I am always surprised by the capability of children to take action and fight for a cause and that’s the reason I feature a lot of them on igiveyou.net. They take their responsability very seriously and their persistence deserves our respect. I think I could post only about them if I wished, as I find such cases in high numbers through the net, one of them being Fergus Walker.
Fergus is an 11-year-old from New Zealand. He happens to have several friends diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder known to be an inherited disease of the secretory glands, including the glands that make mucus and sweat. It is a rare disease although it is more common among nations in the Western world. It is a life-shortening disease and so far there is no cure for it.
All of this made Fergus mull different plans and finally approach his teachers at Point View Primary School in Auckland, to ask for their help with a fundraising campaign. Because what was bothering Fergus is that there is no real government funding towards research for finding a cure to help is friends. Starting a fundraising campaign was a way for him to show how much he cared for them
His selfless attitude quickly spread among his peers and paid off when his efforts turned into a school-wide campaign, with the student school council arranging meetings to plan the best ways to raise money. With the help of the teachers the school community planned a series of fundraisers and Fergus delivered himself a speech to introduce the genetic disease to younger students.
But the 6th grader is not done yet. His has many more ideas to bring awareness about cystic fibrosis in New Zealand. Why? because a close family friend, Tayler, was diagnosed with the disease and Fergus wants to be able to do whatever he can to help find a cure for his friend. Via times.co.nz
Last May, Xenia Giolli from Pacifica, CA, was reading the newspaper when an article caught her attention. The story was about a veteran of the Korean war, Ed Gallagher, 77, who was living alone in a nearby State Beach Park. Ed, a retired fisherman, had lost his wife about 5 years ago and since then had hopped from park to park, even living on the side of roads in his travel-worn minivan.
Xenia Giolli, from this article, also learned that Ed had terminal prostate cancer but refused to be confined in a hospital or senior home. He didn’t care too much about receiving proper care, he was determined to live his life the way he wanted and his choice was to be left alone. Xenia, a 35-year-old college student, majoring in psychology and economics, thought about the whole story and decided to do something. She was not sure exactly what but she thought paying a visit to Ed would be the obvious thing to do.
The Korean war veteran who had refused help from the many social workers who had visited him, opened up a little bit when Xenia stopped by, bringing a few magazines and food. She felt Ed was lonely and later asked the campsite staff to call her if he needed help. The next day they called because Ed couldn’t legally stay anymore, he had to leave. The psychology college student picked him up and brought him to her home. That was a temporary solution though because Ed wasn’t getting the care he needed.
The odd pair became friends and Xenia found a place for him in a Pacifica hospice. Even though Ed was against the idea, she convinced him to go and settled there. Xenia visited Ed everyday, spending time with him, becoming his closest family and giving him much needed love. The old man died at peace shortly after one of her visits on June 18th.
Xenia says that she is no saint. She also walks past homeless people all the time, but there was something special to Ed. By her actions she made the old fisherman’s last days worth living. She helped him die with dignity. Via hmbreview.com
Jorge Orozco-Sanchez from Colorado is a gentle man. He lives a quiet life with his wife and enjoys spending quality time with his two children. He is a truck driver, a job he loves because of the independent life it provides him. Last October, as usually, he was driving his truck on a narrow stretch of the highway when he noticed too late a SUV crossing into his lane. The vehicles collided head on.
Jorge jumped out of his truck and rushed into the burning SUV not once but twice, to pull two little girls from the fiery wreckage. Their mother died in the crash. The fire spread to his truck and there was nothing he could do but watch his livelihood reduced to ashes.
Over the next few months, life got much harder for Jorge and his family. He took a job at a restaurant but that was not enough to cover the bills. He was hounded by creditors while he was waiting for his insurance payments. At the same time he was getting a lot of praise and accolades for his heroic action. In March he got one of the most prestigious award for a truck driver, the Goodyear North American Highway Hero Award. And generosity kicked in. Life went on for months, the heroic truck driver wondering if one day he could decently feed again his two children.
Finally, good news came for Jorge would couldn’t believe it when he heard them. Touched by his story, the US National Association of Independent Truck Drivers had found him a 2005 truck with a no-money-down loan. Goodyear provided 18 brand new tires to replace the bald ones. On June 3rd, Jorge was back in business still amazed at his good luck and saying he didn’t deserve all of this. By the way he is still waiting for his insurance payments. Via denverpost.com
Dylan Mahalingam from New Hampshire is a teen with a mission: to spread the word about the United Nations eight Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) and mobilise his peers into working on these goals.
It was after the 2004 tsunami that Dylan decided to help. He fundraised $900 and the money was sent to Chennai, India, to help replace fishing boats and nets for a poor community. Collaborating with different kids on several more projects on the net, he noticed that they were not aware about the MDGs but as soon as they understood the eight goals, they wanted to do something about it.
So Dylan created a non profit, Lil’ MDGs, a collaborative effort to benefit various causes around the world. With his friends they raised funds and resources to build a dormitory for a school in Tibet and a computer center, library, and a mobile hospital in India. They provided school supplies for students in many countries and a playground for a school serving AIDS orphans in Uganda. Working with American soldiers, Lil’ MDGs mobilized children in America to send school supplies for students in various schools in Iraq. The non profit also collected and donated over 9000 books to a library serving disadvantaged youth in Washington, D.C.
