Thursday, April 14, 2016

"I want to be a force for good"

Sometimes, when you watch TV, the commercials are better than the show. I know they are when it's an AT&T spot and the young lady named "Lily" is helping mobile customers get new phones and the best data plans.

Of course, her name is not really Lily, any more than Norm Macdonald is the real Col. Sanders. She's Milana Vayntrub, 29, a Los Angeles based actor and comedian, born to a Jewish family in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. I only mention her faith because it plays a part in how she wound up in America. In the 1980s, Uzbekistan was a part of the Soviet Union, and her family was persecuted by anti-Semites. They became refugees in 1989, moving first to Italy and Austria before being granted American citizenship. You can see little tot Milana in this video that shows an old news clip about the emigration of Russians in that era.  

When Milana and her dad went to Greece recently for a vacation, certain facts hit them hard, such as the fact that monthly, an average of 130,000 come there seeking asylum. They come by sea across the Mediterranean from war-torn Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, mostly hitting land on the small island of Lesbos, with others arriving on the Greek islands Rhodes, Kos, Samos, Leros, Agathonisi, and Chios. Lesbos, just six sea miles from Turkey, has become the doorway to European freedom for these sad refugees.

Milana, struck by the desperation of the situation, decided to stay on and see what
she could do, explaining, "I don’t want to be a passive citizen anymore. I want to be a force for good." Appalled at the conditions the people had fled, and wanting better for them, she didn't know how to help or what to do, but you know, when a person really wants to help others, ways to do so often present themselves.  She went to a meeting in Athens and went to the beach on Lesbos, where volunteers and volunteer doctors and nurses rush to each arriving vessel to help the people. 

She spent time on Lesbos and is now back in this country.  She has organized a group called Can't Do Nothing as a place for people to find out how they can help.

Milana Vayntrub is talented and attractive and clearly has a future ahead of her in show business.  But she has a past behind her as a refugee, and maybe this is her way of paying back someone who helped her and her family settle here in a country that has always been great and still is great, no matter what some buffoon tries to tell you as he does nothing to help a single soul.  

Funny.  She plays someone who helps people find good phone plans, and in real life she makes good plans for her life and for others.

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