Tag Archives: humanitarian

An Angel Saves a 2-year-old Baby Girl


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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This video of rescuing a child that fell into a borewell may be three years old. It made a great impression and still inspires me.

In the village of Bebera in Romania, a 2-year-old baby girl, Alina, fell into a five meters deep borewell. Rescuers spent almost six hours to save the child. But all their efforts seemed futile.

Then, an angel from the watching multitude, stepped forward. She volunteered to help retrieve the child that had fallen in the borewell. The angel was a teenager named Fornica. Her thin frame just fitted the 15-inch diameter mild steel borewell casing.

After securing her with ropes, the rescuers directed her into the borewell, head first.

The first attempt was a failure.

The undaunted brave teenager volunteered to plunge into the borewell a second time.

While the whole nation was watching and praying, the brave teenager made her second attempt and succeeded in retrieving the 2-year-old Alina, safe and sound.

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“The Good Samaritan” Narayanan Krishnan’s Actions Speak Louder than Words!


Myself 

 

 

BT.V. Antony Raj

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If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.
–  Mother Teresa

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Narayanan Krishnan - The Good Samaritan

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Born in 1981, Narayanan Krishnan, a former award-winning chef hails from Madurai, Tamilnadu, India.

In 2002, while working at Taj Hotels, Bengaluru, India, he secured a job as a chef in a five-star hotel in Switzerland. Before heading for Europe, he went to his birthplace to see his parents. There, on his way to a temple, he saw a distressing scene. Narayanan recalls:

“I saw a very old man, literally eating his own human waste out of hunger. I went to the nearby hotel and asked them what was available. They had idli [rice cake], which I bought and gave to the old man. Believe me, I had never seen a person eating so fast, ever. As he ate the food, his eyes were filled with tears. Those were the tears of happiness.”

Narayanan forfeited the job in Switzerland. From June 2002 onwards, using his savings of about $2500, he started distributing around 30 food packets a day for the destitute in and around Madurai City.

Narayanan Krishnan action reminds me of an incident in the Gospel of Mark:

Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21)

akshaya-logo

In 2003, Narayanan Krishnan founded the nonprofit Akshaya Trust. In Sanskrit, Akshaya means “non-depleting.” In Hindu mythology, Goddess Annapoorani fed the hungry with the never depleting “Akshaya bowl”. Krishnan said that he chose the name Akshaya “to signify that human compassion should never decay or perish … The spirit of helping others must prevail forever.”

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Narayanan Krishnan preparing the vegetables.
Narayanan Krishnan preparing the vegetables.

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Narayanan Krishnan wakes up every day at 4 am and with his team, prepares a simple hot meal. After loading the cooked food in a donated van, the team goes out to feed around 400 destitute, mentally disabled, and elderly people in Madurai. He provides them breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Narayanan Krishnan shaves a destitute.

Narayanan Krishnan shaves a destitute.

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He not only feeds the needy, he has also acquired the skills of a barber. With the comb, scissors and razor he carries along with him, he cuts hair and shaves those he serves, transforming them into dignified persona. Krishnan says:

“I cut their hair, I give them a shave, I give them a bath. For them to feel, psychologically, that they are also human beings, that there are people to care for them, that they have a hand to hold, and a hope to live. Food is one part, and love is another part. So, the food will give them physical nutrition, and the love and affection which you show will give them mental nutrition.”

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Narayanan Krishnan hugging the destitute

Narayanan Krishnan, born into the Brahmin caste says:

“Brahmins are not supposed to touch these people, clean these people, hug these people, feed these people. Everybody has got 5.5 liters of blood. I am just a human being. For me, everybody is the same. “

Many destitute people do not know their names or where they come from. Some, because of their conditions, are paranoid and hostile. They do not beg, ask for help or offer thanks. Even then, their attitude only helps strengthen Krishnan’s steadfast resolve to help them.

“The panic, suffering of the human hunger is the driving force in me and my team members of Akshaya,” he said. “I get this energy from the people. The food which I cook … the enjoyment which they get is the energy. I see the soul. I want to save my people.”

In 2010, Narayanan Krishnan was in “CNN heroes 2010” list. He was selected among the top 10 out of 10,000 nominations from more than 100 countries.

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Narayanan Krishnan summarizes his goal:

What is the ultimate purpose of life? It is to give! Start giving. See the joy in giving.

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Hugh Herr: The Bionic Man


Myself 

 

 

BT.V. Antony Raj

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Dr. Hugh Herr Phot by Claudia Dreifus( Source: nytimes.com) (Custom)
Dr. Hugh Herr Phot by Claudia Dreifus( Source: nytimes.com) (Custom)

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Hugh Herr, an American, born October 25, 1964, a double amputee is building the next generation of bionic limbs, robotic prosthetics inspired by nature’s own designs. Herr is a rock climber, engineer, and biophysicist.

Herr grew up in rural Pennsylvania, and his only dream was becoming a mountaineer. By the time he was 8, being a prodigy rock climber, he scaled the face of the 11,627-foot (3,544 m) Mount Temple in the Canadian Rockies.

In January 1982, the 17-year-old Hugh Herr, acknowledged as one of the best climbers in the United States, and a fellow climber 20-year-old Jeff Batzer ascended a difficult technical ice route in Huntington Ravine on Mount Washington in New Hampshire. They were caught in a blizzard. Disoriented, they wandered through the frozen wilderness. Eventually, they descended into the Great Gulf and spent three nights in −20 °F (−29 °C) degree temperatures. When rescued, both the climbers had suffered severe frostbite and hypothermia. During the rescue attempt, an avalanche killed a volunteer named Albert Dow.

