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Mary Willingham was hired to tutor athletes at the University of North Carolina. She took the job seriously, and it wasn't easy. She discovered that many of them had been admitted despite reading at elementary-school levels. One asked her to...

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This is Sister Megan Rice, a nun for most of her 80+ years and a peace activist since the 1980s. She had been arrested more than three dozen times and had done time twice when she and two other peace activists performed what was called the most serious security breach in the history of US...

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This is Hanna Hopko. She braved snipers' bullets in Kiev during a citizens' uprising that brought down a corrupt government there. Now she's leading a rapidly growing citizens' movement that's doing more than rising up and demanding...

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Andy Hall, a Brit, works for Finnwatch, a world-wide nonprofit that spots human abuses around the world and works to stop them. When Hall called out Thailand's National Fruit Company for the way it treats its workers, he asked to work...

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Bob Bajek, a reporter on a small-town newspaper in Illinois, came up with a Big Story: the town's recreational lake, where residents fished, swam, and boated, was highly toxic--a now defunct military base had dumped Agent Orange in the water....

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There were no protections for whistle-blowers in South Africa when businesswoman Wendy Addison reported her own corporate bosses for breaking the law. She was fired, got death threats, and was blacklisted, even in England, where she took her...

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Allan Adam is Chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan nation, whose lands lie within Alberta, Canada. These First Nation people have formal treaty rights that protect their lands from being taken or used by outsiders, but that treaty has been...

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Imagine you're 11 years old and your body is twisting from scoliosis, causing you constant physical pain and making you look very different from other kids. You're scheduled for surgery to straighten your spine and your mom takes a "before" picture so you'll have a history of how you once...

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Guy showed up on Randy Thompson's Nebraska ranch one day, and asked him if he'd consider letting a new oil pipeline come across his land. Thompson said he'd think about it. He started researching oil pipelines and the Canadian corporation...

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You get on a plane, settle in for a long trip, and assume that one of your fellow passengers is an on-duty, well-trained TSA air marshal who would know what to do if somebody tried to high-jack the plane.

Robert MacLean was one of those marshals and he took his job so seriously he...

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This is Catherine Hamlin MD, who left her home in Australia in 1959 to provide gynecological care to poor women in Ethiopia. At 90, she's still doing that, focusing on one of the most distressing medical/social issues imaginable: obstetric fistulas.

This is an injury that women can...

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Dr. Musharraf Hussain O.B.E., founder of the Karimia Institute, president of the the UK's Christian-Muslim Forum and Trustee of the National Centre for Citizenship talks with Giraffe's John Graham about the launch later this year of Giraffes/UK. They're shown here in the studio of Dawn Radio,...

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Giraffe Founder Ann Medlock went part way round the world to fabulous Singapore to keynote a conference at Singapore Management University. Ann's talk was about female Giraffes and the changes they've catalyzed in communities large and small. Conference organizer...

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This is veteran environmental activist, Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez. He's 12. And he's been working to save his beloved Colorado for half of his life. It started when he saw that the forest near his home was changing. Trees were dying, plants...

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Sangduen Chailert, known as "Lek," puts in 18-hour days caring for sick and injured elephants in a protected reserve she co-founded, the Elephant Nature Park in northern Thailand.

The dwindling elephant population is a world-wide...

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Imagine you're a Canadian research biologist, retired after a long career of creating new agricultural products and telling people about the fine potatoes and apples you've engineered. You're enjoying life on your farm in British Columbia when you begin reading research studies from Europe...

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When Muriel Johnston retired from her job as an office manager, she applied for a Peace Corps posting. Other retirees apply, but Johnston was 84 at the time. She was accepted into the Corps and headed off to Morocco, working for two years as a health and hygiene educator in a remote and...

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Ron Finley is a fashion designer who lives in a part of Los Angeles described as a "food desert" for want of access to fresh produce. Finley eyed the barren traffic median in front of his house and what he saw was 10 by 150 feet of potential vegetable garden. He started digging, planting...