You might wonder how Dylan, now 14, is handling studies, playing time and his non profit? His secret, something he learned right at the beginning of his fundraising efforts, is collaboration. 20 children from five countries volunteer approximately 15 hours a week to Lil’ MDGs. These 20 children, including Dylan, meet online weekly. Besides this, approximately 1300 children from 15 countries volunteer around 15 hours a month. Add to that thousands of kids participating to a specific project and you get an idea of the powerful leverage behind Dylan.
Knowing that one can achieve more through collaboration, what is your leverage power?
Dylan’s facebook page
(Dylan was nominated by Angela Hughes. Thank you Angela! You too can nominate anyone you think is remarkable and inspiring. Send your mail to jp [at] igiveyou.net)
Petar Ristic loves basketball. He used to be a member of the junior national basketball team of the former Yugoslavia. Now at age 40 he is a coach sharing his love of the game with kids. Last year he went on a trip to Southeast Bangladesh with his partner who is working for the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.) What he found in the two camps he visited near the border with Myanmar took him aback.
In the Rohingya refugees camps of Nayapara and Kutupalong, despite the genuine efforts of the UNHCR team members, he was met with despair and boredom, especially coming from the children who make up half of the 28,000 Muslim refugees. Most of them were born in the camps. The lack of education and other opportunities gave them a lot of frustration.
Petar, known as Pero in the camps, knew he could help them because in his home country after the war, the children needed special attention. Through sports, he was able to teach them vital skills they needed to succeed in life. “Why not here?” he thought. He started a basketball program with 25 kids but couldn’t imagine the snowball effect he was about to create.
Fast forward one year later. Petar is now teaching table tennis, volleyball, basketball and football to 700 girls and boys of all ages, including disabled children. He has been hired by a NGO from which he gets sports equipments. Even the police of the camp can be found kicking the ball with the kids. By practicing organized sports, the children learn important life skills like working together and respecting each other. The sports field also provides a safe place for them to talk about their problems. Now they have hope and dreams. Via unhcr.org
Next week is World Refugee Week. You can donate to help the UNHCR provide better living conditions for refugees before they can find a new place to live. Petar Ristic is doing his part in Bangladesh. What can you do from your computer?
In Uzbekistan, the disabled don’t have special ramps or access to buildings. It is very expensive to use a taxi able to accommodate a wheelchair. The lack of infrastructures designed for people with disability keeps them at home, hidden from the public. But a dynamic 50-year old woman wants to change that.
Zora Rahmatullaeva, herself wheelchair bound, is fighting to get fundamental rights for the Uzbek handicapped. She discovered how life was much easier for her when she took her first trip to the US in 2001. She could easily access public buildings, take elevators and use special toilets. Back in Uzbekistan, she thought, if she couldn’t move the red tape bureaucracy fast enough at least she could do something by herself.
Zora is the head of the National Association of Businesswomen with Disabilities of Uzbekistan. She encourages other women to get out of their home and start an activity. In Tashkent, the Uzbek capital, she also manages a club that has been proven very popular among women with disabilities. They come for the social interaction but mostly to get active. They are sewing and embroidering, they make breads and there are plans to open a greenhouse. The goal is to sell their production to add to their small income.
For Zora, the most important part of the plan is to empower these women who are used to be dependent on others. She wants them to be in charge. She teaches them leadership skills. That’s what freedom is about. Via tol.cz
Some people go half a world away to fill their desire to help. Rory Fanning from Chicago, stayed in his home country and just walked from the east to the west coast. It took him 8 months and 2,700 miles to reach his goal.
The aim was noble. While training for the Army in Fort Lewis, he befriended Pat Tillman, the famous Arizona State and Arizona Cardinals football star who was later killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004. The news of Tillman’s death deeply affected Rory. After he left the Army, working as a banker, he found our society greedy and selfish. Disillusioned, remembering his conversations with Tillman, he took action and decided to raise money for the foundation created by Tillman’s family after his death.
Rory Fanning decided to walk rather than run or use a bicycle. His philosophy? “The slower you go the more you take in.” This allowed him to meet many more people whom he high-fived, chatted with and sometimes moved, sprinkling Tillman’s “leadership through action” spirit along the road. Additionally, he raised $35,000 in his friend’s name.
Now Rory has new goals, new roads to travel. His next step? Ireland where he will walk and talk to more teens, more colleges students, more families, more detainees with whom he will share his experience.
To learn more:
Picture by AdventureRequired
Back in February, Aaron, from Garland, TX, was going to enlist in the Army. After celebrating, an unfortunate car accident made him lose both legs. But just before being hit he had time to save one of his friends who escaped the accident with almost no injuries. That friend says now that he saved her life.
The amazing thing though is Aaron’s spirit. As he says: “Being negative doesn’t help anything. If you don’t think you’re going to get better, you’re not going to get better. [...] I know I’m going to be back to the same.”Via dallasnews.com
Help Aaron pay for his costly hospital and rehabilitation bills through his fund.
Aaron his on facebook. Support him!
In Colombus, OH, one of his nurses was doing an excellent job but was a mother of 6 and homeless. He offered her new home. Via marionstar.com
Your reaction in critical situations can save a life. That’s what 12-year-old Matthew Perricone from West Milford, NJ, had to deal with while skiing with a friend. Via strausnews.com