Months of surgeries followed. Unfortunately, both legs of Hugh Herr were amputated below the knee. His companion, Jeff Batzer lost his lower left leg, all the toes on his right foot, and the fingers of his right hand. He did not climb again. He joined the clergy and is now the director of pastoral care at the Lancaster Evangelical Free Church.

After the amputation and rehabilitation, Hugh Herr focused on academics. He earned an undergraduate degree in physics at the Millersville University, and then a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at MIT, followed by a Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard University.

Soon, an undaunted Hugh Herr using specialized prostheses that he himself designed, was climbing once again, a feat his doctors told him was unthinkable.

Hugh Herr climbing High Exposure in Mohonk Preserve an hour south of Albany on the cliffs called The Gunks. (Source: jothyrosenberg.com)
Hugh Herr climbing High Exposure in Mohonk Preserve an hour south of Albany on the cliffs called The Gunks. (Source: jothyrosenberg.com)

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Hugh Herr designed and created prosthetic feet with high toe stiffness that made it possible for him to stand on small rock edges the width of a coin. He designed titanium-spiked feet to assist him in ascending steep ice walls. He used the prostheses to alter his height that could range from five to eight feet, to avoid awkward body positions and to grab hand and footholds that were previously out of reach. He created robotic powered ankles because that was the only way for smooth walking.

Using the prostheses, Herr climbed rock cliffs at a more advanced level than he had before the amputation. He became the first person with a major amputation to perform in a sport on par with able-bodied sportsmen.

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At present, Hugh Herr is an associate professor in MIT’s Program in Media Arts and Sciences and at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. As the head of the MIT Media Lab’s Biomechatronics group, Herr focuses on the designing of the next generation of bionic limbs and robotic prosthetics inspired by nature’s own designs. He is developing wearable robotic systems that serve to augment the human physical capability. He is rewriting the laws of physiology by redefining what it means to be human.

TED is a nonprofit group devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today it covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes or less on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more.

In the following video, Dr. Hugh Herr shows his incredible technology in a talk that is both technically and deeply personal. He demonstrates the Biometric technology developed by the MIT Media Lab’s Biomechatronics group with the help of the ballroom dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis, who lost her left leg in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, and performs again for the first time on the TED stage.

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Here is the transcript of the above video:

0:12
Looking deeply inside nature through the magnifying glass of science, designers extract principles, processes and materials that are forming the very basis of design methodology, from synthetic constructs that resemble biological materials to computational methods that emulate neural processes, nature is driving design. Design is also driving nature. In realms of genetics, regenerative medicine and synthetic biology, designers are growing novel  technologies not foreseen or anticipated by nature.

0:51
Bionics explores the interplay between biology and design. As you can see, my legs are bionic. Today I will tell human stories of bionic integration, how electromechanics attached to the body and implanted inside the body are beginning to bridge the gap between disability and ability, between human limitation and human potential.

1:23
Bionics has defined my physicality. In 1982, both of my legs were amputated due to tissue damage from frostbite incurred during a mountain climbing accident. At that time, I didn’t view my body as broken. I reasoned that a human being can never be broken. Technology is broken. Technology is inadequate. This simple but powerful idea was a call to arms to advance technology for the elimination of my own disability and ultimately the disability of others. I began by developing specialized limbs that allowed me to return to the vertical world of rock and ice climbing. I quickly realized that the artificial part of my body is malleable, able to take on any form, any function, a blank slate through which to create perhaps structures that could extend beyond biological capability. I made my height adjustable. I could be as short as five feet or as tall as I’d like. (Laughter) So when I was feeling badly about myself, insecure, I would jack my height up, but when I was feeling confident and suave, I would knock my height down a notch just to give the competition a chance. (Laughter) (Applause) Narrow, wedged feet allowed me to climb steep rock fissures where the human foot cannot penetrate, and spiked feet enabled me to climb vertical ice walls without ever experiencing muscle leg fatigue. Through technological innovation, I returned to my sport stronger and better. Technology had eliminated my disability and allowed me a new climbing prowess. As a young man, I imagined a future world where technology so advanced could rid the world of disability, a world in which neural implants would allow the visually impaired to see, a world in which the paralyzed could walk via body exoskeletons.

3:31
Sadly, because of deficiencies in technology, disability is rampant in the world. This gentleman is missing three limbs. As a testimony to current technology, he is out of the wheelchair, but we need to do a better job in bionics to allow one day full rehabilitation for a person with this level of injury. At the MIT Media Lab, we’ve established the Center for Extreme Bionics. The mission of the center is to put forth fundamental science and technological capability that will allow the biomechatronic and regenerative repair of humans across a broad range of brain and body disabilities.

4:12
Today, I’m going to tell you how my legs function, how they work, as a case in point for this center. Now, I made sure to shave my legs last night, because I knew I’d be showing them off.

4:25
Bionics entails the engineering of extreme interfaces. There’s three extreme interfaces in my bionic limbs: mechanical, how my limbs are attached to my biological body; dynamic, how they move like flesh and bone; and electrical, how they communicate with my nervous system.

4:41
I’ll begin with mechanical interface. In the area of design, we still do not understand how to attach devices to the body mechanically. It’s
extraordinary to me that in this day and age, one of the most mature, oldest technologies in the human timeline, the shoe, still gives us blisters. How can this be? We have no idea how to attach things to our bodies. This is the beautifully lyrical design work of Professor Neri Oxman at the MIT Media Lab, showing spatially varying exoskeletal impedances, shown here by color variation in this 3D-printed model. Imagine a future where clothing is stiff and soft where you need it, when you need it, for optimal support and flexibility, without ever causing discomfort.

