. .EMPATHY

If we invest in our neighbors voluntarily, or take 5 minutes out of our day to point someone in the right direction who may have never had mentorship, it could make all the difference in elevating our city, our state, our nation, our continents, and eventually the entire world with a simple shift in our persepctive. When we remove the arbitrary lines drawn between us on a map, what we have left is human beings who all seek the same things; food, clothing, shelter, and love. And it is through love that we find our passions while also helping others find theirs.

If you are interested in learning more about “Poverty And the Arts”, please check out their website at:

Povertyandthearts.org

phone # 502-600-1221

 

 

Latinos Protest Record-Breaking Obama Deportations

 

Last Friday, approximately 15-25 Immigrants and sympathizers, marched alongside the “Tennessee Immigration and Refugee Rights Coalition” to speak out against the practice of deportation. Under the Obama administration, deportations have reached record numbers, almost twice as many than that under President Bush.

Mexican Americans and latinos have began to rescind their support for President Obama.  After the U.S. backed gun smuggling scandal coined, “Operation Fast And Furious”, which lead to many Mexican deaths, and now record numbers of deportations being made against latinos, the tone has changed from support to fear in regards to this administration.

Our team approached respectfully and courteously holding our “Fight 4 World Peace” signature sign, and was met with smiles,high-fives, and was invited to walk alongside them. Police carefully monitored the event, yet the protesters were respectful and paid no mind. After the event was over, everyone peacefully dispersed, including the police, without incident.

Watch the video above as one of the organizers who went by the name of “Veronica”, came to the logical conclusion that humans are not “Aliens from another planet”, but “Human beings who have the right to move and travel. I believe that President Obama can stop this.”   As the birds move to more fertile grounds without violence or regulation during the change of seasons, we must ask ourselves….

Have humans de-humanized themselves? What separates us? Before the invention of maps, borders, countries, citizenry, and other artificial constructs, what did it mean to be “human” and were early humans even conscious of their humanity? Perhaps their unconsciousness was a blessing in disguise as their lack of perception made it difficult to distinguish. Now, with our supposed superior intellect, we distinguish from one another with such harshness and disregard to a human’s will and necessity to not only survive, but thrive.

Tennessee has become a popular immigration destination in recent years to Egyptian, Nepali, and Latino sub-groups.  Put yourself in their shoes. What if the conditions here become what is there? What would you do? When we strip away language, nationality, and religion, what are we left with? Humans who are seeking food, clothing, shelter and most importantly……social bonding with other loving and welcoming humans.

If  we are to live in such a regulated society, can we not atleast make the transition from one place to another more practical, humanizing, and streamlined?

The only thing that separates us from the animals is the belief that we are separate. We think of being as a separate species makes us superior, but in what ways?….in what ways? One reason can no longer be enough. We can do better than this…

 

-Nalini Global

2016

Non-profit Calls out to Martial Artists & Boxers

“Nalini” aka “Nalini Global”, is a non-profit organization based out of Nashville,Tn. Its core goals are to improve the lives of children domestically and abroad with a concentration on southeast Asian countries like Cambodia,Laos, and Thailand, through a variety of methods including donating money to crumbling school districts, hungry families, and taking part in local community works projects like teaching boxing classes, giving seminars on Asian/Buddhist cultures, clean-up projects, and more. In this article, we will focus on how the martial arts and spirituality can give a struggling soul the chance to thrive.  Anyone who has knowledge of Asian culture knows the correlations between martial arts, spirituality, and their focus on self-improvement.

One of Nalini’s founding members has a background in martial arts and decided to pay homage to this revelation by seeking out professional fighters and prominent martial artists to represent “Nalini”, by sporting their apparel during fights or promotional outings.   If one were to travel to Thailand or China, this marriage of spirituality and martial arts are not uncommon. In fact, many Muay Thai kickboxers allow Buddhist monks to tattoo their backs with protection mantras/spells written in Sanskrit alongside other symbolic symbols or famous deities like the powerful “Hanuman”.  In Cambodia, they have a similar tradition through their form of kickboxing known as “Pradal Serey.”

Before Muay Thai or Pradal Serey bouts, fighters often perform a dance like warm-up called the “Wai Kru” in Thailand. It serves as a way to loosen up, pay respect to teachers, and to gain favor from karma. The fighters also wear special arm bands and headbands during their Wai Kru dance that are often soaked in holy water and blessed by Buddhist monks in order to offer the fighter protection from physical harm.

78eeb9889b4f7a859e397e4de0e160eb

(Children performing the Wai Kru ritual to pay respects to their teachers and to the ways of Karma.) 

In China, many of their martial art systems also incorporate Buddhist and Taoist forms of meditation and philosophy ingrained into their training routines.  Western martial arts like Boxing and Wrestling also have correlations with adhering to honor codes and creeds as well. While these arts are not as esoteric and mystical as Muay Thai or Kung Fu, the same process of self-realization, discipline, respect, and self-awareness are still quite profound. In fact, a part of what we do here at Nalini incorporates the teaching of martial arts to local children free of charge as a way to give back to the community.

The word “Nalini” literally translates as “Lotus”. In  Buddhist lore, the lotus represents the struggle to become enlightened, as a lotus sprout must rise through muddy waters in order to reach full bloom. Just as a fighter must start out as a weakling before conditioning his/her body to become strong and mind focused.

Considering these things, it makes perfect sense to reach out to fighters and martial artists to represent Nalini. We are looking to sit down with active fighters and coaches, interview them on how martial arts has helped them grow spiritually, and have them wear our apparel during one of their promotions, fights, or media outings. It is a win-win-win situation. Everyone benefits!  One local Cambodian-American fighter by the name of “Kosal Bun”, who has a Muay Thai fight coming up in June, has agreed to be our first spotlighted fighter who we will soon write an article on.

So, if you are a fighter, coach, or well known martial artist and want to support a great cause, please contact us @ NaliniGlobal@yahoo.com  or for a faster response, message us on our facebookpage @ www.facebook.com/Naliniglobal

13245426_1736466886599865_1584506087734424425_n

(Pick up a Nalini Boxing shirt from our store page! Complete with a Sanskrit protection spell written on the back!) click here  (proceeds from any shirt sales will go towards volunteer efforts)

TEAM NALINI- 2016