"Heads Up" the Giraffe E-zine of New Heroes' Stories
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More Stories of Giraffe Heroes, Plus a Few Notes and Essays You'll Enjoy.
How to Be a Man
Take a step behind the discussions on guns, misogyny, and the anger and loneliness that are driving men’s addictions and suicides. Time after time, in that dark place, I see men struggling to communicate or even acknowledge their emotions, men wanting but failing to form positive relationships...more
Blowing the Whistle on Bad Water
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...more
Finding Lead in the Water
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...more
A Giraffe in Haiti
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...more
She Sounded a Warning
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.
A Determined Educator
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...more
A Lifetime of Heroism
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...more
A Hero of the New Ukraine
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...more
A Brit in Thailand
A Truthful Reporter
A Corporate Whistleblower
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...more
A First Nations Warrior
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...more
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...more
A Defiant Rancher
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...more
Air Marshal Robert MacLean
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...more
35,000 Women, So Far
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...more
A Giraffe in the UK
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,...more
Giraffes in Singapore
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...more
Veteran (12-year-old) Environmental Activist
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...more
Giraffes = Hope
"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...more
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...more
Misunderstanding Plant Genetics
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...more
The Toothbrush Lady in Morocco
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...more
Barren Traffic Median or Vegetable Garden?
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...more
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...more
A Bearer of Gifts
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...more
The Youngest Giraffe
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...more
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...more
Miners in the Diamond Fields
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...more
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,...more
Thousands of Prisoners Getting a Restart
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...more
The Mission Continues
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...more
Protecting Habitat Around the World
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...more
Stories We Carry
"People become the stories they hear
and the stories they tell."
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...more
Mel's Diner in Charlotte
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,...more
Brave Young College Grads
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...more
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...more
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...more
Four True Heroes
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...more
NINE Giraffe Heroes
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.more
Make Your Day with Three New Giraffes
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...more
A Gift of Giraffes
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...more
Giraffes and Camels
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, "...more
New Giraffes Sparkle to Life
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...more
Once Upon a Giraffe...
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...more