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 needed shelter, food, water, safety and education. The farm now hosts 90,000 displaced Somalis, mostly women and children. Dr. Abdi has defended the farm against armed attempts by Somali militiamen who demanded that she, a mere woman, hand the entire operation over to them. Armed only with her outrage and determination, she not only refused, she demanded a formal apology for the damage the thugs had done. She got it. Lesson: Do not mess with Hawa Abdi. Keep track of what she's doing at http://www.dhaf.org/
Let's start with Dr. Hawa Abdi in Somalia, a place that hasn't given its citizens or the world much to celebrate in recent years.
Four True Heroes
From Somalia to Arizona...
Alberto Esparza saw a problem in his community and stuck his neck out to stop kids from dropping out of school, from joining gangs. He formalized and widened his efforts when he created the Si Se Puede (Yes You Can) Foundation, dedicated to the well-being of the children and families of Chandler AZ. Through Si Se Puede, Esparza is involved in college-readiness classes, a soccer league, science and math camps, adult education, scholarships, tutoring, and even folkdance lessons. To keep it all going, Esparza has been known to go without pay for months, and to challenge hostile forces in the community, eventually winning them over with his total dedication. More on his work at www.sisepuede.cc.
Andeisha Farid was born during a Soviet air attack on her Afghan village. Educated in a refugee camp in Pakistan, she determined that her life's work would be educating other Afghan girls. While teaching at a school in Islamabad, she saw orphans living on the streets and opened a day center for them. She expanded that into the Afghan Child Education and Caring Organization, now operating 11 orphanages all over Afghanistan, each of them protected against child trafficers by hired guards. In a nation where it's still suspect to educate girls, AFCECO's school in Kabul is educating both girls and boys, despite raids by government troops on both the school and on Farid's home. Keep track of the story at www.afceco.org.
To the US Pentagon
Franz Gayl is a committed Marine vet, loyal as all good Marines are, to the Corps. Working as a civilian advisor in the Pentagon, he saw reports from combat officers that Humvees were death traps for Marines and soldiers in Iraq. Field commanders were asking for the better-armed MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicle. It wasn't happening. Gayl pushed Pentagon channels. Nothing happened. So he went to Congress and to the press. The Pentagon took away his security clearance, making it impossible for him to work. He's widely credited with the Defense Department finally ordering the MRAPs and with the Secretary of Defense proudly saying they were saving thousands of lives. An official inspection of Gayl's case ordered the Pentagon to re-instate him. Do you wonder how many soldiers and Marines died or lost limbs during the years it took to answer the field commanders' urgent request? Gayl talks about the ordeal in an interview with the estimable Government Accountability Project, which provided him with the lawyers he needed to get his job back.;
There are five more new Giraffe stories...
...but I'm stopping here, bowing to all the experts who say email messages should be shorter than I want to make them. These are the new Giraffes from A to G. I'll send L to R in a few days. Meanwhile, please send these great people on to everyone you know who would appreciate their amazing stories. ~ AM
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