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Published:January 28th, 2007 13:41 EST
Lessons From Hardship:  NYC Visitor Gets Lost For Days

Lessons From Hardship: NYC Visitor Gets Lost For Days

By Maria Grella

Picture this:  you're in a big city, in another country, where you don't fluently speak the language.  You lose your direction and're lost.  You don't ask for help out of pride or communication barriers.  Where does that leave you?  Lucky, if you're Damon Mootoo. 

After arriving in the land of opportunity from Guyana, Mootoo went for a leisurely stroll in South Jamaica, Queens, when he quickly became confused on how to get back to his brother's house, where he was staying.  Though Mootoo is able to speak some English, and has a permanent resident card, he didn't ask for assistance because of the horror stories he had heard about New York, as well as the fear of deportation.  He also was too ashamed to ask for food and shelter, leaving him to wander the streets, seeking refuge in abandoned cars, while his family worried, thinking the unimaginable.  Flyers were posted in the neighborhood, in hopes of a safe return.  Mootoo was missing for five days before a good Samaritan came to the rescue. 

Mr.  & Mrs. Michael Bharath fed Damon, after Michael had seen him on the streets trembling from the cold.  Damon finally disclosed his dire situation, and produced a piece of paper with his stepmother's address.  Bharath brought Mootoo home at last.  The 32 year-old man was worse for wear after days of dehydration and frostbite, but ultimately relieved to be back with his family.

Is there anything that can be learned from this troublesome story?  Learning the language of the country you are visiting should be a top priority.  Keeping your pride in check and knowing when to ask for help is another lesson.  Most importantly, lend a hand to those in need.  You just might be saving a life.