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Help Homelessness

Written by Susan Radtke


"Why did you say good morning to that bum?" asked Jaime.

Karen said, "He's not a bum; he is just a homeless man."

"I see him every time I pass this block, and one time he asked my dad if he had some change to

spare. He gives me the creeps, and maybe if he changed his clothes once in awhile he wouldn't

smell so terrible."

"Honestly, Jaime, sometimes you can be so mean. It is easy for you to make fun of him. Your

parents take you to the mall every other day to buy you an outfit. They also pay for all the hair

products, makeup, deodorant, and perfume that make you smell so nice. If they didn't, then you

might smell just like that man."

"Hey, Karen, why are you getting so bent out of shape? I was just stating some facts, not making

fun of him. Stop overreacting. Maybe he will get a job, and then his appearance will improve."

"I'm not overreacting. Things will never improve if all people do is look down their noses at the


"What can I do to help that man? I am only twelve. I don't have a job."

"It's not all about money. It's your attitude. Start by showing homeless people a little respect by

saying ‘hello' or ‘good morning.' A smile goes a long way too."

"Ok, I can do that, but it still won't help that man. Besides saying hello, Karen, what's your great

idea for helping homeless people?"

What solution will Karen give Jaime to help the homeless man's situation and other homeless

people in America?

Answer the following questions before you finish the story.

1. Will donating clean clothes to local charities be Karen's solution to helping the homeless? How

will being dressed appropriately help the homeless man in the story?

2. Will Karen suggest making survival kits full of necessities to help the homeless man? What

items could be placed in the kit that homeless people might need?



Help Homelessness

3. What will the homeless man's response be if Jaime and Karen offer direct help? What would be

another solution for getting this man help?

4. What items could kids donate to help homeless people get back and forth to a job?

5. What suggestion will Karen make to help feed the homeless? What kind of outreach programs

might be available in the girls' community?

6. What can kids get their parents or other adults to do to help the homeless?

7. What problems could Karen and Jaime face trying to help the homeless?

8. What can Karen and Jaime do at school to help the homeless?



Help Homelessness

Use any of the ideas you wrote for the thinking questions to write an ending for this story. Be sure

to include some dialog in your ending. Always use complete sentences. When you have completed

it, proofread your story and make sure you have used correct punctuation. Write your creative story

ending for Help Homelessness on these two blank pages.



Help Homelessness


Water, Water, Everywhere

By Phyllis Naegeli

Today's headline reads: "Water Shortage -

Please Conserve." What's all the fuss about?

Isn't water a renewable resource? That

would mean we can use as much as we

want. But wait a minute. It's true that water

is renewable. The water cycle shows us that.

However, we need the right kind of water in

the right places all the time. That just

doesn't happen. Why? Let's see how all this


The water cycle is constantly moving

water. The sun evaporates water into the air

from lakes and oceans. As the air is saturated and cooled, clouds form.

Then the water falls to the ground as rain or snow. The water then

flows into the ground to the water table, into lakes, rivers, and

streams, and back to the ocean. Then the cycle starts again.

All living things need clean, fresh water to survive. You can go days

without food but not without water. If you don't get the water you

need, your body dehydrates. You can't live very long without water.

Ninety-seven percent of the water on Earth is in the ocean. The salt in

the ocean water makes it unusable for drinking. Another two percent

is frozen in the ice caps and glaciers on the Earth. This leaves one

percent of the water on Earth available for us to use. There are many

factors that affect the amount of water available for you. Where you

live, the amount of rain that falls, and how water is collected and

reserved all affect the amount of cool, clear water available.

One factor that we can't change is where it will rain. The amount of

rain an area receives affects the amount of water available for use.

Some major cities are located in areas where they can get water from

the ground. They dig wells to provide water for their citizens. Other

areas use surface water from lakes, rivers, or streams. They may build

dams to contain the water in a reservoir. Other places don't have water

readily available. These areas must pipe water in from far away. No

matter where we live, we must be careful with the water we have in

our part of the world.

According to a study done by the state of California, the average

person uses over one hundred gallons of water per day. Water is used

for drinking, taking a shower or bath, brushing teeth, washing hands,

cleaning dishes, doing laundry, and flushing toilets. Using water

wisely is important.

No matter where you live, there are many ways you can help

conserve water. Today, we have many helpful tools to help us save

water. There are low-flow shower heads and faucets, dishwashers and

washing machines that use up to 50% less water, and toilets that use

only one-third of the water that they did a few years ago. Installing

these items in your home is the first line of defense against wasting


There are many other ways you can help. Don't leave the water

running when you brush your teeth. Take a shower rather than a bath.

When you wash your car, use a bucket rather than the hose. Better yet,

use a commercial car wash. It's fun, and they recycle the water. Water

your lawn with a soaker hose instead of a sprinkler. It's also important

to fix leaky faucets. If you find one, let your parents know. A good

way to have cool water available all the time is to keep a pitcher in the

fridge. This way you won't have to wait for the water in the pipes to

bring you colder water to drink. Only run your clothes washer and

dishwasher when they are full. This can save hundreds of gallons of

water a year. All of these will help to conserve water.

Water is an important natural resource. Learning to use it wisely will

ensure that it will always be available. So, make a fuss and conserve

water. It's worth it!

Water, Water, Everywhere


1. Water is a(n) ______ resource.

A. abundant

B. renewable

C. unusable

D. extinct


2. Which of the following does NOT affect the amount of water

available for you each day?

