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 places on earth, Haiti. Encountering there the realities of disease, illiteracy, hunger, kidnappers and bandits, Zornow could have written up his notes back in safe, clean Appleton and moved on. Instead, he started a school in Caneille, north of Port au Prince. Working three jobs and running endless fundraisers all through high school and college, he created and has sustained the school and a meal service for the students. When he graduated from Laurence University last week, he knew that 150 Haitian kids were getting an education too, thanks to a senior thesis that he decided to take live.
Make Your Day with Three New Giraffes
Still in Haiti, we find Californian Margaret Trost, who first went there ten years ago to volunteer briefly in an orphanage. She's gone back dozens of times since, mutating from short-time volunteer to devoted founder and driving force of What If?, a foundation that began funding Sunday meals for 200 Haitian children and has gone on to provide 10,000 meals a week, all staffed and run by Haitians. There are also hundreds of What If? scholarships (Haitian schools aren't free) and plans for a new school, a community center and a vegetable garden. Read all about it at the What If? website.
On the beleaguered US Gulf Coast, we commended Ivor van Heerden,
deputy director of the Hurricane Center at LSU, who just lost that job allegedly (and rather obviously) in punishment for his public criticism of the Army Corps of Engineers, which provides funding for the Hurricane Center. Knowing from his study of geology and from his work on other levee systems that the levees the Corps had built in New Orleans were too low and dangerously unstable, van Heerden warned early on that the city would be flooded in a major hurricane. Before and after the disaster of Katrina, van Heerden spoke truth to power ~ and to all of us. There's detailed information at levees.org.
"It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived."
~ "Scout," describing her father, Atticus Finch,
in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.
That seminal book is being featured in bookstores right now, in a 50th Anniversary edition. You've read it, of course. You haven't? Hasten thee to a library or bookshop. It's a reading experience not to be missed. Well, there's also the very fine film, with the great Julie Harris playing Scout to Gregory Peck's Atticus. Rent/download it ~ and watch for Robert Duval, in his first screen role.
See You on Facebook
There's a Giraffe Heroes Facebook page and it would be great to meet you there--let's take advantage of their huge investment in code-writing! You can opine on these stories, philosophize about courage, ask questions, post videos, talk to Giraffes--it's quite lovely. Give it a go, OK?
If you are NOT a commended Giraffe Hero, you are heartily invited to donate to this work. (We never ask Giraffe Heroes for donations~they've usually got enough on their hands funding their own work.) But everyone else reading this can help us get Giraffes' stories into classrooms, to audiences at our speeches, participants in our workshops, and onto thousands of computer screens around the world, inciting others to follow Giraffes' brave lead. Feel free to hit the button ~