5:30
My bionic limbs are attached to my biological body via synthetic skins with stiffness variations that mirror my underlying tissue biomechanics. To achieve that mirroring, we first developed a mathematical model of my biological limb. To that end, we used imaging tools such as MRI to look inside my body to figure out the geometries and locations of various tissues. We also took robotic tools. Here’s a 14-actuator circle that goes around the biological limb. The actuators come in, find the surface of the limb, measure its unloaded shape, and then they push on the tissues to measure tissue
compliances at each anatomical point. We combine these imaging and robotic data to build a mathematical description of my biological limb, shown on the left. You see a bunch of points, or nodes. At each node, there’s a color that represents tissue compliance. We then do a mathematical transformation to the design of the synthetic skin shown on the right, and we’ve discovered optimality is where the body is stiff, the synthetic skin should be soft, where the body is soft, the synthetic skin is stiff, and this mirroring occurs across all tissue compliances. With this framework, we produced bionic limbs that are the most comfortable limbs I’ve ever worn. Clearly in the future, our clothing, our shoes, our braces, our prostheses, will no longer be designed and manufactured using artisan strategies, but rather data-driven quantitative frameworks. In that future, our shoes will no longer give us blisters.

7:07
We’re also embedding sensing and smart materials into the synthetic skins. This is a material developed by SRI International, California. Under electrostatic effect, it changes stiffness. So under zero voltage, the material is compliant. It’s floppy like paper. Then the button’s pushed, a voltage is applied, and it becomes stiff as a board. We embed this material into the synthetic skin that attaches my bionic limb to my biological body. When I walk here, it’s no voltage. My interface is soft and compliant. The button’s pushed, voltage is applied, and it stiffens, offering me a greater maneuverability of the bionic limb.

7:49
We’re also building exoskeletons. This exoskeleton becomes stiff and soft in just the right areas of the running cycle to protect the biological joints from high impacts and degradation. In the future, we’ll all be wearing exoskeletons in common activities such as running.

8:07
Next, dynamic interface. How do my bionic limbs move like flesh and bone? At my MIT lab, we study how humans with normal physiologies stand, walk and run. What are the muscles doing, and how are they controlled by the spinal cord? This basic science motivates what we build. We’re building bionic ankles, knees and hips. We’re building body parts from the ground up. The bionic limbs that I’m wearing are called BiOMs. They’ve been fitted to nearly 1,000 patients, 400 of which have been U.S. wounded soldiers.

8:40
How does it work? At heel strike, under computer control, the system controls stiffness to attenuate the shock of the limb hitting the ground. Then at mid-stance, the bionic limb outputs high torques and powers to lift the person into the walking stride, comparable to how muscles work in the calf region. This bionic propulsion is very important clinically to patients. So, on the left you see the bionic device worn by a lady — on the right a passive device worn by the same lady that fails to emulate normal muscle function — enabling her to do something everyone should be able to do, go up and down their steps at home. Bionics also allows for extraordinary athletic feats. Here’s a gentleman running up a rocky pathway. This is Steve Martin, not the comedian, who lost his legs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan.

9:33
We’re also building exoskeletal structures using these same principles that wrap around a biological limb. This gentleman does not have any leg condition, any disability. He has a normal physiology, so these exoskeletons are applying muscle-like torques and powers so that his own muscles need not apply those torques and powers. This is the first exoskeleton in history that actually augments human walking. It significantly reduces metabolic cost. It’s so profound in its augmentation that when a normal, healthy person wears the device for 40 minutes and then takes it off, their own biological legs feel ridiculously heavy and awkward. We’re beginning the age in which machines attached to our bodies will make us stronger and faster and more efficient.

10:26
Moving on to electrical interface, how do my bionic limbs communicate with my nervous system? Across my residual limb are electrodes that measure the electrical pulse of my muscles. That’s communicated to the bionic limb, so when I think about moving my phantom limb, the robot tracks those movement desires. This diagram shows fundamentally how the bionic limb is controlled, so we model the missing biological limb, and we’ve discovered what reflexes occurred, how the reflexes of the spinal cord are controlling the muscles, and that capability is embedded in the chips of the bionic limb. What we’ve done, then, is we modulate the sensitivity of the reflex, the modeled spinal reflex, with the neural signal, so when I relax my muscles in my residual limb, I get very little torque and power, but the more I fire my muscles, the more torque I get, and I can even run. And that was the first demonstration of a running gait under neural command. Feels great. (Applause)

11:34
We want to go a step further. We want to actually close the loop between the human and the bionic external limb. We’re doing experiments where we’re growing nerves, transected nerves, through channels or microchannel arrays. On the other side of the channel, the nerve then attaches to cells, skin cells and muscle cells. In the motor channels, we can sense how the person wishes to move. That can be sent out wirelessly to the bionic limb, then sensors on the bionic limb can be converted to stimulations in adjacent channels, sensory channels. So, when this is fully developed and for human use, persons like myself will not only have synthetic limbs that move like flesh and bone, but actually feel like flesh and bone.

12:24
This video shows Lisa Mallette shortly after being fitted with two bionic limbs. Indeed, bionics is making a profound difference in people’s lives.

12:34
(Video) Lisa Mallette: Oh my God. Oh my God, I can’t believe it. It’s just like I’ve got a real leg. Now, don’t start running.

12:49
Man: Now turn around, and do the same thing walking up. Walk up, get on your heel to toe, like you would normally just walk on level ground. Try to walk right up the hill. LM: Oh my God. Man: Is it pushing you up? LM: Yes! I’m not even — I can’t even describe it. Man: It’s pushing you right up.