A. the amount of rainfall

B. where you live

C. the way water is collected and reserved

D. the clothes you wear

3. What happens to your body when you don't have water to


A. nothing

B. It gets dehydrated.

C. It gets decorated.

D. It becomes healthier.

4. According to a study done by the state of California, how

many gallons of water does the average person use each day?

A. 1

B. 10

C. 1000

D. 100

5. Which of the following is not a good way to conserve water?

A. keeping a pitcher of water in the refrigerator

B. fixing leaky faucets

C. using a low-flow shower head

D. using a sprinkler to water your lawn

6. All large cities pipe their water in from far away.

A. false

B. true

7. The water in the ocean is good to drink.

A. true

B. false

8. When should you run your dishwasher and washing machine?

A. when it is raining

B. when they are half full

C. when they are full

D. none of the above

Explain the water cycle.


Compute the water you use each day. Design a chart to keep track of

your water usage for a week. At the end of the week, compute your

average daily usage. Do you use more or less than the findings by the

state of California? What can you do to improve how you use water?


Javed in Pakistan: A Problem with Illiteracy

By Jennifer Kenny

Caption: Students

outside their classroom in

the village of Bakote,


There's a young student

named Javed in Pakistan.

The Islamic Republic of

Pakistan is a country in

Asia with over 175 million

people. It became an

independent country on

August 14, 1947. This Asian country is about two times the size of


Javed and the other children in Pakistan do not have easy lives.

They face many challenges. Many of the children are poor and need

better healthcare. Many don't eat enough, and 30% are malnourished

because they can't get enough healthy foods. Many live on less than

$2 a day. Only about half the children can even get clean water to

drink. Some lack basic, safe household sanitation. However,

perhaps the biggest problem Javed and other children face is


A good education has been known to change lives. A good

education can help someone get a job. A good education can help a

person make enough money to leave poverty behind. A job and

money can help a person obtain better healthcare. In Pakistan,

studies have indicated that increasing the amount of time a student

stays in school is associated with increasing the economy.

Unfortunately for the children, though, the education system in

Pakistan seems almost broken. Half of the people in Pakistan are

illiterate. That means they cannot read or write. Pakistan has one of

the lowest literacy rates in the entire world.

In Pakistan, it is the state's job to provide free primary education.

Primary school lasts for five years. School in Pakistan is not

compulsory; therefore, no one is forced to go to school. In fact,

according to UNICEF, only about half of those that could go to

school at the primary level actually do. The enrollment rate for boys

is higher than it is for girls. Less than half of those that even go

manage to finish five years of school. Of course, that all means that

the number of those who go on to secondary school or college is

very, very small. Only about 1/4 of secondary school-aged children

actually go to school. Only 3% attend institutes of higher education.

In the entire world, Pakistan ranks second for the number of kids

who aren't in school. That's about 6.5 million children out-of-school

according to UNESCO. Many of these poor, illiterate children are

exploited in child labor.

Pakistan's schools fail for many reasons. The government of

Pakistan spends very little on education. Class sizes can be as large

as 55 students with only one teacher. There are problems with

absentee rates among teachers. Almost 25% of public school

teachers are out each day. There are also some general problems

with the quality of some teachers who are placed in classrooms but

don't really wish to be teachers. In addition, many educational

resources are not readily available in the classrooms.

Recently, some non-profit organizations have tried to help with

the problem of illiteracy and the quality of education in Pakistan.

That's how Javed started to go to school living in a town called

Ittehad in southern Pakistan. These outreach schools hope to allow

boys like Javed and girls like his sisters to become literate, or able to

read and write. One group alone, UNICEF, provided school for

500,000 girls for the first time between 2005 and 2007. Javed's

parents hope the schools will help their children live better lives.

Javed's cousins faced a similar problem but for a different reason.

His cousins were affected by a huge earthquake (7.6 on the Richter

scale) on October 8, 2005. Seventy-three thousand people were

killed, 3.3 million lost their homes, and over 8,000 schools were

destroyed in those areas. Slowly, emergency organizations are

trying to rebuild. In the meantime, boys and girls are encouraged to

come to school when they are opened in their areas. This is a special

cultural change for girls, because in the past they were not always

encouraged to care about education. Javed's cousins will hopefully

learn to read and write one day, too.

Besides food, water, and healthcare, the hope is that reading and

writing will allow children to create better lives for themselves as

adults. Being illiterate is connected to poverty and


underdevelopment as well as low life expectancy. Those who

attended school for at least a little while are more likely to send their

children to school than those who never went to school at all.

Studies by the World Bank show that education is the biggest

determinant in economic growth. In a country where boys on the

average go to school 3.8 years and girls only 1.3 years, more school

time might really make a difference in the quality of life.

Javed in Pakistan: A Problem with Illiteracy


1. Pakistan became an independent country in ______.

A. 1947

B. 1895

C. 1776

D. 1825

5. Pakistan is in ______.

A. Asia

B. Europe

C. Africa

D. North America

6. ______ of the people in Pakistan are illiterate.

A. 50%

B. 0%

C. 100%

D. 75%

7. Who is most likely to be in school in Pakistan?

A. a primary school boy

B. a college-aged woman

C. a college-aged man

D. a primary school girl

Do you agree that schools are as important as food and water to those

who were affected by the earthquake in Pakistan? Explain your


2. The population of Pakistan is around ______.

A. 60 million people

B. 16 million

C. 175 million people

D. 640 million people

3. What is a problem in Pakistan?

A. poverty

B. malnourished children

C. illiteracy

D. all of the above

4. Which word means the ability to read or write?

A. enrichment

B. literacy

C. fundamental

D. malnourishment


Do you believe reading and writing can improve a person's life?