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Kit Foshee is the reason you know about "pink slime," the ammonia-filled gunk that some meat processors have been adding to ground meats. Foshee had a six-figure job as a quality control inspector at a meat processing company that was telling its customers that the ammoniated slime made their...

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Paul Holton has served in Iraq again and again. First as a U.S. Army interrogator in the 1990s, then his Utah National Guard unit was deployed to Iraq in 2003. Now he goes back time after time, on his own, as a bearer of gifts--school supplies, toys, clothes, whatever he learns that Iraqi...

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Isabelle and Katherine Adams are working in the playtime of others their ages--Isabelle is 9, Katherine is 6 (making her the youngest Giraffe ever). They're making and selling origami to pay for clean water wells around the world. These two tiny people have raised over $100,000 for that vital...

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And now the oldest Giraffe commendee ever, Nicholas Winton. In 1939, the then young Brit identified Jewish kids in Czechoslovakia who were in danger of going to death camps. He forged documents, raised money, recruited British families to take the kids in, and got 669 of them on boats to...

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Farai Maguwu is telling the world that the miners in the diamond fields of Zimbabwe are being abused. He's also demanding loudly that the profits from the mines be used to benefit the people of that nation rather than disappearing into unseen hands. He's been imprisoned and he's watched...

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Nancy Rivard gave up a fast-track management job at an airline to sign on as a flight attendant so she could see first-hand what the needs are of people around the world. From her first "mission" of hand-delivering soaps to Bosnian refugees, she's grown an organization, Airline Ambassadors,...

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Mara Leigh Taylor's life is about America's many thousands of prisoners, about seeing that they get a restart on lives that have gone so badly. Volunteer Taylor goes into prisons to coach inmates in wise decision-making, giving them a new sense of themselves and the lives they can lead when they...

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Former Navy Seal Eric Greitens used his combat pay and invested almost every waking hour in establishing The Mission Continues, a nonprofit that matches US veterans still eager to serve, with communities that can use their devotion and skills. Greitens speaks out nation-wide, reminding all...

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Thirty years ago American film-maker John Dennis Liu went to Beijing to open a news bureau for CBS. He's stayed on, living in a house his father built before emigrating to the US. But Liu is rarely home. Most of the time he's on the road, from North Korea to Mali to Ecuador, making and showing...

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Retired coach Duke Oxford and his wife Toni Oxford could be tending to Duke's new work of selling artificial turf or maybe even taking some time to just enjoy themselves. Instead, they've created "Mel's Diner" (the name taken from the old TV series, "Alice.") This diner's now a mobile unit,...

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Seattle college student Dylan Patterson headed to Uganda as a volunteer, hoping to Dylan & passing wildlife help somehow. He met Enoch Magala in Enoch Magala Kampala and the young American's course was set. Magala and a field team of young Ugandans at the Mpolyabigere Foundation are...

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When he finished college, Bunker Roy was positioned to live a life of ease and privilege in urban Indian society. To his family's dismay, he chose instead to go live in an impoverished village "for a while." He's never left. Amazed and impressed by the skills and character of the often...

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An obstetrician/gynecologist, Hawa Abdi gave up the security of a staff job in a big hospital to open a small clinic for women on her wealthy family's 1,300-acre farm near Mogadishu. When her country fell into chaos, she saw that women needed more than medical care; they and their children...

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Ann Medlock here, with a quick summary

of our first year as a "distributed" organization

(all contractors and volunteers working from their homes).

I'm pleased to tell you it's working.

The year's balance sheet is in the black,

all hands have figured out their...

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American girl Neha Gupta hasn't let some difficult health problems stop her from doing awesome work to help orphans in her parents' native land, India. Click on her name to find out more.

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"You can't run from the wind.

You trim your sails, face the music, and keep going."