13:11
Hugh Herr: Next week, I’m visiting the center’s —

13:14
(Applause) Thank you, thank you.

13:18
Thank you. Next week I’m visiting the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and I’m going to try to convince CMS to grant appropriate code language and pricing so this technology can be made available to the patients that need it.

13:33
Thank you. (Applause)

13:38
It’s not well appreciated, but over half of the world’s population suffers from some form of cognitive, emotional, sensory or motor condition, and because of poor technology, too often, conditions result in disability and a poorer quality of life. Basic levels of physiological function should be a part of our human rights. Every person should have the right to live life without disability if they so choose — the right to live life without severe depression; the right to see a loved one in the case of seeing impaired; or the right to walk or to dance, in the case of limb paralysis or limb amputation. As a society, we can achieve these human rights if we accept the proposition that humans are not disabled. A person can never be broken. Our built environment, our technologies, are broken and disabled. We the people need not accept our limitations, but can transcend disability through technological innovation. Indeed, through fundamental advances in bionics in this century, we will set the technological foundation for an enhanced human experience, and we will end disability.

14:52
I’d like to finish up with one more story, a beautiful story, the story of Adrianne Haslet-Davis. Adrianne lost her left leg in the Boston terrorist attack. I met Adrianne when this photo was taken at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. Adrianne is a dancer, a ballroom dancer.

15:10
Adrianne breathes and lives dance. It is her expression. It is her art form. Naturally, when she lost her limb in the Boston terrorist attack, she wanted to return to the dance floor.

15:22
After meeting her and driving home in my car, I thought, I’m an MIT professor. I have resources. Let’s build her a bionic limb to enable her to go back to her life of dance. I brought in MIT scientists with expertise in prosthetics, robotics, machine learning and biomechanics, and over a 200-day research period, we studied dance. We brought in dancers with biological limbs, and we studied how do they move, what forces do they apply on the dance floor, and we took those data and we put forth fundamental principles of dance, reflexive dance capability, and we embedded that intelligence into the bionic limb. Bionics is not only about making people stronger and faster. Our expression, our humanity can be embedded into electromechanics.

16:13
It was 3.5 seconds between the bomb blasts in the Boston terrorist attack. In 3.5 seconds, the criminals and cowards took Adrianne off the dance floor. In 200 days, we put her back. We will not be intimidated, brought down, diminished, conquered or stopped by acts of violence. (Applause)

16:43
Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce Adrianne Haslet-Davis, her first performance since the attack. She’s dancing with Christian Lightner. (Applause)

17:04
(Music: “Ring My Bell” performed by Enrique Iglesias)
(Applause)

18:21
Ladies and gentlemen, members of the research team, Elliott Rouse and Nathan Villagaray-Carski. Elliott and Nathan.
(Applause)

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Simple Acts of Kindness


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Myself  .By T.V. Antony Raj

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Kindness

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What is “kindness”?

In this video clip we see five acts of kindness by strangers lending a helping hand.

Simple acts of kindness such as these are sure to bring a smile on the face of the persons being helped. Don’t you think that undemanding acts of kindness are sure to brighten the world we live in just a wee bit more?

And, this is what life is all about.

Give it a try!

I was hungry and you gave me food, …


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Seated there on the snow, the old destitute was shivering. A middle-aged woman walked up to him and said: “Good morning!”

The man looked up at the woman. Her coat was new, a woman accustomed to the finer things in life. She looked healthy and virile as if she had never missed a meal in her life.

“Are you hungry?” she asked gently.

He thought the woman wanted to make fun of him like many others had done before.

“No,” the destitute answered with a sarcastic grin. “I’ve just come from dining with the president… Now go away.”

To his amazement, the woman continued standing there. She was smiling.

“Leave me alone,” he growled.

She bent towards him and placed her right hand gently under his arm and tried to raise him up.

“What are you doing, lady?” the man hollered. “I told you to leave me alone.”

Just then a police officer appeared from nowhere.

“Madam, is there any problem?” the police officer inquired.

“No. No problem here, officer,” the woman answered. “I am just trying to get this gentleman on to his feet. Will you help me?”

The officer hesitated and scratched his head.

“That’s old Jack. He’s been around here for a couple of years. What do you want with him?”

She pointed at the hotel a few yards away and said: “I want to take him there and get him out of the cold and keep him warm for a while and then get something for him to eat.”

“Are you crazy, lady?” Jack yelled.  ““I’ll not go in there!””

As he felt the strong hands of the police officer grab his other arm and lift him up Jack pleaded, “Let me go, officer. I didn’t do anything.”

Finally, and with some difficulty, the woman and the police officer got Jack into the cafeteria. It was eleven in the morning, and most of the breakfast crowd had already left. They seated him at a table in a remote corner.

The hotel manager saw the trio and came over to their table.

“What’s going on here, officer?” the manager asked the police officer. “Is this man here to create trouble?”

“Sir, this lady brought this man in here to be fed,” the policeman answered.

“No. No. No. Not in here!” snorted the manager. “Having a person in a prestigious establishment like this is bad for our business.”

Toothless old Jack grinned at the woman sarcastically. “See, lady. I told you didn’t I? Now can you both let me go? I didn’t want to come here in the first place.”

The woman turned to the restaurant manager and smiled.

“Sir, are you familiar with Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?” she asked.

“Of course I am,” the manager answered irritatingly. “Their weekly meetings are held in one of our conference rooms.”

“And you make enough of money at these weekly meetings by renting the conference room and catering food?”