Finish Javed's story.


An Afghan Girl Goes to School

By Colleen Messina

Saida ran over to the man who

stood by her brother's grave. Her

dark hair whipped through the wind

even though her head was covered

with a bright red and white scarf.

Her sky-blue eyes brimmed over

with tears. She boldly pulled on the

man's shirt sleeve because she had

something important to say.

Saida said, "I don't have any more

brothers. I want to go to school."

The man looked down at the

12-year-old girl. He was building a school close by. He knew that

education was the key to rebuilding Afghanistan. And right in front of

him, Saida's hopeful face showed her intense desire for an education.

Saida got her wish and was able to go to school. It helped her forget

the sadness of her past. Today, her country is dotted with red, green,

and yellow flags flying over grave sites. Saida's brother's grave is

marked only with a small stone. Saida still cries when she thinks

about him. He was killed by a land mine while he was herding the

family's goats. Saida also lost two other brothers who died of typhoid.

Saida's desire to go to school was greater than her fear of talking to

the American man who visited her brother's grave, and now she is

happy that she did.

A school might not seem like a big deal. But in Afghanistan, it is a

major achievement. Afghanistan's history was full of conflict. In

1996, a group called the Taliban took over Afghanistan. They were in

power until 2001. During that time, life was difficult for people in

Afghanistan, especially the women. Women were not allowed to

work, and they couldn't leave their homes without a male escort. They

had to cover themselves from head to toe. The Taliban did not want

girls to receive an education. People who allowed girls to go to school

faced severe consequences or even death.

Many girls like Saida want to learn. They want to become doctors,

engineers, and teachers. While the Taliban was in power, only

800,000 children went to school. Today, almost 5 million children,

including Saida, have this opportunity. Other countries including the

United States are helping Afghanistan's villages build schools in order

to educate their children.

Saida's school is in a village called Lalander. The small school

building is painted bright blue. It has six classrooms and one office.

The children can play on the small playground, which has a swing set.

It even has a well for drinking water. When Saida plays on the swings,

she sees jagged mountains in all directions. She also sees bullet holes

in the walls from past attacks of the Taliban. Saida feels safe now

because police always guard the school.

Afghanistan is a little smaller than the state of Texas. It has an area of

251,737 square miles. Afghanistan has rugged mountains as well as

vast, flat plains. The land seems barren, but Afghanistan has many

natural resources. The country has natural gas, petroleum, copper,

coal, talc, lead, zinc, and salt. Its hills contain precious and

semiprecious stones.

The people of Afghanistan do not have an easy life. Afghanistan is

one of the poorest countries in the world because of years of political

problems. Agriculture is the primary occupation in spite of the other

many natural resources. The average Afghan lives only 43 years, and

only 36% of the population can read and write. Many villages do not

have electricity or running water.

In spite of their poor circumstances, Afghans love their close

families, and sharing food is an important custom. Even unexpected

guests are fed well. Saida's family might serve chapli kabobs, which

are made with beef or lamb with green onions, bell peppers, and hot

chili peppers seasoned with garlic and cumin. Dessert might be sheer

yakh, or Afghan ice cream, which is vanilla ice cream, sprinkled with

rose water and chopped pistachios. Afghan cooks don't usually use

precise measurements in their recipes, but the food usually tastes

great. Saida's family might say to their guests, "Nosh-e-Jaan" which

means "good eating." And now, Saida has another place besides her

home where she feels happy: her school.

Saida loves her new school. She watches laughing boys play soccer

against the grim backdrop of the ruins of a government building. Even

though the children have experienced hard times, they smile under the

blue sky. Their hearts feel grateful. As their national anthem says

about Afghanistan: "This land will shine forever...like the sun in the


blue sky...it will remain as the heart forever."

An Afghan Girl Goes to School


1. Which group took over Afghanistan in 1996?

A. the Taliban

B. the United Nations

C. the PTA

D. the Audubon Society

2. Which state is approximately the size of Afghanistan?

A. New Jersey

B. Alaska

C. Texas

D. California

6. What is sheer yakh?

A. a cookie

B. a carbonated drink

C. ice cream

D. a meat kabob

7. What percentage of the Afghan population can read and write?

A. 36%

B. 100%

C. 56%

D. 10%

8. What is another term for someone who can read and write?

A. literate

B. smart

C. writalot

D. readalittle

Imagine that you were told that all the schools in your area were

closing. What would you do all day? Describe a normal day if you did

not go to school.

3. What killed Saida's brother?

A. typhoid

B. a land mine

C. chicken pox

D. starvation

4. What color is Saida's school?

A. yellow

B. red

C. green

D. blue

5. More girls are now receiving education.

A. True

B. False


Pretend that you are moving to Afghanistan and will open a store in

the Afghan Mall. Saida lives near your new store. What would you

sell? What do you think that Saida would like to buy from you?


Write a letter to Saida and ask her at least five new questions about

her school. Ask her about things that were not mentioned in the

article. Include a description about these areas in your own school.


An African Girl Drinks Clean, Fresh Water

By Colleen Messina

"It's good!" cried Teesha with a smile. The

clean, fresh water sparkled in her cup. It

tasted so sweet and cold. She had never had a

cup of water like it before. Now she

understood why her mother liked an old

African saying that stressed the importance of

water. It went like this: "Khoto, Pula, Nala!"

It means "Peace, Rain, Prosperity!"

Ten-year-old Teesha used to collect water

from the murky stream in the ditch near her

home. The brown water had a funny smell,

but her family had no choice. In Uke, Nigeria,

there was no clear, running water. Even though her name means

"alive and well" in Swahili, Teesha often felt sick because of the

contaminated water.

