A Sampling of Real Heroes' Stories

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Despite the mountains of paperwork thrown at her by bureaucrats, and the threats and actual attacks from those whose profits she endangers, Sumaira Abdulali has championed the well-being of her fellow residents of Mumbai, India, mobilizing thousands of them to protect the environment and lower pollution. Abdulali’s organizing has made Mumbai safer and quieter. https://awaaz.org/

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A Marine vet and Veterans’ Administration drug abuse counselor, Brandon Coleman blew the whistle on VA mistreatment of patients. After years of harassment, he was hired by a group within the VA that protects whistleblowers. He found things going wrong there, so he blew the whistle on them. No matter what he has to endure, Coleman will go on championing his fellow vets.


When she was eight years old, Mari Copeny wrote to then-President Obama, asking him to help fix Flint, Michigan's toxic water. He visited her, and over $100 million followed, for the repairs. Mari went on to be a tireless activist against bullying and ethnic discrimination, and for the environment and immigrants’ rights. She's raised money, distributed school supplies, founded organizations, and inspired other children to challenge authorities. Here's her website—www.maricopeny.com

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Nan Goldin risked her career as an art photographer by going up against the most powerful donors to the art world. The money they donate was made by making and pushing OxyContin, a drug that's harmed and even killed thousands. Thanks to Goldin’s unrelenting work, art institutions have removed the family’s name from their previous gifts, and refused new gifts. Keep up with her here.

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Greenland-born Aaju Peter champions Inuit rights and values, working against the prejudices and influences of their colonizer, Denmark. To better represent her people, she became an attorney, and to bring Inuit culture to the world, she became a singer, dancer, and designer, all while raising five children and assisting Inuit women who need food and protection from abusers. Her website is www.twicecolonized.com

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Sahar Pirzada, a Muslim Pakistani-American, fights for sexual freedom and women’s rights within Muslim communities, and for a better understanding of Islam by people outside that faith. Standing against Islamo-phobics and standing for more respect within Islam for women and non-binary people, has repeatedly brought her into conflict with those who do not want change. She has two websites— www.vigilantlove.org and https://hearttogrow.org/

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Founder and editor of the news portal, The Kashmir Walla,Fahad Shah has been arrested and detained by Indian authorities who do not like his reporting on what he sees in troubled Kashmir. Shah has even been accused of terrorism and sedition for letting the world know what the Indian government has done in this area largely populated by Muslims. This is his website—www.thekashmirwalla.com

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Omar Vasquez has created a way to help people who, like him, have been unable to afford a home. He’s employed formerly jobless people to create building blocks cheaply and fast out of a noxious seaweed that’s polluting Mexico’s shores. He’s made home ownership possible for hundreds of families, some of whom have received the blocks free. https://fortomorrow.org/explore- solutions/sargablock

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Pamela Winn, a registered nurse, is working to be sure no incarcerated women are treated as inhumanely as she once was. The mistreatment she experienced caused her to miscarry, and left her with PTSD. You can follow the work of her nonprofit, RestoreHer, assuring women’s health is no longer endangered in US prisons.

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A Few More Stories


Flint pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha takes care of some of the poorest kids in the city at a state-funded medical center.

When she began to suspect something had gone terribly wrong with the public water supply, she was on it—as a physician and as a parent, she knows how dangerous...


If you could do just about anything you wanted to do, would you choose to assist the people of Haiti in achieving their dreams? That's what John Engle decided to do in 1991, and he's been on the job ever since.

It hasn't been easy. There's been a military coup, a dictatorship, public...


When she was fresh out of law school, Canadian Alayne Fleischmann got a really prestigious job, one that looked like the first step in a successful career. She was hired by a multi-billion-dollar, multi-national bank to analyze acquisitions and make sure they were high-quality.



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...


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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Marc Edwards teaches civil engineering at Virginia Tech; his particular expertise is in municipal water systems. When he was hired to check out Washington DC's water-delivery system, he and his students got right on it. What they found was dangerously high lead levels in the water; what they got...


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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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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


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,...


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...


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...


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,...


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...


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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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.


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...


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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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 and sustaining the...