“What business is that of yours?” the manager snorted.

“I, Sir, am the president and CEO of that company. My name is Penelope Eddy.”

“Oh,” the manager gasped.

Penelope Eddy smiled again. “That makes a difference. Isn’t it?”

She glanced at the police officer stifling a giggle and said, “Would you like to join us and have something to eat, officer?”

“No thanks,” the officer replied. “I’m on duty.”

“Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee to warm you?” Penelope asked.

“Yes. That would be very nice,” replied the officer.

The manager turned on his heel. “I will get your coffee for you right away, officer.”

As they watched the manager hurrying away, the police officer said: “You certainly put him in his place.”

“That was not my intent,” she smiled. “Believe it or not, I have a reason for all this.”

Penelope stared intently at the bemused Jack and asked him: “Sir, do you remember me?”

Old Jack searched her face with his old, rheumy eyes. “I think so … I mean … You do look familiar.”

“I am perhaps a bit older than what I was when you worked here,” she said. “Maybe I have filled out more than the day I came through that door, lean, cold and hungry.”

The police officer could not believe that such a magnificent woman could ever have been hungry.

“I was just out of college,” Penelope continued. “I had come to the city looking for a job, but no one wanted to hire a fresher. Finally, I was down to my last few cents. I walked for hours. It was February and I was cold and starving. Then, I saw this place and walked in hoping to get some leftovers to eat.”

Jack lit up with a smile.

“Now I remember,” he said. “I was behind the serving counter. You came up and asked me if you could work on something to eat. I said that it was against company policy.”

“But, then you made me the biggest roast beef sandwich that I had ever seen. You gave me a cup of coffee and told me to go over to a corner table and enjoy my food. I was afraid that you would get into trouble. Then, when I glanced at you, I saw you taking cash from your wallet and putting it in the cash register as payment for my food .”

“So you started your own business?” Old Jack said.

“I got a job that very afternoon. I worked my way up. Eventually, I started my own business. With God’s help, I prospered.”

She opened her purse and pulled out a business card and gave it to Jack.

“When you are finished here, I want you to pay a visit to a Mr Lyons. He is the personnel director of my company. I will talk to him and I am certain he will find something for you to do around the office.”

She smiled. “I think he might even find the funds to give you a little advance so that you can buy some clothes and get a place to live until you get on your feet. If you ever need anything, my door is always open to you.”

Tears welled in the old man’s eyes. “How can I ever thank you?” he asked.

“Don’t thank me,” Penelope said. “To God goes the glory. He led me to you.”

Outside the cafeteria, the police officer and Penelope Eddy paused at the entrance before going their separate ways. “Thank you for all your help, officer,” she said.

“On the contrary, Ms Eddy,” he answered. “Thank you. I saw a miracle today madam, something that I will never forget. And … And thank you for the coffee.”

The above story reminds me of what I read in  Matthew 25:34-45.

Then the king will say to those on his right,

‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father.

Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’

Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’

And the king will say to them in reply,

‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Then he will say to those on his left,

‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’

Then they will answer and say,

‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’

He will answer them,

‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’

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P.S.: There are many versions of this story circulating on the Internet. This is my version adapted from some of them. The 2008 book “Reminisces of Happy Times” by Robert Wiley, is a collection of humorous and inspirational pieces, many of which are known to be fictional, compiled by the author from other sources. This story appeared under the title “The Lifestyle of a Street Man.” So, that book is not the original source for this tale. To be frank, I do not know where this story originated and whether Ms Penelope Eddy, and her banking firm Eddy and Associates really existed.

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India – She Has High Scores in Plus Two Exams but No Money to Realize Her Dream


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By M.K. ANANTH

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Gayathri has 197/200 cut off marks for medicine, but poverty has forced her to work in agricultural fields as a daily wager.

S. Gayathri
S. Gayathri

S. Gayathri (17) of Chinnamaruthur in Pilikalpalayam panchayat, Paramathi Velur taluk, about 35 km from Namakkal town, has scored 1,129 (94 per cent) in the recent Plus Two exams. She aspires to become a doctor and she has 197/200 cut off for medicine. As she belongs to Scheduled Caste (Arunthathiyar) community, she has brighter chance to realise her dream.

But poverty has forced her to work in agricultural fields as a daily wager so that she can earn Rs. 100 a day to support her family.

When she came to know that she scored 199 in biology, 198 in chemistry, 197 in maths, 192 in physics, 179 in Tamil and 164 in English she hardly had time to celebrate as her father asked her to discontinue her studies as it would not be possible for him to support her higher education. Her mother, however, wanted the girl to pursue some degree course in a nearby government aided arts and science college.

Her parents K. Selvaraj (42) and S. Sumathi (35) have never been to school and are daily wage farm labourers. Gayathri is the eldest child and has two sisters and a brother.

The family always had trouble meeting their day to day needs as her father often fell sick and on many occasions Sumathi was the sole breadwinner of the family.

Becoming a doctor was Gayathri’s childhood dream. “I suffered from breathing difficulty and chest pain from the age of one and was badly affected till I was 13. I know the pain of living as a patient from a poor family and so I want to treat poor patients if I become a doctor. I want to specialise in gynaecology,” she adds.

She studied in the Aanangur Government High School and scored 470/500 in the Class X examination.

Her teacher Ranganathan took her to Malar Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Paramathi where she was enrolled for higher secondary. Her tuition fee was fully waived.

Teachers, who saw the girl’s interest in studies, pooled in money to pay the transportation fees.

