Thomas A. Nazario and How He Founded The Forgotten International
Thomas A. Nazario came from a modest background. His mother was from Cuba and a seamstress, whilst his father was from Puerto Rico and worked as an auto mechanic. From an early age in New York City, he felt empathy for others who were poor – this was the start of his quest to understand why such a large percentage of people in the world are poverty-stricken. He always remembered as a child going out to a restaurant and seeing a mother with her own young child searching through a bin for food. This moment would continue to play on his mind as he attended public school in New York. Mr Nazario then went on to study at the John Jay College, completing an undergraduate degree in criminal justice and followed this by gaining a graduate degree at the University of New York.
The photo below shows Tom on the right with older brother Joe in NYC in 1951.
In 1970-71, when Mr Nazario was at college and graduate school, he worked with the New York City Knapp Commission, looking into corruption happening at the time in the city’s police department. Once he had completed his graduation from law school, Mr Nazario practiced criminal law. For two years, he was a public defender in San Francisco and spent a lot of his time helping the San Francisco Bar Association. He also spent time assisting the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) as well as Mexican American people with the Legal Defence and Educational Fund (LDF). This aimed to understand the problems regarding juvenile delinquency and educational deprivation.
Mr Nazario went back to the University of San Francisco to accept a Robert F. Kennedy Fellowship and further his work by initiating the ‘Street Law Project’, which continues to carry forward his efforts, helping young inner-city children in the San Francisco Bay area. Mr Nazario has a wide-ranging knowledge and expertise which he has attained over 35 years. He has concentrated on children’s issues and children’s rights, as well as trying to understand global poverty and why this problem still persists in the modern world. Furthermore, he has an excellent command of family and education law.
Tom at Tibetan Childrens Village school and orphanage in India 2016.
Over his teaching career, he has taught different courses such as: family law, children’s rights, education law, race prejudice, human liberty and economic deprivation. After writing a book called In Defense of Children, he went on a number of national television shows which included CNN, Oprah Winfrey and the Larry King Show. There were also appearances on radio shows and he testified before Congress on issues concerning children and poverty. He is also a host to the 14th Dalai Lama when His Holiness visits California and regularly offers his services to him.
The work which Mr Nazario has completed so far has seen him travel all over the world, understanding and cataloguing issues for the United Nations, such as human rights infringements with regards to young women and children. He has visited Tibetan refugee children from Northern India as well as children who live with their parents in sewers in Romania. He has seen children who were victims of the terrible war in Rwanda and spent time with children in Botswana who are sick or orphaned from AIDS. He has also been to Thailand and raised awareness toward children who have been sold into the sex slavery trade. During this time spent travelling to many different countries, Mr Nazario has had the privilege in meeting other organizations who also aim to help the world’s most deprived and disadvantaged people.
Tom with slum children at a grassroots program TFI supports called Tong Len in northern India 2010.
Mr Nazario’s concerns and efforts to help the very poor led to him founding an organisation in 2007 called The Forgotten International (TFI) (www.theforgottenintl.org). This is a non-profit foundation which at the moment helps eight countries across the globe as well as carrying out work inside the United States where TFI is based. The foundation also works with other organisations to present an understanding of global problems concerning poverty, depravation and neglect.
Mr Nazario has written an award-winning book entitled Living on a Dollar a Dollar a Day: The Lives and Faces of the World’s Poor (W.W. Norton & Co. / April 2014), which has reached a wide audience. It features a Pulitzer Prize winning photo journalist and a foreword by the Dalai Lama. The book extensively explains – in words and images – stories of the 1.2 billion people who live and manage on just one dollar a day.
Tom with his award winning book Living on a Dollar a Day 2014.
Mr Nazario would like young people of high-school age to better understand the problems that the world is facing in respect of world poverty. He wants to see more compassion and participation in local communities towards global awareness, which is why he has co-authored a course of study entitled Doing Good. The book of this name will be published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2017.
In concluding this article, I think we should all try to follow the great example set by Mr Nazario and find the understanding and empathy to help people who are unfortunately in a position of being very poor and vulnerable. It is thanks to the kind work of people such as Mr Nazario and organisations such as TFI that those people in society who are most in need can find hope, help and guidance where they would otherwise have to suffer alone.
Global Seven News