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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Appalachia~"There is No Hope Here" by Richard Biggs ~ Poverty and Hopelessness in the USA

Published by:  Creative Space
Available:  eBook
Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble
Genre:  Fiction/Inspirational

"There Is No Hope Here" is a true story (narrative non-fiction) about Julie Holland, who in 1995 began ministering to the poor in the rugged Appalachian Mountains of eastern Kentucky. The conditions she saw made her determined to help, so after spending a year delivering food and clothing, she decided to seek help with her mission. Soon, others joined and the Mission of Hope was born. There Is No Hope Here is marked by sadness and humor as a glimpse is offered into the eyes and souls of Appalachian poverty. It's the inspirational story of a woman's walk with God as she struggles with a life-threatening illness and tremendous cultural boundaries.

Through it all, she prevailed and today the Mission of Hope is one of most respected Christian charities in the southeast, serving over 17,000 people annually and offering college scholarships, along with mentoring programs. And it all began with one woman's determination.

Meet the Author:

Richard Biggs is 73, father of three and grandfather of 8, and a follower of Christ. He retired as an electrical engineer and has been a freelance writer for over a decade. He spent three years researching this book, his first entrance into narrative non-fiction.

The Dame's Word On It :
Some months back, I came across a note somewhere about Richard Biggs's book having to do with Appalachia and the poverty there.  I have no idea today where or when or how I found it.  I only know that the book so moved me upon an initial introduction that I had to read it in full, and wanted to review it for my readers.  So, I contacted Mr. Biggs and began an email conversation with him about my roots in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, and how I was extremely interested in the subject of Appalachian families of the "back-country."  Mr. Biggs was kind enough to send me his book, and I spent several  hours lost in the poetic lilt of his writing, and in the story of a woman who left it all behind to care for those who are lost.

Unless you've seen a bit of poverty alongside the twists and turns of a mountain road in Appalachia, you can't imagine how people could live in some of the conditions they do.  What we've heard of as a "burned out" house, a "broken down" shack, and even "trailer trash," didn't just come from the hateful jaws of an idiot jester, though it's been used in a vicious manner to slam and taint others cruelly.  These things are often the reality of living conditions in Appalachia.  Conditions that literally generations of children grow up in and perpetuate for lack of hope they can break the cycle.

When Julie Holland first visited the back-woods Appalachian people, she wasn't prepared for them and the poverty she encountered.  She wasn't prepared for their pride or their suspiciousness of outsiders.  She wasn't prepared for the fear she felt. And, she wasn't prepared for what she saw:  the trash and filth they lived in, their look of hopelessness, their sense of humor amidst the chaos of their lives, and their faith despite all odds. 

She came to understand that people growing up in poverty have not been taught the very basics of life skills, and often cannot pull themselves out of the oppressions of destitution and hopelessness to function in what we may consider a normal way.  Many have tremendously low self-esteem, live with violence, and incessant hunger. Children raise children. These are some of the off-shoots of poverty and deprivation.  And, these imprints are handed down from generation to generation; difficult to overcome, but not impossible with direction from those who will commit to helping them.  After time, Julie realized she needed help.

Ms Holland's commitment to do something about it was herculean.  When she founded the Mission of Hope, it was like throwing a pebble in an ocean of need.  "There is No Hope Here" is her story as much as it is the Mission's story and the story of those she touched in her journey.

I think if you read this book, it will make such a difference in your life.  I came away in silence, and I came away in tears.  I came away remembering that it's not supposed to be our primary purpose as a Nation to care for the people of other countries.  It's our responsibility and our commitment according to our earliest recorded national documents and creeds to care for those in need in our own country.  And, it's a part of our Christian heritage to "reach out to our neighbors before we extend our boundaries" to other places.  

In light of this new political race, Mr. Biggs shakes his head, as do I, and we wonder if the candidates really know where the poor are and how to lift them out of inhumane conditions IN THIS COUNTRY !  It's at least as big a question we need to face as the national budget!

With that in mind,  please take a minute to view this video made by Mr. Biggs showing the children and people of Appalachia.  It goes hand-in-hand with his book.

Click the link here:                            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YADzPbmfc5k



Candy @ So little time...

Wow! What an amazing story! And you're so right, we should take care of our own first. Thank you for sharing this with us!

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