Many women and children in Africa walk for miles each day over

rough ground to collect water in dirty pails. They use water from

streams, rivers, and lakes for cooking, taking baths, and washing

clothes. Contaminated water causes diseases, such as typhus, cholera,

dysentery, and malaria. Teesha's six-year-old brother had died last

year from cholera, and her mother cried for months. She cried again

with relief when she heard that her village was getting a well. At last,

their water would be safe.

Teesha's village was fortunate to get a new well. First, technicians

figured out the best place to drill. Large, modern equipment drilled the

new well. Soon, thousands of villagers had fresh water to drink for the

first time in 14 years. The technicians taught the villagers how to

maintain the water system. They taught Teesha's family how to

transport and store the water so that it stays fresh. They taught

Teesha's mother how to use different bowls of water for cleaning

vegetables and feeding livestock. These things will help keep Teesha's

family healthy.

ceremony for the new well. He said, "What we never thought or

dreamt of, we have now." Teesha clapped. The villagers cheered.

Clean, fresh water was a great gift for the village. Many villages in

Nigeria need wells to provide good water sources for their people. In

Nigeria, even the basic necessities of life are appreciated very much.

Nigeria is a country in West Africa. It is about one-third larger than

the state of Texas. It is the most populated country in Africa. The

Niger River and its tributaries go across much of the country. The

southern part of the country has a tropical rainforest climate. The

north has a dry, desert-like climate with less than twenty inches of

rain a year. Drought has been a problem for many years. Nigeria has a

great deal of petroleum, coal, and tin, but most Nigerians work in

agriculture. They export palm oil, cocoa, coconuts, citrus fruits, and

sugar cane.

Nigerians, like others who live in third world countries, have poor

living conditions. Teesha's life expectancy is only 47 years, and one

of the reasons is the lack of potable water and sanitation. In spite of

poor conditions, Nigerians have a rich legacy of culture, especially in

music. Nigerian music is called the "heart of African music." It is

influenced by the over 400 ethnic groups around the country. Each

group has its own instruments and musical traditions. Nigerian music

includes juju, highlife, fuji, afrobeat, apala, gospel, jazz, and many


Nigerians face many challenges to have basic necessities in their

lives. However, as more and more villages receive new wells, at least

clean water will be available to children like Teesha. Then, she can

say "Khoto, Pula, Nala" with a smile on her face and a cup of clean,

fresh water in her hand.

An African Girl Drinks Clean, Fresh Water


1. Which disease is NOT caused by contaminated water?

A. cholera

B. dysentery

C. malaria

D. chicken pox

Chief Kalledi of Teesha's village gave a speech at the dedication


2. Where did Teesha get water before their village had a well?

A. from a neighboring village well

B. from a waterfall

C. from a stream

D. from a lake

3. What does the name Teesha mean?

A. happiness

B. peace, rain, and prosperity

C. one who likes water

D. alive and well

4. Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa.

A. True

B. False

5. How long had Teesha's village waited for fresh water?

A. 24 years

B. 400 years

C. 14 years

D. 4 years

6. Which element of Nigerian culture was discussed in the


A. dance

B. art

C. literature

D. music

7. Which river flows through much of Nigeria?

A. Mississippi River

B. Niger River

C. Nile River

D. Ganges River

8. What is the correct translation for "Khola, Pula, Nala!"?

A. Peace, Plumbing, Credit Cards

B. Peace, Wells, Money

C. Peace, Rain, Prosperity

D. Peace, Straws, Dimes

Imagine that your water was turned off for one day. Write a diary

entry about what your day was like without water.


The saying "Peace, Rain, Prosperity!" was discussed in the article.

Write a paragraph about each of these things and how they

contribute to meaningful life in Africa. Which of these three do you

think is the most important? Why?



Life in China's Cancer Villages

By Colleen Messina

Caption: Xiangfan, China: A man walks beside a polluted creek

near a chemical factory.

Liang is an old man. He has wrinkly skin and laughing black eyes.

Even though his expression is calm, Liang feels sad because his village

has changed so much. The 77-year-old man misses the clear water of

the river and the fresh air he used to breathe. Liang lives in a small

village in China. He believes that pollution gave him lung cancer.

Liang has a rickety house along the once-sparkling river. Today, the

water is greenish-brown. The water does not smell good. It does not

flow freely. Liang believes that he got lung cancer because he drinks

contaminated water. The air is also full of chemicals. Both kinds of pollution come from chemical factories that

came to the village two decades ago. The factories brought jobs to the villages. They also brought sickness and

sadness. Now Liang says, "I just hope I can die sooner. I gave my life to the Communist Party, yet I have nothing

to leave to my own children."

Other villagers are also sick. Over 200 people have been diagnosed with lung, bone, liver, and breast cancer.

The children also have a higher rate of leukemia than normal. Leukemia is a blood cancer. Some villagers were

able to move away, but many families cannot afford it. This village and others like it have been nicknamed

"cancer villages" by people in the media. More and more villages have faced these challenges in the last 25 years.

One report said that the water from the factories has high levels of bacteria and fluoride. The factories also

produce a cancer-causing chemical called hydroxybenzene. The levels of these substances exceed government

recommendations for safety. However, even though the government forced some factories to close, they still

operate secretly. Some people try to sue the factories. No court will accept the cases. The people in the villages

feel trapped and helpless.

