I'm Bob Doughty.
I'm Barbara Klein with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. Today we tell about four more individuals who
are making a difference in the city of Washington, D.C.
The neighborhood of Anacostia is one of the poorest and
most dangerous in Washington. Anacostia
has a high rate of crime. Many young
people do not complete their high school education. And many girls become pregnant while still
A young woman who
is a psychologist is helping teenage girls in the neighborhood. Two years ago, Satira Streeter started the
first group of Girl Scouts in Anacostia.
The Girl Scouts is a
national organization of young women and girls.
It was founded in the United States almost one hundred years ago. Its goal is to help girls develop leadership
skills through many kinds of projects. The Girl Scouts has about three million
members, plus more than nine hundred thousand adult volunteers.
Satira Streeter is having
fun with a group of girls after school.
They are working together on homework for the first time as Girl Scout
Miz Streeter wants to help these girls to be
successful in school and avoid early pregnancy.
Miz Streeter is a trained psychologist and executive director of Ascensions
Community Services. She started the
center in an area of Washington where no one else offered mental health
Community Services provides many services to people who have emotional,
behavioral or mental disorders. The
center offers services to people in need, without requiring payment. Miz Streeter and other therapists help people
face problems and improve their relationships with others. They also offer classes on how to be a good
parent. In her first three years, Miz
Streeter worked without pay. Then a
local group provided money to pay for her work.
Streeter says she grew up in a community like Anacostia. She did not know her father and lived with a mother
who had mental problems. Her mother became
dependent on drugs and could not take care of her. So Miz Streeter began living with other
families when she was eleven years old.
She says other people helped her deal
with her problems. So she believed it
was time for her to help others. She
says her goal in life is, in her words, to be a healer and a helper to the
people of her community.
People around the world
have protested the killings of people in the Darfur area of Sudan. But a group of students at George Washington
University in Washington wanted to do more. They formed a group called Banaa, which is a
Sudanese Arabic word that means "to build."
Banaa is the Sudan Educational
Empowerment Network. It is working to
build lasting peace by educating a new generation of Sudanese leaders. Its goal is to get colleges to provide
Sudanese students with scholarships – money to attend college in the United
group persuaded George Washington University to provide money for a four-year
scholarship. After completing their
studies, Sudanese students are expected to return home with the skills
necessary to help deal with the complex causes of conflict in the country.
first student is a Sudanese refugee, Makwei Deng. For him, coming to America to attend George
Washington University was the chance of a lifetime.
Deng had spent sixteen years living at a refugee camp in Kenya after his village
was destroyed. He says his school work
is harder than he expected. He prepares for
classes until very early in the morning.
Mister Deng says he will
return to Sudan after finishing his studies.
He plans to work to improve the legal system so that competing groups can
settle their differences in court instead of the battlefield.
Washington University student activists like Justin Zorn started Banaa and brought
Mister Deng to the United States. Mister
Zorn says he believes he has a duty as an American citizen and as a citizen of
the world to take action against genocide.
He says members of Banaa want to bring about long-lasting change in
Banaa groups have now formed at
more than thirty other universities. In
the next few years, the group hopes to empower hundreds of Sudanese who will
help bring peace to their country.
Hunger affects more than thirty-six million people in
the United States. The Department of
Agriculture says that is up by more than forty percent since the year two
thousand. Many hungry Americans also are
homeless. Over the past year, groups
that care for homeless people have seen an increase in the number of people in
need because of the nation's economic crisis.
Badt operates Miriam's Kitchen, an aid group that feeds homeless people in
Washington, D.C. He starts work early in
the morning. While most people are still
asleep, he and his helpers prepare a meal every weekday for more than two
seven years ago, Mister Badt worked as a chef in fine restaurants in Washington
and New York City. Then, he finished a
study program in non-profit management because he wanted to do something different
with his life.
Miriam's Kitchen is operates in Western Presbyterian
Church, not far from the White House. It
has served nutritious, hot breakfasts to homeless people for more than
than one thousand people volunteer to work at Miriam's Kitchen every year. Many local groups also volunteer there. They include people from religious
organizations, businesses, non-profit organizations, high schools, universities
and government agencies.
Badt explains the morning's activity in the kitchen. Some volunteer cooks are making scrambled
eggs. Others are baking biscuits. Another volunteer is cooking meat. Still others are making home fried
potatoes. And others are making fruit
salad. The goal is to have everything
ready to serve a hot meal at seven in the morning.
Mister Badt says he wanted to change the way a traditional
soup kitchen operates. He wanted to
operate it like a busy, successful restaurant where everyone wants to do the best
In addition to a hot breakfast, homeless men and women
can get many social services at Miriam's Kitchen. These include mental health and medical
services. Homeless persons can also get
help finding a job and a place to live. And
they can take part in art, poetry, creative writing classes and book discussion
groups. But it is for Steve Badt's hot
breakfast that they stand in line.
cities like Washington, many poor students are not able to attend college. Also, Washington has one of the lowest rates
of students graduating from high school.
Susie Kay started the Hoop Dreams Scholarship Fund, which helps poor
student to go to college. "Hoop Dreams"
is the name of a nineteen ninety-four movie.
It was the true story about two high school basketball players from a
poor area of Chicago, Illinois, and the problems they faced in college.
Susie Kay was a teacher
at a mostly African-American high school in Washington when she launched Hoop
Dreams in nineteen ninety-six. She says
she was troubled by the many barriers her students faced in going to
college. Her group holds many events
like basketball games to raise money.
The money comes mostly from businesses and organizations that support
The non-profit group has helped
send almost one thousand poor high school students to college. It provides scholarships and job training. And, it provides older, trusted, more
experienced adults to offer helpful guidance to the students. These adults are called mentors.
Carroll is one of many Hoop Dreams graduates who have returned to the program
to work as a mentor. She says high
school students respect her because they know she was able to attend college
because of Hoop Dreams. She says she
wants the students to know that even when facing hard times, they can succeed.
program was written by VOA correspondents and adapted by Shelley Gollust. Our producer was Caty Weaver. I'm Bob Doughty.
I'm Barbara Klein. You can find other stories about people who are making a difference
on our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com.
Join us again next week for EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.