“In 2012, the lowest cut off score for a candidate from the SC (A) community to get a medical seat in a government medical college was 188.25. With a much better cut off, Gayathri has a better chance. The school will extend support to her, but she would need more financial assistance to pursue her higher education,” M. Palaniappan , president of Malar school, said.

Persons interested in helping Gayathri can contact her father at +91 98436 87990.

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Re-posted from THE HINDU

 

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Six Word Saturday – June 23, 2012 : A miracle


Here’s my entry for Six Word Saturday:

I WAS HUNGRY, YOU FED ME.

The man slowly looked up at the woman. Her coat was new. She looked as if she had never missed a meal in her life. A woman clearly accustomed to the finer things in life.

“Are you hungry?” she asked.

His first thought was that she wanted to make fun of him, like so many others had done before.

“No,” he answered sarcastically. “I’ve just come from dining with the president. Now go away.”

To his amazement, the woman continued standing. She was smiling. Her even white teeth displayed in dazzling rows.

“Leave me alone,” he growled.

The woman’s smile became even broader. Suddenly the man felt a gentle hand under his arm.

“What are you doing, lady?” the man asked angrily. “I told you to leave me alone.”

Just then a policeman appeared from nowhere.

“Is there any problem, ma’am?” the policeman asked.

“No problem here, officer,” the woman answered. “I’m just trying to get this man to his feet. Will you help me?”

The officer scratched his head.

“That’s old Jack. He’s been a fixture around here for a couple of years. What do you want with him?”

“See that cafeteria over there?” she pointed. “I’m going to get him something to eat and get him out of the cold for awhile.”

“Are you crazy, lady?” the homeless man yelled. “I don’t want to go in there!”

Then he felt strong hands grab his other arm and lift him up.

“Let me go, officer. I didn’t do anything,” he moaned.

“This is a good deal for you, Jack. Don’t blow it,” the officer said.

Finally, and with some difficulty, the woman and the police officer got Jack into the cafeteria and seated him at a table in a remote corner. It was the eleven in the morning, and most of the breakfast crowd had already left and the lunch bunch had not yet arrived.

The manager saw the trio and strode across the cafeteria and stood beside their table.

“What’s going on here, officer? Is this man here to create trouble?” the manager asked.

“Sir, this lady brought this man in here to be fed,” the policeman answered.

“Not in here!” snorted the manager angrily. “Having a person like this here is bad for business.”

Old Jack smiled a toothless grin.

“See, lady. I told you didn’t I? Now can you both let me go? I didn’t want to come here in the first place.”

“ The woman turned to the cafeteria manager and smiled.

“Sir, are you familiar with Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?” she asked.

“Of course I am,” the manager answered impatiently. “They hold their weekly meetings in one of my banquet rooms.”

“And don’t you make enough of money catering food at these weekly meetings?”

“What business is that of yours?” the manager retorted.

“I, Sir, am Penelope Eddy, president and CEO of the company.”

“Oh,” the manager gasped.

The woman smiled again. “I thought that might make a difference.”

She glanced at the police officer stifling a giggle and said, “Would you like to join us in a cup of coffee and something to eat, officer?”

“No thanks, ma’am,” the officer replied. “I’m on duty.”

“Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee to go?”

“Yes, ma’am. That would be very nice.”

The cafeteria manager turned on his heel. “I’ll get your coffee for you right away, officer.”

They watched the manager hurrying away.

“You certainly put him in his place,” the police officer said.

“That was not my intent,” she smiled. “Believe it or not, I have a reason for all this.”

She sat down at the table across from Jack, her bemused dinner guest. She stared at him intently.

“Jack, do you remember me?” she asked.

Old Jack searched her face with his old, rheumy eyes.

“I think so .. I mean … You do look familiar.”

“I’m a little older perhaps,” she said. “Maybe I’ve even filled out more than in my younger days when you worked here, and I came through that very door, cold and hungry.”

“Ma’am?” the officer said questioningly. He couldn’t believe that such a magnificently turned out woman could ever have been hungry.

“I was just out of college,” the woman began. “I had come to the city looking for a job, but I couldn’t find anything. Finally I was down to my last few cents and had been kicked out of my apartment. I walked the streets for days. It was February and I was cold and nearly starving. I saw this place and walked in on the off chance that I could get something to eat.”

Jack lit up with a smile.

“Now I remember,” he said. “I was behind the serving counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something to eat. I said that it was against company policy.”

“I know,” the woman continued. “Then you made me the biggest roast beef sandwich that I had ever seen, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me to go over to a corner table and enjoy it. I was afraid that you would get into trouble. Then, when I looked over, I saw you put the cash for my food in the cash register. I knew then that everything would be alright.”

“So you started your own business?” Old Jack said.

“I got a job that very afternoon. I worked my way up. Eventually I started my own business, that, with the help of God, prospered.”

She opened her purse and pulled out a business card.

“When you are finished here, I want you to pay a visit to a Mr. Lyons. He’s the personnel director of my company. I’ll go talk to him now and I’m certain he’ll find something for you to do around the office.” She smiled. “I think he might even find the funds to give you a little advance so that you can buy some clothes and get a place to live until you get on your feet. If you ever need anything, my door is always opened to you.”

Tears welled in the old man’s eyes. “How can I ever thank you?” he asked.

“Don’t thank me,” the woman answered. “To God goes the glory. Thank Jesus. He led me to you.”

Outside the cafeteria, the officer and the woman paused at the entrance before going their separate ways. “Thank you for all your help, officer,” she said.

“On the contrary, Ms. Eddy,” he answered. “Thank you. I saw a miracle today ma’am, something that I will never forget. And … And thank you for the coffee.”