Those wise words were written by screenwriter Todd Robinson for the film White Squall. We know there's a lot of sail-trimming going on these days and we're pleased that we've completed that...

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New Giraffe Heroes ~ November 2010

Taking them in alphabetical order, we start with Mary Balikungeri.

When her home country, Rwanda, was deep in a terrifyingly violent civil war, Balikungeri, a widow with two small children, was living safely in her adopted country, Switzerland. She...

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We figure we can have any needed meetings in a coffeehouse near the old office. It's cozy and the espressos are great. (With my computer and files moved home already, I gotta say I like being able to contact you while wearing an old sweatshirt. You didn't know, did you?)

A crucial factor...

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A Nantucket Giraffe

The tiny island of Nantucket, Massachusetts is proud of its history. And well it should be. Mostly.

Nantucket teacher Barbara Linebaugh White discovered, when doing research for her master's degree, that the island's history was a bit more complicated than the...

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You're a high school senior in Appleton, Wisconsin and you decide to doyour senior thesis on global poverty. You can read some websites, maybe a couple of books, write it up and you're done, right? Not if you're Oliver Zornow. He decided to go see what was behind the stats, in one of the poorest...

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What does the word "hero" mean to you?

I've been pushing one definition for quite some time now:

A hero takes personal risks for the common good.

It's a classic definition, rooted in the traditions of cultures around the world. Yet we keep calling ball players and actors and...

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I just returned from keynoting a conference in Singapore and I have to tell you about that. I'm full of fan palms and orchids, equatorial breezes and bougainvillea, ripe papayas and cracked crabs ~ and the faces and voices of conferees and fellow speakers from India, the Philippines, Malaysia,...

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"Everybody can be great because everybody can serve."

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

& we add a sneaky footnote:

...any time, any days/weeks/months of the year.

We've just had a National Day of Service honoring Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday/holiday. It's a way to...

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I'm on your screen now to remind you that you're almost out of time in 2009 to make a gift to Giraffe and support that work.

The Giraffe curriculum helps students in classrooms all over the country look at their communities with new eyes, see problems that need to be addressed, and figure...

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Sam Colella was 7 and shy when he decided he had to do something for kids whose lives were disrupted by war. Overcoming his fears,

he raised over 15 thousand dollars

for children in Sudan, Liberia and...

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"In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.

It is then sparked into flame by an encounter

with another human being.

We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle our inner spirit."

~ Albert Schweitzer

"People who rekindle our inner...

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There was a bit of a break this month in my usual routine of writing, writing and more writing ~ I was asked to speak on real heroes at TEDxPugetSound, a regional spinoff of the fabulous TED conferences in California. My report, "...

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They're so recently chosen by our volunteer jury, we don't have their stories on our new website yet. But the links here will take you to more information about each of them.

Sarah Cambers, Sabrina Coons, Jessica Shelton & Megan Stewart

for creating & sustaining the...

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Azim Khamisa, commended for his work in stopping gang violence, has written a new book to show others how to achieve the forgiveness that's the cornerstone of his work. Watch his interview on CBS...

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No matter where you live in the world, you're probably taking in the news of enormous disruptions in "normal" daily life. You may be experiencing the changes personally; if you aren't, you certainly know someone who is.

Most of us have cut back from whatever level of expenditures we'd...

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A fanfare here, a blast of trumpets! The online database we've been working on has gone live. When you click on the Giraffes' names below, you'll be instantly transported into said database, where you'll be looking at the reasons that Giraffe was commended. The database is in beta formwe're...

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"People become the stories they hear

and the stories they tell."

~Eli Wiesel

I find that I'm getting stories stuck in my head that are profoundly pissing me offstories about people whose greed and self-involvement have dropped-kicked the whole world into this enormous economic...

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I don't know about you but I'm gravitating to every glimmer of goodness I can find these days. The news provides a few bright spots new initiatives from the White House, stories of people taking in neighbors who've lost their houses, reports of business executives actually cutting their own...

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