Jakarta | A catholic priest from the island of Java in Indonesia who has woken up from a 17 month long coma has converted himself to Islam after the man claims Allah spoke to him and showed him “the beauty of the heavens”.
The 87-year old priest from Spain has lived and preached on the island for more then 43 years and is fluent in Javanese and various dialects of the different ethnic groups of the island and is a well known and respected figure amongst all religious groups of the area.
The man who has suffered a cardiac arrest while helping local volunteers to fix the roof of his own church and fell an incredible two stories high has managed to survive and come out of his coma, in brittle shape, yet a changed man.
Priest Eduardo Vincenzo Maria Gomez weeks before his tragic accident
“I know nothing of Islam. Never once have I read the Quran but God spoke to me and asked me to follow him to the heavens and the Holy light shone through my entire being and behold the golden gates of heaven appeared before me and God told me his name and it was Allah” told the newly convert to a journalist of the Kalimantan Press.
The man who miraculously suffers no spinal injury should be able to walk soon, admits the physician who took care of him at South Jakarta’s Metropolitan Medical Centre. “This must be the strongest 80-year old I have ever seen. His bones should be smashed to pieces” ponders Jim Won May, who has practiced medecine for over twenty years.
His conversion to Islam took most of his church followers by surprise, but interestingly enough, already half of his christian followers have showed interest in converting to Islam. “If Allah is the true God, I don’t want to be misled in the wrong direction on judgement day. I trust Father Eduardo. We all believe in him” explains one of his followers.
The priest who is still under medical attention has already ordered the construction of a new mosque and his followers are already hard at work to find the funds necessary for the task. “We owe it to Father Eduardo for all he has done for us” comments one of the devotees of the old catholic church, that is now for sale.
A man who has lived in North America for 46 years now says he has had enough and would like to come back to Kenya to be with his family.
Timothy Majanja, 67, left Kenya for Canada in 1968 and now lives in squalor in the United States after losing his job 21 years ago.
Speaking to the Nation in Atlanta on Thursday, Mr Majanja said he moved to the state of Georgia in the United States in 1993.
“I have been leading a miserable life here and it is high time I left this country,” he said in an interview on Memorial Drive in Atlanta, Georgia.
Mr Majanja, however, said he is stuck because he lost all his documents and cannot travel.
He appealed to the Kenyan Government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to help him out.
In 1973, he said, he was recruited by the Canadian government into the prestigious Royal Canadian Mounted Police, where he served before venturing into politics.
He run for political office as a city representative in Calgary, Alberta, before unsuccessfully contesting a vacant mayoral seat.
Mr Majanja, however, declined to disclose when or why he left the Canadian police service.
“That matter is confidential,” he said.
After relocating to Atlanta, he worked for a transport company before losing his job.
“I lost my driver’s license and all the other documents which I had kept in a safe deposit at a local bank,” he said.
Mr Majanja said he has sought help several times from the US and Canadian governments without success.
“I have no single document and can’t travel anywhere,” he said, adding, “I appeal to the Kenyan embassy to give me some travel documents so I can visit my relatives back home.”
MARRIED TO CANADIAN
During the interview with the Nation, he showed photos of his sojourn in Canada in which he looked young and energetic.
“I married a Canadian lady and we had a son, but now I can’t even travel there to visit them,” he said.
“I thought I was strong enough, but now I need help,” added Majanja, who looked weak and a pale shadow of his former self.
Though hardly reported due to the stigma associated with homelessness, drug addiction or mental illness, cases of destitute Kenyans living in the United States have risen in recent years.
In 2012, the body of a homeless Kenyan was discovered in a lake near Boston, Massachusetts.
Early this year, police in Atlanta found a homeless and mentally unstable Kenyan man in a forest in Decatur, Georgia.
The authorities handed the man over to the pastor of a Kenyan community church who asked the congregation to raise money for his upkeep and eventual repatriation to Kenya.
How can you help Timothy Majanja, Today?
When Mr Gulam Dewji, a Tanzanian businessman called his son Mohammed to come back to Africa and join a family business about 14 years ago, little did he know that this would create a multi-million dollar business.
Being a young graduate of Georgetown University in Washington D.C, Mohammed’s interest was in building a career in international business and finance.
Life hardships in a foreign land left him with no option but to heed his father’s call to come back home. He has now built a strong company.
Like any other graduate, Dewji Jr, popularly known as Mo, got a job at Wall Street after graduating, he toldForbes magazine.