Matthew 25:34-40

Then the king will say to those on his right,

‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’

Then the righteous will answer him and say,

‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’

And the king will say to them in reply,

‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

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Some facts about Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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“By blood, I am Albanian.
By citizenship, an Indian.
By faith, I am a Catholic nun.
As to my calling, I belong to the world.
As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.”

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta is a household name in India and in many other countries for her good works. But many people don’t know much about her other than that she was “a nun who helped the poor.”

Here are some facts about this most humble servant of God.

Born on August 26, 1910, in Albania. She was baptized as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu.  She considered 27 August, the day she was baptized, to be her “true birthday”.

When she was a little girl, her family lived in one of the two houses owned by her father.  When she was 8 years old her father died, ending their family’s financial security.

Agnes was interested with missionaries from an early age. When she was 12, she was bent on committing herself to a religious vocation.

At the age of 18, she left home and joined the Sisters of Loretto in Rathfarnham, Ireland on May 23, 1929.

Although she lived to be 87 years old, she never saw her mother or sister again after the day she left for Ireland.

After learning English for an year in Ireland, she got transferred to the convent of Sisters of Loretto in Darjeeling, India.

She took her vows as a nun in 1931. She chose the name Teresa – to honour Saints Therese of Lisieux and Teresa of Avila.

Painting of Saint Therese of Lisieux by Leonard Porter

Agnes was allured by Therese of Lisieux, the patron saint of missionaries, as well as the patron saint of florists, AIDS sufferers and others.

St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila)

Teresa of Avila is the patron saint of people in religious orders, lacemakers, Spain and more.

Teresa began teaching history and geography in Calcutta at St. Mary’s, a high school for the daughters of the wealthy. She remained there for 15 years and enjoyed the work, but was distressed by the poverty she saw all around her.

In 1946, Teresa traveled to Darjeeling for a retreat. It was on that journey that she realized what her true calling was:

I heard the call to give up all and follow Christ into the slums to serve him among the poorest of the poor.

It took two years of preparation before she was able to begin doing the work she felt compelled to do. She needed permission from the Sisters of Loretto to leave the order – while retaining her vows – as well as permission from the Archbishop of Calcutta to live and work among the poor. She also prepared herself for the hard task by following a course in nursing.

In 1948, Teresa set aside her nun’s habit and adapted her clothing to a simple sari and sandals, as worn by the women she would be living among. To begin her work, she moved into a small rented hovel in the slums of Calcutta.

Having been used to a life of comparative comfort, Teresa’s first year in the slums was particularly hard. She had no income and had to beg for food and supplies. She was often tempted to return to her earlier life in the convent. But she was a determined soul  and relied on her faith in God to get herself through all adversities.

One of her first projects was to teach the children of the poor. All that she had as a tool was her experience gained by teaching the children of the rich. To begin with she did not have any equipment, teaching aids  or supplies. She taught the children of the poor to read using books, and to write by writing on the dirt with sticks.

In addition to promoting literacy, Teresa taught the children basic hygiene. She visited their families and inquired about their needs. Helped them with provisions when she could.

Soon, word began to spread about Teresa’s good works. She had other volunteers wanting to help.

By 1950, she was able to start the Mission of Charity – a congregation dedicated to caring for “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people who had become a burden to the society and shunned by everyone.”

She opened a hospice for the poor, a home for sufferers of leprosy, and a home for orphans and homeless youth.

Mother Teresa was honoured with many awards throughout her life – from the Indian Padma Shri in 1962 to the inaugural Pope John XXIII Peace Prize in 1971 to Albania’s Golden Honour of the Nation in 1994 and, most famously, the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.

She refused the traditional Nobel honour banquet, instead requested that the $192K funds be given to help the poor of India.

She continued her work with the poor for the rest of her life, leading the Missionaries of Charity until just months before her death on September 5, 1997.

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He Practises What He Preaches


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Mr Palam Kalyanasundaram hails from Tirunelveli District in the state of Tamilnadu, India. He is a great humanitarian. He practices what he preaches.

I was impressed by the article titled “Practising what he preaches” published in “The Hindu” on August 22, 2004 about this great person. I have reproduced that article here:

Practising what he preaches

“We cannot sustain ourselves, unless we contribute to the society in someway or the other. I strongly feel if even one person does his bit towards social good, there will be some change.”
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Shri P. Kalyanasundaram (Photo: R.M. Rajarathinam)

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A will to serve combined with a sense of social justice has been the guiding principle of P. Kalyanasundaram, who has spent over 45 years in social service. A gold medallist in library science, he is also an MA in literature and history. During his 35-year-career as a librarian at the Kumarkurupara Arts College at Srivaikuntam in Tuticorin district, he gave away all his salary for charity and did odd jobs to meet his daily needs. He has also come forward to donate his body and eyes to the Tirunelveli Medical College.

The Union Government has acclaimed him as `The Best Librarian in India’. He has also been chosen as `one of the top ten librarians of the world’. The International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, has honoured him as `one of the noblest of the world’ while the United Nations Organisation adjudged him as one of the Outstanding People of the 20th Century’. An American organisation has also selected him as the `Man of the Millennium.’

Mr. Kalyanasundaram, who has founded a social welfare organisation, `Paalam’, shares his experiences in a chat with Prathiba Parameswaran.

SIMPLICITY IN life and exemplariness in practice has been the hallmark of Mr. Kalyanasundaram. Born in August 1953 at Melakarivelamkulam in Tirunelveli district, he lost his father at a very young age. It was his mother, who inspired him to serve the poor.