People first became sick in these villages in the 1990s. At first, no one understood what was happening. The

villagers watched their water become smelly and murky. They didn't know why it was happening. They didn't

understand how dangerous the contaminated water was. They could not afford to buy bottled water. Finally, they

learned about the harmful chemicals in their water from newspapers and television. They finally understood that

the waste from the factories was making them sick. However, for many Chinese villagers, it was too late. Many of

them, like Liang, were dying.

Liang loves his country, but he knows that many Chinese people suffer from poverty and sickness. China is a

large, crowded country. Over 500 million people live in China. The cities are expanding quickly. The rural areas

are also growing and changing, just like Liang's village. Because China covers so many square miles, it has many

kinds of geography and different climates.

Western China has plateaus and mountainous areas. Several rivers flow from west to east. Eastern China has

grassy plains. Grasslands also cover the north, and more mountains are in the south. Temperatures are also very

different in various parts of China. Many people in China are farmers. They do not have much money, and

droughts in recent years have created dust storms and erosion. Even though the factories were supposed to help

the Chinese people, especially in rural areas, to have a better life, things have gotten much worse. The pollution

has destroyed the environment and the health of the people. Liang says, "Before you were poor, but you had

health. And health surely is the most precious thing."

Another precious thing to the Chinese people is their ancient culture. China is full of treasures. Lofty

mountains shelter beautiful old temples. Adorable pandas hide in green bamboo. China mastered art, literature,

and music before America was even discovered by the Europeans. Liang knows that there are many good things

in his heritage. He hopes that China can overcome its problems and preserve its refined beauty. At least, he hopes



that the water and air can become fresh and clean again.

Refinement is also evident in relationships in China. One of the most important concepts is the idea of "saving

face." This means that no one embarrasses another person or points out mistakes in front of others. People are

sensitive to how their actions make other people feel. "Face" is the desire to not look bad in the eyes of other

people. A recent survey of people in China said that 87% of the public believe that the idea of "saving face" is

very important in their lives.

Saving face is important, but it still does not solve problems like the pollution in Liang's village. Perhaps a

solution can be found soon. This will certainly "save face" for those who put factories in the villages, and it will

also save the lives of people like Liang.

Life in China's Cancer Villages


1. Where did the pollution come from in Liang's village?

A. farms

B. stores

C. fast food restaurants

D. chemical factories

2. Which kinds of pollution affected Liang?

A. radioactive and soil

B. air and water

C. land and trash

D. noise and light

3. What kind of government is in China?

A. monarchy

B. socialism

C. democracy

D. communism

4. Approximately how many people live in China?

A. 250 million

B. 500 million

C. 150 million

D. 50 million

5. When did people start getting sick from the toxic factories in China?

A. the 1960s

B. the 1970s

C. the 1980s

D. the 1990s

6. Many children are getting leukemia in China.

A. True

B. False



7. What does leukemia affect?

A. the heart

B. the blood

C. the brain

D. the lungs

8. What kind of animal is mentioned in the article?

A. pandas

B. dogs

C. cows

D. cats

Liang feels bad about the changes in his village. Pretend that you are Liang. Write a formal letter to his

children. Describe how you think that the village might have been before the factories came there. Also describe

how Liang feels about the changes in his village.

Describe a situation where you find out that one of your friends has made a big mistake. What would you do to

help your friend "save face"? Do you think that this concept could help people in western countries too?



A Girl from Uganda Fights HIV

By Colleen Messina

Annabelle felt sad and nervous as she waited for her test results. She felt much more scared than you do when you

wait for the results of a test in one of your classes at school. Annabelle was finding out whether she tested positive

for HIV.

Annabelle is only 11 years old, but she has faced many challenges. She became an orphan when she lost both of

her parents to AIDS. Unfortunately, she tested positive for HIV. Annabelle learned that she got the virus when her

mother breastfed her. This is called perinatal transmission. Even though there was a drug that could have prevented

the virus from infecting Annabelle, her mother did not receive the medicine. Annabelle is receiving treatment for

her illness, but her condition does not have a cure.

Annabelle is not alone in Uganda. Thousands of children there are infected with HIV. Approximately 110,000

children in her country are living with HIV/AIDS. Many are not receiving proper treatment for their condition.

People with HIV often do not have symptoms for many years, but at some point, symptoms do appear. They might

lose weight. They might have a dry cough or a fever. They have spots on their tongues and in their mouths and

throats. It might seem like the person has the flu. During this stage of the disease, they will test positive for the

HIV virus.

After living with the HIV for a period of time, the person develops AIDS. AIDS is caused by the HIV virus. AIDS

stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. There is no cure for HIV or AIDS. The virus destroys a cell in

the body that is important for defense. The HIV virus infects the immune system and the vital organs of those who

contract it.

After enough of these cells are destroyed, the person develops full-blown AIDS. The person's body can no longer

fight infectious diseases. About half of the people who have HIV develop AIDS within ten years. During this stage,

the person's immune system breaks down. Glands in the person's neck and armpits may swell. The person becomes

vulnerable to many infections.

Many children with AIDS live in Sub-Saharan Africa in countries like Uganda. Uganda is about twice the size of

Pennsylvania. It is completely surrounded by land, but it does have several large lakes. Many people make a living

through agriculture because of Uganda's tropical climate. They are able to farm because of the fertile soil and

regular rainfall through out the year. Uganda also has many mineral resources, such as copper and cobalt, as well

as reserves of natural gas and oil. The people of Uganda are working hard to help children like Annabelle who are


Annabelle has a new reason to have hope. A family in the United States wants to adopt Annabelle. They know that

she is HIV-positive, but they want to help her anyway. Soon, she will fly to her new country and her new family.

