own account, Ben
Amor sleeps well these days knowing there is nothing else that Ben could do, except what I have done that day.That wasn't always so.In 1984, Amor
was haunted by a recurring nightmare fed by the images of starving children in Africa shown on the TV news.Children surrounded him, crying out for help in different languages.Again and again he
asked, "What can I do?" What he did was quit his job as a computer programmer to find the answer to the question.After several months of beating the bushes in search of supporters, Amor founded Terra-Genesis, a nonprofit organization created to provide a link between people in need and social services.
"I've been a crusader for 11 years," says Amor
English still steeped in the accents of his
native Tunisia, the North African country where he
first came to San Antonio in 1968 to study English as a member of the Tunisia Air Force
and settled here in 1975 Since Amor founded Terra Genesis the organization has grown and branched out.
Currently, Terra Genesis
has volunteers in Texas, Arkansas, Florida and Louisiana. Amor
supporters have helped to create three family centers that provide health care, counseling and education for neighborhood residents and started a mentoring program for adults and juveniles on probation.Terra Genesis
also has helped other organizations get off the ground, such as Sav-Baby
, a San Antonio nonprofit group that works to prevent the abandonment of infants and children.
At the core of Terra-Genesis
is the Human Services Guide, a directory of social service agencies and organizations Amor
publishes from the organization's modest office on Zarzamora Street.
"Terra-Genesis is a bridge - I'm a bridge- because there are a lot of people here looking for help, and they don't know where to go and that's what's missing," Amor
said."This directory is a bridge between people who don't know and the providers who want to help them."
The 1996 edition of the guide, which lists 2,500 local resources, will be available the last week of Febuary in book form.The directory also is available on IBM-compatible diskettes.
The book is cross-indexed by key words, such as Food, Counseling, and other topics.
Among those who buy the directory are social workers, educators, lawyers, military personnel and doctors who use the directories to make referrals, Amor
In addition to the San Antonio directory, Amor
has created directories for McAllen, Harlingen and Brownsville is almost complete, and a new directory of toll-free help lines is ready for the presses.
To create the first guide, Amor
simply got into his
car and began driving up and down the streets of San Antonio.To a lesser extent, he
used the telephone directory as a resource.
By now, Amor
has got creating the directories down to a science.
"I was lucky in Austin because they liked me.The county gave me an office next to (Interstate) 35, which is like an access (road), and a phone which is all I need."Amor
could have created an organization that focuses on one area of need - hunger, AIDS, literacy.But, he
said, enough organizations are already out there."Really, the power of Terra-Genesis is to tell people where to go for help, because the help is there, especially in the big cities," he
To purchase a directory, call (210) 342-8576 or (800) 579-3591