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Rev. Franklin Graham, president of the evangelical Christian aid group Samaritan’s Purse, wrote a newsletter that was sent out on behalf of Samaritan’s Purse following a devastating fire in Hooper Bay, Alaska in 2006. The following is an excerpt:

DEAR FRIENDS,

While I was working out of our Alaskan office in August, a huge fire raged through a poor Eskimo village on the Bering Sea. The blaze gutted the small town of Hooper Bay, burning 35 buildings to the ground, including 14 homes, the grocery store, and the community school.

Like much of rural Alaska, Hooper Bay is as poor as any Third World village I’ve ever been in. Most of the homes are weathered-gray wooden shacks without running water or sewer. Bathrooms consist of five-gallon “honey buckets” that have to be hauled to the local landfill. Drinking water is collected from local ponds. The conditions are really appalling.

Most of the 1,100 Yupik Eskimos in Hooper Bay survive on fish, seal, and berries, which they store up in the summer. There is no hospital or doctor. The village is only accessible by plane or boat, and the closest community of any size is Bethel, 160 air miles away.

I lived in bush Alaska for five years. I had a honeybucket for 4 1/2 of those years. My first year, I lived in teacher housing that was condemned. The next house I lived in was eventually abandoned because of the toxic black mold that began creeping up the insides of the house during the last two years I lived there. I had no running water until my fifth year, and even then had a “sink bucket” in the kitchen that had to be emptied outside when full. It was an adventure. I was young and happy to endure these hardships as just part of life, at least at first. After five years of living in the bush, I couldn’t take it any more and moved to Anchorage.

During my five years in the bush, I would tell people how I lived and they would say, “How could you live like that?” My answer was always, “It’s amazing what you get used to.”

It wasn’t until I ready Rev. Graham’s description of the deplorable conditions in rural Alaska that I realized that it is wrong to expect anyone to live like this. Alaska is one of the richest states in our country. We pride ourselves in using our natural resources to retain our independence from taxes. Why should “much of rural Alaska” live in poverty so great that it is likened to a third-world country?

I began to imagine myself in charge. What would I do if I had the power of the State at my disposal? How would I want people to live under my watch? I began to feel ashamed that the Governor can simply ignore the fact that the majority of people who live outside of Anchorage, Fairbanks and the Southeast Panhandle are being left out. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not Sarah Palin’s fault for the problems that exist in rural Alaska. But it is her problem. It’s her responsibility. It’s her duty.

When Governor Palin spoke recently during her State of the State address, she said,

When I took my oath of office to serve as your Governor, remember, I swore to steadfastly and doggedly guard the interests of this great state like a grizzly with cubs, as a mother naturally guards her own. Alaska, as a statewide family, we’ve got to fight for each other, not against and not let external, sensationalized distractions draw us off course.

As an exciting year of unpredictable change begins, we, too, have our work cut out for us. And we’re all in this together. Just like our musk ox, they circle up to protect their future when they are challenged. We’ve got to do the same. So now, united, protecting and progressing under the great North Star, let’s get to work.

She calls Alaska a family and she considers herself the mother of that family. So, how could a mother leave her most needy and downtrodden children to fend for themselves? How could she let some of her children live comfortably and luxuriously while others have to fight just to stay alive? How can she look herself in the mirror and not feel ashamed?

Governor Palin has been aware of the mounting crisis in rural Alaska since fall of 2008, when Walt Monegan and the Native community brought it to her attention. How she could wait until now to act is beyond me. It is reprehensible that people feel comfortable defending her lack of leadership when people are starving, freezing and living in third-world conditions in her own state.

We need a Governor who will not only react to crises when they happen, but who will work to prevent catastrophes like this from happening. Even further, we need a Governor who will do whatever it takes to make sure all our citizens are protected and cared for, every day of the year. No one in my state, or in ANY state in the United States for that matter, should have to live in third-world conditions. This is our nation’s, our state’s and our Governor’s greatest shame.

Special thanks goes to Gryphen from The Immoral Minority for posting Rev. Graham’s newsletter.

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