The American biweekly published his photo on its front cover of its June 1, 2013 edition.
At Wall Street, Mo worked 100-hour weeks and earned an annual salary of $40,000, with an added bonus of $20,000.
But a good chunk of that money went to taxes, making life difficult for him.
“Thirty per cent went to taxes, $30,000 to pay my rent in Manhattan and what I was left with was barely enough to build the life that I wanted…I asked my father to give me more money but, being a practical man, he simply said he would not send me any money and that there was opportunity for me to come back to Tanzania,” he recalls.
So he returned to Africa in 1999, heralding a new era at Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania Limited (METL).
During that time, the company was a trading house that mostly dealt with commodities with an annual revenue of $26 million.
His first move then was to seize opportunities as they arose and privatisation was one of those things he decided to benefit from.
“I recognised that there was tremendous opportunity for business growth particularly in the manufacturing sector,” he says.
Then he also thought about starting up an edible oil refinery.
“Naturally, my father felt this was a risky move so I borrowed $1 million from my father and bought a soap plant that manufactured one tonne per hour,” he said.
At present, that factory produces 20 tonnes an hour. He then proceeded to buy an edible oil refinery with a capacity of 60 tonnes a day. With time and further investments, its capacity today is at 2,200 tonnes a day.
Mo managed to repay that loan to his father, something that gave him (his father) the confidence in the way forward in terms of growth for METL.
“For him, it was a huge shift from what he knew as a trading business that he started from scratch, to moving towards a more corporate structure and vision for METL as a group of companies. Today, our projected revenue for 2013 is just over a billion dollars in Tanzania alone, we employ more than 24,000 people,” Mo told Forbes.
The company has diversified in trading, manufacturing, agriculture, financial services, real estate, mobile telephony and distribution.
In Tanzania alone, the group has over 31 industries in manufacturing ranging from textiles and detergents, to edible oils, plastics and grain milling.
In agriculture, the company owns over 60,000 hectares. It also grows cotton. It also gins, spins, weaves, processes and prints – producing 100 million metres of cloth/year.
“The revenue from our group of companies constitutes a little over 3 per cent of the GDP of Tanzania and employs 5 per cent of the formal employment sector,” he says.
But he is not satisfied yet. The company which also has operations in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Dubai and moving into Uganda, is looking into having a strong presence in East and Central Africa.
“Our vision is that by 2018 the METL Group will have an annual revenue of $5 billion and employ 40,000 people,” he says.
Thus in short, the company has grown 30 fold in the last 14 years. “If someone asks me who is smarter between my father and I, my one answer is that it is my father! Why? Because to make money from money is easier than to make money from nothing,” he says.
Apart from business, 38-year-old Mo is a politician. He is the Singida Urban MP.
Tulsi also known as basil leaves, is a fairly common plant in Indian households. Considered holy by many religions, the tulsi plant is revered for its divine properties.
Besides praying to the plant, a number of people advice including the leaves and roots of the plant in various medical decoctions.
With immense benefits right from clear skin to dissolving kidney stones, tulsi is tonic for the entire body. Here are the top 10 benefits of tulsi.
Cures a fever: Tulsi has very potent germicidal, fungicidal, anti-bacterial and anti-biotic properties that are great for resolving fevers. It has the potential to cure any fever right from those caused due to common infections to those caused due to malaria as well. In ayurveda, it is strongly advised that a person suffering from fever should have a decoction made of tulsi leaves. In case of a fever boil a few leaves of tulsi with powdered cardamom in half a litre of water( The proportion of tulsi to cardamom powder should be in the ratio 1:0.3). Let it reduce to half its total volume. Mix this decoction with sugar and milk. Sip every two to three hours. This remedy is especially good for children.
Beats diabetes: leaves of holy basil are packed with antioxidants and essential oils that produce eugenol, methyl eugenol and caryophyllene. Collectively these substances help the pancreatic beta cells (cells that store and release insulin) function properly. This in turn helps increase sensitivity to insulin. Lowering one’s blood sugar and treating diabetes effectively. An added advantage is that the antioxidants present in the leaves help beat the ill effects of oxidative stress.
Protects the heart: Tulsi has a powerful anti-oxidant component called Eugenol. This compound helps protect the heart by keeping one’s blood pressure under control and lowering his/her cholesterol levels. Chewing a few leaves of tulsi on an empty stomach everyday can both prevent and protect any heart ailments.
