All posts by arnabmondal2020

Arnab Mondal is an avid book-reader, aspiring fiction author, food-enthusiast and a staunch supporter of human rights and LGBTQ+ reforms. Arnab specializes in investigative reporting, and has a special interest in international journalism, focusing mainly on public safety and human rights.

Failing healthcare on the island of Vieques

By Arnab Mondal
Medill Reports

Thousands of concrete blocks are lined up, side by side, on the edges of Luis Muñoz Rivera Plaza in Vieques, a tiny island in Puerto Rico. Some of the blocks are dyed with color, and most have names scribbled on them.

At first glance, the colorful blocks, red ribbons and heart decorations on the stage at the end of the plaza seem like part of a festival. However, the sheer number of names on the blocks is reminiscent of memorials. At first glance, one might wonder if the names on the blocks belonged to victims of Hurricane Maria. Not only did Vieques suffer mass destruction due to the hurricane, but the island almost entirely lost contact with the outside world for about two weeks.

After Maria, Vieques was left without proper water and power supply for a long time. Combined with the flooding of its only hospital, the Centro de Diagnostico y Tratamiento de Vieques, the resulting death toll on the Viequenses was severe. Hence, the idea that the local community might be building memorials to the victims hardly seems like a stretch.

However, a few of the blocks stand out from the rest. These blocks don’t have any names scribbled on them. Rather, each one contains only a single letter. Put together, they spell out messages like “Hospital” or “Niños Muriendo” (“Children Dying”).

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Q&A: “Stop listening to haters,” says the youngest Muslim to be elected

By Arnab Mondal
Medill Reports

Bushra Amiwala, the daughter of two Pakistani immigrants, became the youngest Muslim elected official in the country at the age of 21 in 2019.

She was a DePaul University freshman when she ran for a seat on the Cook County Board of Commissioners in 2017. She lost in the Democratic primary but decided to run again for the Skokie School District’s Board of Education in 2019, which she won.

In this interview, Amiwala discusses the challenges she’s had to face as a Muslim American woman, as well as the prevalent issues in her constituency.

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Muslims in Chicago say that Trump’s statements have painted a target on their backs

By Arnab Mondal
Medill Reports

As Dilara Sayeed, a 51-year old Muslim in Chicago, entered an office building for a meeting, she had an experience which she had thought almost unthinkable a few years ago.

Besides her office attire, Sayeed was also wearing a colorful hijab, a symbol of her faith. Sayeed is a social activist, an educator and a Harvard alumna. She also ran for election in the Illinois House of Representatives to represent District 5 in 2018. As such, her work and achievements, rather than her religion, had been at the forefront of most interactions.

As Sayeed got into the elevator, however she was confronted by an elderly white woman, a complete stranger, who said she would go to hell for wearing the hijab.

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Indian Americans in Chicago come together against the new citizenship bill in India

By Arnab Mondal
Medill Reports

The Indian community in Chicago has come out in support of Muslims after India passed a new citizenship bill last December that discriminates against the religious minority group.

India has been rocked by protests since Dec. 12, when the government passed a law that accelerated citizenship for foreign-born non-Muslim religious minorities from the neighboring countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said at the time that he wanted to protect non-Muslims, who were being persecuted in those Muslim-majority nations, but many Indians fear the move would discriminate against Muslims and chip away at the country’s secular constitution.

Critics have charged that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Modi’s Hindu nationalist party, was acting on its anti-Muslim agenda.

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Mayor Lightfoot’s anti-violence budget sparks debate between non-profits and critics

By Arnab Mondal
Medill Reports

As he leaves his house every morning to go to his job, Kenneth Watkins’ mother wishes him a good day with a smile.

“She used to look so worried whenever I left the house,” Watkins said. “The only thing she used to say to me was ‘Stay safe.’ But she looks so happy and relieved now.”

Watkins works at Chicago Animal Care and Control, where he tends and trains pets in the shelter. “Spending the entire day with these animals puts my mind at ease,” he said. “I love being here, and I really want to change. I don’t want to go back to selling drugs.”

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