They have learned how to help her deal with her disease. They will give Annabelle medication two times a day.

They will take her to a doctor for checkups about four times a year. The only time they will have to be especially

careful is if Annabelle cuts herself because the virus is transmitted through body fluids like blood. Then, they will

wear rubber gloves for protection. Annabelle will eat a healthy diet to support her immune system.

Annabelle's new family wants to help her remember her culture. Ugandans have a rich culture. Its history goes

back for hundreds of years. The country has many different tribes, and each tribe has its own traditions. Each tribe

has its own distinctive dances and music. Almost every tribe uses drums in its music and rituals. Annabelle will

always remember the sounds of drums during tribal ceremonies. The drums were made from animal skins from

goats and cows. Annabelle will take a drum from her tribe to her new home in America.

Annabelle is lucky. Many children with HIV still struggle in Uganda. But for Annabelle, her biggest worry may be

her test scores at her new school in the United States.



A Girl from Uganda Fights HIV


1. What is Annabelle waiting for at the beginning of the article?

A. a test for HIV

B. a test result in her class

C. her mother to pick her up at school

D. a school bus

2. Where is the country of Uganda located?

A. in Europe

B. in Asia

C. in South America

D. in Africa

3. HIV symptoms sometimes do not show up for years.

A. True

B. False

4. What is one way that the HIV virus is transmitted?

A. through the air

B. through body fluids like blood

C. through hand contact

D. no one knows

5. What is the term for someone who has lost both of his or her parents?

A. a farmer

B. an immigrant

C. a Republican

D. an orphan

6. Where is Annabelle's new family?

A. Uganda

B. the United States

C. Ethiopia

D. Great Britain

7. Why is it important that Annabelle eats a good diet?

A. to support her immune system

B. to keep from getting bored

C. to save money

D. to help her play sports

8. Which of the following is an antonym for the word "distinctive" in paragraph 8?

A. common

B. special

C. unique

D. extraordinary



Write a letter to Annabelle and give her some points on taking school exams. Describe two things that help you

do well on tests in school. Tell her what your favorite subject is, and ask her something about the same subject

at her school.

Pretend that you are helping Annabelle pack a suitcase to go to the United States. Write a description of five

items that she would bring with her to her new home. Include at least 2 items that would help remind her of her

culture in Africa.



A Guatemalan Girl Gets Enough to Eat

By Colleen Messina

Eight-year-old Mirtala patted the earth around the base of the tree she planted. She looked at her thumb to see if it

was green yet. Her mother told her that having a green thumb would help their family. Mirtala liked planting trees.

The green leaves tickled her chin and made Mirtala laugh with joy. The work she did helped her family with some

big challenges.

Mirtala's family started to have problems last year when her father became sick. He went to the hospital in a city

far from their small village in Guatemala. Her mother washed clothes for her neighbors to earn money for food, but

it wasn't enough. Her mother said, "I told God to please help me because my husband is sick in the hospital and my

children are hungry." Mirtala's mother was very worried about her family. After all, she had twelve children to


One day, some visitors came to the village with a new idea. The area needed new trees so the soil would not wash

away. The project was called "reforestation." The people in charge of reforestation needed workers to plant the

trees. Mirtala's family needed food and work until her father was well. So, that is how Mirtala's family got their

new jobs and a steady supply of delicious food. In exchange for their work, her family receives rice, beans, corn,

sardines, oil, and medicine. Mirtala is grateful because she remembers many nights when she went to bed hungry.

The workers planted over 5,000 trees. The job did not seem like work to Mirtala. She liked to work in the rich,

black soil. It was fun to get her hands dirty. Even Mirtala's mother liked planting trees. It helped her feel better

about her husband. Her family had food. The children were healthier. Their stomachs don't growl at night anymore.

Soon, Mirtala's father will come home from the hospital. Then, when he is strong enough, he will help plant trees,


Many children in Latin America and around the world do not have enough to eat. Approximately 854 million

people are hungry. About 10 million children under the age of 5 die every year because of problems caused by lack

of food. Hungry children have other problems besides a gnawing, empty feeling in their stomachs. They feel tired.

They get sick easily. Even when they do get more to eat, they may have more health problems later. The lack of

proper vitamins and minerals affects their growth in many ways. They may have more health problems for the rest

of their lives. Hungry children would be overjoyed to have someone tell them to eat their veggies!

Hunger is a big problem in Mirtala's country of Guatemala. About 57 percent of the people are poor. Over half of

the children who are under five are malnourished. Their bodies are starving for the proper nutrition. Even though it

is a small country, Guatemala has the highest level of malnutrition in children of any country in Latin America.

Guatemala is only the size of Tennessee, and it has had lots of challenges because of its location and geography. It

is mountainous except for its southern coast that borders the Pacific Ocean. The mountains are cold and dry. The

lowlands are tropical with hot, humid climates. The country exports coffee and bananas. The country's economy

has been affected by many natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes. These disasters have been very hard

on the economy and the people of Guatemala. In 2005, Hurricane Stan killed more than 1,500 people. Most deaths

were caused by the flooding and mudslides from the storm.

The Guatemalan people have learned to live with these challenges throughout their long history. Many

Guatemalan citizens descended from the Mayan peoples. The ancient Mayan civilization flourished there until the

Spanish took over in 1523. Later, Guatemala gained its independence. Guatemala has had a great deal of political

problems. This instability has made it more difficult for the country to solve its problems.

In spite of recent turmoil, the people of Guatemala honor their Mayan roots. The ancient Mayans were brilliant

and powerful. They thrived for over three thousand years and were amazing architects. The Mayans were

responsible for many unique architectural ruins. Tourists go to Guatemala to see magnificent palaces and pyramids.