Beats stress: According to a study conducted by the Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow, India, tulsi helps to maintain the normal levels of the stress hormone – cortisol in the body. The leaf also has powerful adaptogen properties (also known as anti-stress agents). It helps sooth the nerves, regulates blood circulation and beats free radicals that are produced during an episode of stress. People who have high stress jobs can chew about 12 leaves of tulsi twice a day to beat stress naturally.
Dissolves kidney stones: The holy basil being a great diuretic and detoxifier is great for the kidneys. Tulsi helps reduce the uric acid levels in the blood (one of the main reasons for kidney stones is the presence of excess uric acid in the blood), helps cleanse the kidneys, the presence of acetic acid and other components in its essential oils helps in breaking down kidney stones and its painkiller effect helps dull down the pain of kidney stones. To relieve kidney stones one must have the juice of tulsi leaves with honey, every day for six months to help wash out the stone from the kidney.
Beats cancer: With strong anti-oxidant and anti-carcinogenic properties tulsi has been found to help stop the progression of breast cancer and oral cancer (caused due to chewing tobacco). This is because its compounds restrict the flow of blood to the tumour by attacking the blood vessels supplying it. Have the extract of tulsi every day to keep these conditions at bay.
Helps to quit smoking: Tulsi is known to have very strong anti- stress compounds and is great to help one quit smoking. It helps by lowering the stress that may be involved in trying to quit smoking, or stress that leads to the urge to smoke. It also has a cooling effect on the throat just like menthol drops and helps control the urge to smoke by allowing the person to chew on something. Ayurveda relies heavily on tulsi leaves as a smoking cessation device. Keep some leaves with you and chew it whenever the urge to smoke arises. Another plus is that the antioxidant property of the leaves will help fight all the damage that arises out of years of smoking.
Keeps your skin and hair healthy and glowing: The holy basil has powerful purifying properties. When eaten raw, it purifies the blood giving the skin a beautiful glow, and prevents the appearance of acne and blemishes. Its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties are very effective in preventing breakouts on acne prone skin. Ayurvedic doctors say that this herb can cure difficult skin conditions like those caused due to ring worms and even leucoderma. Apart from all this, it helps in reducing itchiness of the scalp and helps to reduce hair fall. Mix the powder in coconut oil and apply regularly to the scalp to prevent hair fall. Eating tulsi leaves, drinking the juice, or adding its paste to a face pack can help cure skin and hair conditions.
Heals respiratory conditions: Tulsi has immunomodulatory (helps to modulate the immune system), antitussive (suppresses the cough center, reducing the amount of cough) and expectorant properties (helps expel phlegm from the chest), that make it a great relief for coughs, cold, and other respiratory disorders including chronic and acute bronchitis. Another great property of this leaf is that it has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties that help to beat the infection causing the respiratory problem. It also relieves congestion since it contains potent components like camphene, eugenol and cineole in its essential oils. Its anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory properties also help to treat allergic respiratory disorders.
Cures a headache: Tulsi helps to relieve headaches caused due to sinusitis, allergies, cold or even migraines. This is because it has pain relieving and decongestant properties, that help relieve the pain and resolve the root cause of the condition. If you are suffering from a headache, make a bowl of water that has been boiled with crushed tulsi leaves or tulsi extract. Cool the water till it is room temperature or bearably hot. Place a small towel in it, wring out the excess water and place this on your forehead to treat a headache. Alternatively you could dip a towel in plain warm water and add a few drops of tulsi extract to the towel for immediate relief.
These are just some benefits of the plant, other benefits include treatment for common colds, itchiness of the skin, treatment for insect bites, curing common conditions of the eye and as a herbal remedy for bad breath. So the text time you feel ill, try having a few leaves of tulsi. To know more about the health benefits of various everyday ingredients, check out our natural remedies page.
Frederick Hutson is a man who sees business opportunities in everything. By his own admission, this doesn’t always work out for the best. Hutson spent over four years in prison after getting busted for an opportunity he saw in drug trafficking, a huge market, and one that was as he saw it, ripe for disruption. Police busted him at his Vegas mail store, where he’d been reducing inefficiencies by rerouting marijuana through his Florida business via FedEx, UPS and DHL.
Hutson, who’d built several businesses before and after a stint in the Air Force, which he left with an honorable discharge, began meditating on new ideas soon after he started his 51-month sentence in 2007, aged 24. “I did my time that way,” he says. “While I was there I just saw how grossly inefficient the prison system was and there was just so many opportunities.”
