Real Heroes honored: There’s always a ray of hope out there

Maintaining the dignity and honor of any community cannot be achieved by lip service alone. Empty claims soon reveal the intention of people making them and even the people who hears these claims and still don’t bother to take a step ahead, even after realizing the truth behind these claims.

For those who do, they are recognized as the real heroes acting as a catalyst for change. Though a catalyst is known for not taking part in the actual change that is underway yet they just a role in initiating it but these catalysts are indeed messy. Thanks to CNN for finding these people and introducing them to real world. These people can now be looked up to and referred to whenever a doubt in the mind arises on change initiators.

These ten extraordinary people are shortlisted by CNN from six countries spread across four continents as heroes for the 2012 calendar year and will receive financial help to the tune of $50000 with an opportunity to create a bigger ripple in the world. An honoring ceremony for these people is going to take place on December 2 in a live honoring ceremony in 2012 for which the announcement of winners has been made on last Thursday.

All the winners were chosen after the nominations received from viewers of the CNN network. What I like in this is that the viewers are also playing the role of society watchers and donning a key role in recognizing and encouraging such people. Though he number of people selected and the help provided may not be sufficient enough, yet it is a step in the right direction.

One of the leading public vote scorers out of these 10 people is going to receive an additional prize of $250000 for backing their initiative from the news network. The winner is going to get the title of Hero of the Year.

Let’s talk about the people that are selected for this year’s event as I don’t want to test your patience to know, who are people that have won this year’s version?

Winners are sorted below:

Pushpa Basnet

Pushpa Basnet has worked for providing care to children whose parents are servicing a jail term in Nepal. These children earlier used to stay in jails with their parents leaving them with no other choice but to stay with them. Pushpa worked for the betterment of these children and provided facilities like housing, education and healthcare to them. Today the number of children supported by Pushpa has risen to the 140 odd children. Basnet said on her initiative, “I always had a dream to build our own home for these children, and I want to rescue more children who are still in prisons,”

Wanda Butts

Wanda had to bear the tragedy of losing her son in a drowning accident. It has been six years since the incident occurred and it had prompted her to train other kids from backward sections in swimming. Till this day she had trained as many as 1200 kids under a nonprofit institution called “The Josh Project”. The inspiration that drives Wanda is explained by her saying, “I started the Josh Project to keep other mothers from having to suffer such unforgettable loss,”

Mary Cortani

Mary has served as a Dog Trainer in the Army. She now runs a nonprofit “Operation Freedom Paws” where she assists war veterans in training their service dogs.  The lady has helped about 80 veterans to this day after starting the nonprofit in 2010. She put her drive to run the venture by saying “I’m hoping this brings awareness to the world that PTSD is real and that we will be able to reach more veterans who so desperately need help,

Catalina Escobar

Catalina is into helping out teen girls who get pregnant in Columbia be better prepared for the days ahead after turning mothers. Statistics on this issue states that one in every five girls in Columbia is either pregnant or has been pregnant in the age group of 15-19 years. Her foundation lends a helping hand to these girls by providing them counseling, job training and education. This way these girls have a better chance of supporting themselves and their children. Escobar says on the issue “Teenage pregnancy is a world poverty problem, and we have developed models of intervention that break the cycle “and” I want to share it with people around the world.”

Razia Jan

The fight put up by Razia has terrorists from rural Afghanistan on the other end. This woman is indeed courageous for a place where terrorists to resort any malice in order to keep these girls forever in the state of no knowledge going their way. She is providing free education to some 350 girls who otherwise wouldn’t have got the opportunity to do something like this ever. It is Zabuli Education Center by which her venture is known to people in Afghanistan. She says on the opportunity provided by CNN “This honor is a God-given gift that will make it possible for me to continue to give a ray of hope to these girls,” and also said “My goal is to break the cycle of violence”

Thulani Madondo

Thulani didn’t have quite a desirable childhood upbringing and spent his childhood in the Kliptown slums of South Africa. It is when he decided to do something for other children in his slum when he realized what he could have become if he didn’t have to spend his time in the slum. Today his Kliptown Youth Program provides school uniforms, education, and food to 400 children in slums. He says about his endeavor, “We’re trying to give them the sense that everything is possible,”

Leo McCarthy

Leo’s daughter got killed in 2007 due to the careless attitude of a drunk teen taking to driving under the influence of alcohol. Leo begun by starting a nonprofit by the name of “Mariah’s Challenge” where he offered scholarships to the young who pledge to shun alcohol till they don’t attain the legally permissible age. His nonprofit has awarded as much as $150000 in scholarships. He pointed out saying “We can change an apathetic culture of teenage drinking and driving,” and “Hopefully one day soon we will not need Mariah’s Challenge.”

Connie Siskowski

Connie runs a nonprofit that helps young caregivers in there moment of need. Her venture serves in Palm Beach County, Florida area and has assisted about 550 caregivers till now. She elaborated about her action saying “I can only believe that when more people understand about this precious population, they, too, will want to recognize and support them,” and “These children suffer silently behind closed doors.”

Scott Strode

Scott suffered from drugs and alcohol addiction when he decided to let go of the habit but couldn’t quite make a mark as peoples’ opinion got prejudiced till now. Sports become that one area which lent hope to Scott. He created his nonprofit Phoenix Multisport to help people turned sober and athletic activities free of charge. Since 2007 about 6000 people have benefitted from the initiative in Colorado. Scott told CNN of how the endeavor is helping people saying “This is an opportunity to shine a light on individual stories of recovery and sobriety in a way that will help remove the shame and stigma that surrounds dependency and addiction,”

Malya Villard-Appolon

Malya is a rape victim and survivor who have now pledged her life to improve other rape victims like her. Today she runs a nonprofit “KOFAVIV” that she also co-founded in 2004. Today about 4000 rape victims receive support in the way of safety, mental support and legal aid from her organization.  She reaffirms her commitment saying “This encourages me to continue to fight on behalf of women and girls who are victims,” she said. “I hope it brings about a change for my country.”

Source: CNN

Photos: CNN

Published by Bhavesh Kumar

A multi-talented professional with diverse experience spanning across Advanced statistical analysis,Python programming with NumPy, pandas, matplotlib, Seaborn, Tableau, Machine Learning with stats models and scikit-learn, Deep learning with TensorFlow, Instructional design, E-learning, journalism (online and broadcast), management consultancy and documentary filmmaking. Worked for the leading international news agencies on feature stories, videography, scripting, programming and editing broadcast news. A creative and analytical mindset focused on executing new-age strategic communication initiatives with all its corresponding elements (clear and coherently written key messages, marketing strategy and predictive analytics) to ensure effective target audience impressions. Also, worked on several primary and secondary market research projects (Market Feasibility Study) for businesses looking for actionable insights.

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