Mayan culture also includes exotic, hand-embroidered clothing. The tunics, capes, and skirts are colorful. Each

village has its own designs and details. The emblems on the clothing have religious and magical meaning. Mirtala's

family wears their colorful clothing with pride.



Guatemala is an alluring country with a rich culture and history. Its nickname is the "country of eternal spring." Its

people are hoping for more ideas to help them feed their families. Mirtala will look forward to spring again next

year. The trees that she planted will be bigger. And maybe next year her thumb will really turn green.

A Guatemalan Girl Gets Enough to Eat


1. What state is the size is of Guatemala?

A. California

B. Alaska

C. Texas

D. Tennessee

2. What was Mirtala planting in the beginning of the article?

A. a tree

B. a shrub

C. a bulb

D. a flower

3. More than half the population of Guatemala is poor.

A. False

B. True

4. How many children were in Mirtala's family?

A. six

B. twelve

C. eight

D. two

5. Which culture existed long ago in Guatemala?

A. Egyptian

B. Mayan

C. Greek

D. none of the above

6. What is the name of the project that was happening in Mirtala's village?

A. reforestation

B. woodestation

C. treeifying

D. aeration

7. Which natural disasters were mentioned in the article?

A. earthquakes and hurricanes

B. volcanoes and earthquakes

C. plague and sickness

D. typhoons and tornadoes



8. What is one item that Guatemala exports?

A. rice

B. wheat

C. grapes

D. coffee

Write a silly short story about a person in a village whose thumb turned green. Be sure to use adjectives that

describe all five senses in your story so that it seems lively and real.

If your family did not have enough to eat, how would this affect your daily life? If you had to grow a garden to

have more food to eat, what kinds of fruits and vegetables would you plant that would grow well in the area

where you live?


Homelessness in America

By Colleen Messina

Looking at this picture of Liz Murray, you see a bright-eyed girl

with a dazzling smile and sleek, dark hair. You would never guess

that her life story would be the subject of a TV movie called

Homeless to Harvard. Liz's tremendous accomplishment is unusual,

but she believes that everyone can overcome challenges. She hopes

that her story will make people more aware of the problem of

homelessness in America.

Liz was born in the Bronx, New York. Her parents both used

drugs. They were poor, and both of her parents had HIV. Sometimes,

her mother bought drugs instead of food for her children. Liz began

supporting them when she was 10 years old. Her mother was blind,

too. She died when Liz was just 15. Her father moved to a homeless

shelter, and Liz took to the streets.

Liz faced a big decision. She could follow in her mother's

footsteps, or she could follow her dreams. What do you think you

might do if you were homeless at age 15? Liz did not give up. She

spent time at friends' houses, often sleeping on their couches at odd

times of day. She sometimes slept on a bus at night. She had one

good friend to help her through these hard times, but both girls

suffered from difficult circumstances. Liz wanted a change. She

decided that education was the key to her future success.

Liz finally went to a school in Greenwich Village called the

Humanities Preparatory School. She started high school much later

than most students, but she never gave up. She had a wonderful

teacher and mentor who helped her work hard and achieve excellent

grades. With her fire and determination, Liz graduated from high

school in 2 years. Her grades were so good that she won a New York

Times scholarship. Soon after that, Liz was accepted into Harvard


Today, Liz is a polished young woman who gives inspirational

speeches about her experiences. She is humble about the amazing

feats she has accomplished. In addition to the movie about her life,

Liz also has written a book. She plans on completing her college

education. But most importantly, Liz wants to help others reach their

true potential.

Liz still mourns the loss of her home and family. She understands

the problems that homeless people face. She knows that people

become homeless for many reasons. Sometimes, they lose their jobs

and can't pay for their homes. Sometimes, unexpected medical bills

put a family's budget in turmoil. Others have problems with drugs or

alcohol that makes it impossible for them to keep their jobs. Many

good, hardworking people end up losing their homes by

circumstances beyond their control.

According to the 1994 Homeless Assistance Act, homelessness is

defined as a person who "lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate

night-time residence." Some organizations estimate that nearly 3.5

million people experienced homelessness in 2007 and that 39% of

them are children. While it is hard to track and record the actual

numbers of homeless people, millions of men, women, and children

face this challenge each year.

Homelessness is harder on children than anyone else. They face

traumatic events each day and uncertainty in every area of their lives.

They get sick twice as much as children in regular homes. They have

more infections and stomach problems than children in stable homes.

They don't get enough to eat. These children also have emotional

problems. Imagine how you would feel if you didn't know where you

would sleep each night or that your family would be torn apart at any

moment. This kind of stress makes homeless children lose hope that

their lives will improve.

There are some things that you can do to help homeless people.

Many communities have homeless shelters that accept donations of

food or money. You can also collect warm clothes and give them to

the shelter. The most important thing you can do for a homeless

person is to treat them with respect because many of them are

homeless because of unexpected circumstances. Liz Murray

remembers how small acts of kindness made an enormous difference

for her. The teacher who believed in her helped her change her life.

Not every person can be like Liz Murray, but she hopes that her

example will inspire others to help the homeless people in America.

Liz believes that the most important part of her message is that each

individual can decide what to do with his or her life. She says, "The

main message is that your life is what you make it. And no matter

how many things are thrown in front of you, there is always a way to

get past them so long as you recognize the power that you have."