A big gripe for the 2.3 million doing time in the US is keeping in touch with friends and family on the outside. There’s no internet in prison so all communication is through snail mail or the phone. Calls are often expensive and long distance. Relatives and friends, leading increasingly digitized lives, write less and don’t get around to sending photos for weeks on end.
“It was a pain point I experienced firsthand,” says Hutson. “I’m very close with my family and I knew they cared about me but even with knowing how much they cared about me they were still sometimes unable to send me photos.”
Transitioning from digital to analog is tough, says Hutson. It’s hard to sit down and write a letter now but simple to text or email. What if you created a website that printed out emails, texts or photos from your computer, Facebook or Instagram and mailed them for you in the plain white envelopes these institutions favored?
The idea for Pigeonly was born. Essentially, it’s a platform that centralizes the myriad state-level databases making it a quick search to find where an inmate is in the system – Hutson himself was moved eight times during his stay – as well as a way to communicate. “People get lost in the system all the time,” he explains. “We have attorneys contacting us trying to find their clients.”
Through its sub-brands, Fotopigeon, which sends digital prints to inmates and Telepigeon which lowers phone call rates through VoIP, Pigeonly is on track to be profitable on about $1 million in revenue in its first year following $2 million in seed financing from Silicon Valley investors. Hutson’s Las Vegas-based team has grown from two to twelve. Key to this was getting accepted to NewMe, a Sillicon Valley-based accelerator for underrepresented minorities. It was the only accelerator to accept Hutson, he says.
When he started as part of the winter 2013 cohort, he and his cofounder Alfonzo Brooks had already launched a version of Pigeonly while Hutson was still in his halfway house. They’d quickly picked up 2,000 customers by directly mailing inmates touting their services.
“We identified 500 people and sent them greeting cards saying here’s a product people can use to send you photographs. Three or four days after our cards landed we started seeing people show up on our website creating accounts and sending photos so we kept doing that,” says Hutson.
CEO Frederick Hutson
At NewMe Hutson started re-orienting the business from a few services to a searchable platform and began taking meetings with investors. “In the very beginning I was hesitant to even talk about my background but the question would always come up, well how do you know?” he says.
NewMe’s founder Angela Benton gave Hutson some advice. “She said, look some people are not going to vibe with you and they’re not going to be able to get on board with what you’re doing – there’s going to be a block because you’ve been in prison and you don’t look like the typical person they invest in,” he remembers.
When he focused instead on the people who were open and understood that his background was why he knew this problem exists he started gaining ground. “A lot of times a thing that can be perceived as a weakness actually turn into the greatest strength and for me it was that. It actually became the reason people invested – because I’d been there, and I know and understand this market better than anybody else,” he says.
Still, fundraising was no cakewalk, he says. “It can be hard because as an entrepreneur you feel like it’s your baby and when you talk to someone about your baby and they go, no that’s whack I’m not interested you can’t take that personal, you have to be able to talk to the next person with the same intensity and fervor,” he says.
Convincing investors to write a check for the first million was the hardest. “I probably talked to about 60 investors, and in our seed round we had six, so that gives you an idea of how many no’s you had to get to the six yes’s,” he says.
Hutson thinks prisons are a natural pool of entrepreneurs. “When you take away that seven percent or so that did something violent that people are afraid of, people who we need to have locked up, most of the other guys were selling drugs or involved in some kind of scam or did some kind of wire fraud, or white collar crime that was motivated by finances,” he says. “So you just really got the business model wrong, you got the product wrong, the goal was wrong but if you can apply that same drive and bottom line principles to something positive then now you have a viable business.”
He learned a lot from his fellow inmates inside. “In some facilities that the classes they have aren’t taught by people outside, they’re taught by other inmates,” he says. “So you’ll have a guy who has a white collar crime who might have embezzled 40 million dollars and he knows something about business because he ran some listed company and now he has a 36 month federal sentence for tax evasion – he’ll teach a class on how to form an LLP or start a balance sheet.”
Still, getting prisoners ready to reenter society isn’t a big priority, thinks Hutson. “Most institutions are geared around containment,” he says. “Most are based around ‘you don’t leave and you guys don’t kill each other while you’re here’ – that’s their priority number one.”
With reoffending rife – one study tracked 404,638 prisoners in 30 states after their release from prison in 2005 and found 68% were rearrested within three years – some organizations are already turning to entrepreneurship as a way forward. For example, the Houston-TX-based Prison Entrepreneurship Program, which trains around 250 prisoners a year in launching a business says instances of inmates reoffending once they’ve completed the course is only 5%.