When he was at college, the Indo-China war broke out, and he contributed his gold chain to the then Chief Minister, Kamaraj, for the war fund. At this time around, he went to meet Balasubramanian, Editor, Ananda Vikatan. “He sent me away, saying he would write about me the day I donated something I had earned myself. I did not speak a word to anyone about what I had done. I took it as a challenge,” Mr. Kalyanasundaram recalls. Ever since he got a job as a librarian in Tuticorin, he has contributed all his salary, pension benefits and ancestral property to social welfare. It was not until 1990, when he received his pension arrears and contributed it to the Collector’s Fund, that the then Tirunelveli Collector felicitated him, despite his protests. The `Paalam’ serves as a bridge between donors and beneficiaries: it collects money and materials from those willing to donate and distribute them among the weaker sections. It has also contributed to the cyclone relief funds in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, and has helped the earthquake victims in Maharashtra and Gujarat. “We cannot sustain ourselves, unless we contribute towards the society in someway or the other. I strongly feel if even one person does his bit towards social good, there will be some change,” he asserts.

Mr. Kalyanasundaram feels that one must achieve something in his chosen field. His contribution to library science is immense. A thesis he submitted as part of his post-graduate course to the Madurai Kamaraj University fetched him distinction. He has also hit upon an easy way of tracing and accessing books in libraries.

His ability to strike a rapport even with youngsters is remarkable. He cites the instance when he started wearing khadi. At college, he was required to take classes on Gandhianism. “I had to speak about simplicity and everything Gandhi stood for, but I was clad in expensive clothes. That was when I decided to switch over to khadi,” he relates. Since then he had always practised what he stood for, making himself a role model for many youths.

He was popular among college and school students, and many of them have joined his organisation.

He has long-term plans for his organisation. One is the setting up of a nationalised digital library with modern equipment, which could be accessed by people from all walks of life.

He also wants to set up an international children’s university in Tamil Nadu, with foreign aid. However, he says, a mission has a meaning only when the right people are involved in it. The Directorate of Public Libraries should recruit people with a library science background to be librarians, he says. “And good librarians should have a broad knowledge of everything.”

A person bearing a pseudonym “CHAT O CHAT :)” has posted on Facebook an article in Tamil about Mr. Kalyanasunderam. I am reproducing below that article for my Tamil friends.

Mr. P. Kalyanasunderam and the film stars

அன்பு பாலம் அமைப்பின் – பெருந் தமிழர் கலியாண சுந்தரம்.

கலியாண சுந்தரம் அவர்கள் கல்லூரியில் பேராசிரியராக 35 ஆண்டுகள் பணி புரிந்தார் .மாதா மாதம் தாம் பெற்ற சம்பள பணத்தையும் முழுமையாக  ஏழை மக்களுக்கு செலவழித்தார். தனது தேவைகளுக்கு உணவகத்தில் பணியாளராக வேலை செய்தார்.

உலகில் இதுவரை யாரும் செய்ததில்லை என்பதால், அமெரிக்காவில் கடந்த 1000 ஆண்டுகளுகளில் சிறந்த மனிதர் –`Man of the Millennium’ என்ற விருதிற்கு ஒரு அமைப்பினால் தேர்ந்தெடுக்கப்பட்டார் .

தனது குடும்ப சொத்தின் மூலம் கிடைத்த பணத்தையும், 5 வது ஊதிய குழுவில் மூலம் கிடைத்த விடுபட்ட ஊதிய தொகையையும் ஏழை மக்களுக்கு எழுதி வைத்து விட்டார் .

தனது எளிமையான வாழ்கையை நடத்தி மக்கள் தொண்டாற்றி வருகிறார்.

தமிழ் இளைஞர்களே,

நடிகர்கள் கோடி கோடியாக ஊதியம் பெரும் பணம் யாருடையது ? ஏழைத் நீங்கள் திரைப்படம் பார்க்கும் பணம் நடிகர்களுக்கு கோடியாக கைமாறுகியது.

கொடி, தோரணம், பாலபிசேகம், விளம்பர பதாகை என்று நீங்கள் உங்கள் உழைப்பையும், பணத்தையும் நடிகர்களுக்கு கொட்டி கொடுகிறீர்கள். பதிலுக்கு அவர்கள் உங்களுக்கு என்ன கொடுகிறார்கள் தெரியமா?

  • தமிழக மக்கள் போராட்டத்திற்கு எங்களை அழைக்காதீர்கள்.
  • புயலால் பாதிப்பா அரசாங்கம் பார்த்து கொள்ளும் .
  • எங்களிடம் எந்த விதமான உதவியையும் எதிர்பார்க்காதீர்கள்.
  • நாங்கள் கலை சேவை புரிபவர்கள்.
  • எங்களுக்கும் ஏழை மக்களுக்கும் எந்த தொடர்பும் இல்லை.

என்பதுதான்.

I believe Mr Palam Kalyanasundaram’s humanitarian efforts will impress you too.

However, while searching the media to know and write about Mr Palam Kalyanadunderam, I came across the following assertions parrotted by all the writers.

“The Union Government has acclaimed him as ‘The Best Librarian in India'”

“He has also been chosen as one of the top ten librarians of the world’.”

“The International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, has honoured him as ‘one of the noblest of the world'”

“The United Nations Organisation adjudged him as one of the Outstanding People of the 20th Century’.”

“An American organisation has also selected him as the ‘Man of the Millennium’ and presented him Rs. 30 crores.”

I don’t mean to bemoan this kind-hearted man, but I wish to  know whether all these claims are indeed true. So, if true, can anyone please provide the original sources to substantiate these assertions?

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