Homelessness in America


1. Which university did Liz Murray attend?



C. Columbia

D. Harvard

2. How old was Liz when she became homeless?

A. 10

B. 15

C. 20

D. 5

3. How many year(s) did it take Liz to complete high school?

A. five

B. one

C. four

D. two

4. What is one estimate of the number of homeless people in


A. 1 million

B. 4 million

C. 3 million

D. 3.5 million

6. When was the Homeless Assistance Act passed?

A. 1990

B. 1984

C. 2004

D. 1994

7. Which segment of the population is harmed more than anyone

else by homelessness?

A. women

B. children

C. men

D. pets

8. Which of the following is an antonym for the word "turmoil"

in paragraph 6?

A. chaos

B. turbulence

C. unrest

D. order

Write an advertisement for a newspaper about the things that a

homeless shelter needs for its residents. You can also draw a colorful

picture as part of the ad. Use words and descriptions that will inspire

the newspaper readers to really want to help the homeless shelter.

You could also include a personal story of a homeless person in your


5. Some people are homeless because of unexpected


A. False

B. True


Write a letter to Liz Murray and tell her how you feel about her life.

Does her life inspire you? Do you admire her? How has learning

about her story changed you?



Don't Bathe in the Holy River, Bapu!

By Colleen Messina

Caption: People drinking water from the river Ganges during a

ceremony in 2005.

Ramu and his grandfather picked their way down the hard wet steps.

The swirling river water awaited them. Ramu usually looked forward

to visiting the river. But today Ramu was worried. His grandfather,

who was growing more forgetful as his hair turned whiter, may have

forgotten his mother's message.

"Remember, no more bathing in the river, Bapu!" she called after

them as they left their tiny house. Bapu was her loving nickname for

her father. Ramu also called the old man Bapu.

Ramu knew that his mother had heard that their dazzling holy river, the Ganges, was more polluted than ever. The

river that Indians thought could purify sin was very dirty now. Ramu's grandfather, like many Hindus, loved to

bathe in its waters. He stepped down the concrete steps each day to visit the Ganges. He thought of the river as a


"Why do you think that the Ganges River is a goddess, Bapu?" Ramu had asked one day as they dangled their

brown legs into the brown water.

Even though their legs were both brown, they looked very different. One pair was spindly, wiry, and wrinkled.

The other pair was chubby, smooth, and dimpled. Can you guess which legs belonged to 10-year-old Ramu?

"In an ancient Indian myth, the Ganges River used to be in heaven," said the old man. "A king here on Earth

needed help. His relatives had perished in a fire. He wanted the river to purify their ashes. Then his loved ones

could get to heaven. The river came down and helped the king's relatives."

"So that is why people scatter ashes on the water?" asked Ramu. He had seen this custom done many times.

"Yes, our river is important to our faith and our culture," said Bapu. He grinned, and his crinkly laugh lines got

deeper around his dark eyes. Ramu loved his grandfather's smiling eyes!

The two looked over the water. The sun sparkled across its brown rippling expanse. Ramu could see trash

floating in the distance. The water did not look clean. This made him sad. It made Bapu sad, too.

The old man looked with longing at the water. He started to put his foot down, but Ramu stopped him.

"Bapu, remember what Mama said," Ramu said as he tugged on his grandpa's arm.

"Yes, I know. I can't bathe in the water anymore. This makes me so unhappy. I have dipped into this sacred

water for decades. Now, factories dump waste into my river. Farmers use pesticides that get into my river. DDT is

poison to my river!" said Bapu. He brushed his hand over his eyes. DDT can cause cancer.

"It's OK, Bapu, this river will get better. The Indian government is helping. They are building water treatment

plants. These will make the water clean," exclaimed Ramu. His eyes were shining. He had hope for the beautiful


Ramu thought of the water's long journey. It started in an icy cave. The cave was in the Himalaya Mountains.

It flowed through scruffy mountain vegetation. At lower elevations, it reached forests. It danced through cow

pastures. Those lucky cows! People in India worshipped them! The river finally ended up in the Bay of Bengal of

the Indian Ocean. Millions of people benefited from the once-lovely Ganges River!



Ramu put his hand on his grandfather's arm. He had a wonderful idea. Maybe he could help the river when he

grew up! Maybe he could be a scientist and invent new ways to purify water. Maybe he could help people

understand how harmful the pollution is. It doesn't just make rivers dirty. It makes people like his Bapu very sad


"Let's go home, Bapu," said Ramu. "And don't worry about the river. When I grow up, I want to figure out

how to keep our rivers in India clean and sparkling, and then you can bathe in the Ganges all you want!"

Don't Bathe in the Holy River, Bapu!


1. According to Hindu legends, where did the Ganges used to be?

A. in heaven

B. in a cave

C. in the ocean

D. none of the above

2. Who needed the river's help in the Indian myth?

A. a child

B. a queen

C. a king

D. a president

3. Who told Bapu not to go into the river anymore?

A. his teacher

B. his father

C. Ramu's mother

D. the Indian government

4. What do farmers use that gets into the water that is poisonous?





5. Which ocean does the Ganges River end up in?

A. the Indian Ocean

B. the Black Sea

C. the Atlantic Ocean

D. the Pacific Ocean

6. How old was Ramu in the story?

A. 10

B. 12

C. 15

D. 5



7. The pig is thought of as a sacred animal in India.

A. True

B. False

8. How many people benefited from the Ganges River?

A. 80,000

B. 1,000

C. millions

D. trillions

Ramu had fun with his grandfather. Describe one experience that you have had with one of your grandparents

or another special relative.

If you were in charge of the rivers in India, what would you do to make sure the rivers were kept clean? Would

you pass laws? Would you educate people about pollution?

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