Once again we are excited to publish our annual collection of 10 inspirational heroes. These heroes are compiled from awards, honors and lists handed out in 2013. For each of the heroes on this list there are there are thousands more who continue each day to make this world a better place without recognition. Lets celebrate the stories we know and keep our eyes out for new ones! Follow the links for the awards to find many more that will inspire you. In no particular order, some of the many inspirational heroes of 2013.
Chad Pregracke (USA) 2013 CNN Hero.
Chad began by noticing a problem, hundreds of thousands of pounds of trash and dumped debris along the Mississippi river ecosystem. He decided to do something about it, and spent his summer picking up 45,000 pounds of trash from the river. Realizing that “it’s a problem people created, and it’s a problem people can fix,” Chad decided to start a non-profit to organize a fleet of boats and energize inspired volunteers to join as part of the solution. Over the last 16 years, 70,000 people have helped clean up 23 rivers, all because Chad took action back in 1997.
Elias Taban (Sudan) 2013 Clinton Global Citizen Award
Elias grew up as a child soldier during the civil wars in Sudan. Determined to live a life that mattered, he earned degrees in civil engineering and theology and began ministering to devastated communities. Along with helping rescue people during the wars, he helped organize the building of schools, orphanages and hospitals. Elias continues to lead in peace negotiations between tribes and provide aid for those displaced by tribal violence
Triveni Acharya (India) 2013 World Of Children Humanitarian Award
Triveni was a journalist in India when she came across a 10-year-old girl who was stripped of her rights and held as a sex slave. With the help of her husband and a policeman, she was able to rescue the girl, as well as other girls imprisoned in the brothel. Triveni now dedicates her life to rescuing victims of child trafficking and provide the victims with a safe haven, health care, legal aid and training for future careers. Over 4,000 children have been helped by Triveni and her organization.
Bob Zellner (USA) 2013 MoralHeroes Person of the Year
Bob Zellner became one of the first white southerners to engage in the early civil rights movement. He organized sit-ins, rallies, investigations and speeches from Missouri to Massachusetts. Along his journey, Zellner was insulted, violently attacked, beaten unconscious, and arrested over 18 times. Yet even now in his 70’s, Bob stands fast for democracy, equality and justice. He was one of our most inspirational stories this year.
Azzam Alwash (Iraq) 2013 Goldman Environmental Prize – Asia.
Azzam made the difficult choice to return to leave his comfortable life in Calfiornia and return the unstable and war-torn Iraq of his youth. Upon returning, Azzam discovered that the once majestic Mesopotamian marshes has been drained and destroyed. Using his experience in hydraulic engineering, Azzam has been working since 2004 to educate others about the environmental, social and economic benefits for Iraq’s marshes. He developed a master plan to restore the marshes and now works to complete that plan.
Sruthi Ramaswami (USA) 2013 Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes
As a high school freshman, Sruthi began noticing that many youth are not represented in areas such as poverty, education, immigration and the criminal justice system. Convinced that the lack of youth representation was due to a lack of civic involvement, she started the Mitty Advocacy Project (MAP). Among many things, MAP trains and connects youth to teams of student researchers, youth lobbyists and their legislators to represent the interests of the less fortunate.
Fiona Doyle (Ireland) 2013 People of the Year Award
Fiona grew up in an abusive home, and at the age of 17, she mustered the courage to report her father for 10 years of abuse. Over the next three decades she would try various avenues to seek help and justice. However the Irish legal system was complicated and not friendly towards victims of abuse. Risking public backlash, Fiona chose to waive her right to anonymity during the trial so others could learn of her case and find hope if they faced abuse as well. Fiona’s courage and determination has inspired other abuse survivors to seek justice and has prompted changes in the structure and sentencing of sexual crimes in Ireland.
Muhammed Kisirisa (Uganda) 2013 Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for Conviction
Muhammed is a youth from a notorious Ugandan slum, who formed an all-volunteer anti-poverty organization to empower impoverished people and promote self-reliance. In 2011 he founded a community school dedicated to providing free education to orphans and children whose families are inflicted by HIV and AIDS in the slum where he grew up. In addition, his organization provides workshops and runs a micro-loan program, further encouraging and reinforcing the skills necessary for successful change in his community.
Razia Jan (Afghanistan) 2013 American Muslim Women’s Empowerment Council Award
In 2006, after living 35 years in the United States, Jan returned to her native Afghanistan to open a free private school for girls. The risks to Razia and her students were high. As recently as 2012 there were over 185 attacks on schools and hospitals by armed groups opposing education for girls. Within the safety of her compound, over 350 girls receive free education, protection and support from Rasia and her school’s staff.
C.T. Vivian (USA) 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom
C.T. Vivian is a distinguished minister, author and organizer. He volunteered to replace injured members of the Freedom Rides, helped organize the first sit-ins in Nashville in 1960 and the first civil rights march in 1961. C.T. became a close friend and aide of Martin Luther King Jr., and became a visionary and leader for the civil rights movement and founded many organizations including Vision (now Upward Bound). C.T. received the highest honor for civilians in the United States.
Have a hero you’d like to recognize? Let us know in the comments below.