We are excited to publish our annual collection of 10 inspirational heroes. Our heroes are compiled from awards, honors and lists handed out in 2012. 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! Go ahead and check out the heroic people on our “Top 10 list” and share with us other stores you have heard about in 2012.
Benoît Duchâteau-Arminjon (Cambodia) 2012 World of Children Award
Over ten years ago Benoît left behind his home country of France and a career in finance to spend a year helping refugee children. That year has turned into a decade, as Benoît teamed up with others to help develop Khmer Braille and sign language to allow disabled children to access education. He has also helped develop one of the largest networks of temporary and protection centers to provide for the social, emotion and material needs of Cambodian’s youth.
Ali Ferzat (Syria) 2011 Sakharov Award for Freedom of Thought
It wasn’t until November 2012 that Ali was able to receive his prize for his courageous efforts these past two years. Ali is a famous political cartoonist. In 2011 he was kidnapped and assaulted for his critiques of the Arab dictators. His hands were broken and as other activists continued to be assassinated he was forced to go into hiding. After his hands healed, Ali decided to put his life at risk as he began once again to use his artistic abilities to create powerful imagery that helped bring about social and political change.
Ai-jen Poo (USA) 2012 TIME 100 List
Daughter of immigrants to the United States, Au-jen became empathetic towards the plight of domestic and immigrant laborers after witnessing laborers put in long hours only to experience low pay, abuse and exclusion from labor protections. She decided to take action, and was instrumental in organizing workers to help New York and California develop and eventually pass the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. Now, rather than being excluded, over 2.5 million home-care workers are protected alongside workers of other industries.
Malala Yousafzai (Afghanistan) MoralHeroes Person of the Year
Malala herself has become a young national hero, known for her powerful voice and her courage to stand up for freedom and human rights. For years, despite threats of violence, she has been at the forefront of the movement to organize young girls to fight for their education and persuade local leaders to make necessary changes. This past fall Malala was targeted by the Taliban in an attempted assassination. She is currently recovering from multiple gunshot wounds.
Ikal Angelei (Kenya) 2012 Goldman Environmental Prize
In 2006 Ethiopia began construction of what would be the 4th largest dam in the world massively lowering the water levels in Africa’s largest desert lake. After hearing about thep project, Angelei brought together Lake Turkana’s divided and marginalized indigenous communities to fight against the mounting environmental and social consequences of the dam. Along with putting herself at risk during protests, Angelei was instrumental in convincing major banks (such as the world Bank and European Investment Bank) to withdraw their financial backing of the project.
Pushpa Basnet (Nepal)2012 CNN Hero of the Year
When she was 21 years old, Pushpa discovered a crisis affecting youth in her city. Dozens of children whose parents were imprisoned were also kept locked inside the prison walls. These children were growing up without education, play and exposure to the outside world. Against the advice of her parents, Pushpa began to reach out to the imprisoned families and eventually was able to pull the kids out of the prisons each day. She now runs an early childhood development center that has met the needs of nearly a hundred children in the prison.
Katie Stagliano (USA) 2012 Clinton Global Citizen Award
At 14 years old, Katie is founder and Chief Executive Gardener of the non-profit Katie’s Krops. Her passion for using kid-run vegetable gardens to provide food for the needy began in the third grade. Now, over 51 Kid-run gardens provide thousands of pounds of healthy food to soup kitchens and families in need. She also volunteers her spare time at soup kitchens, and represents youth on two larger foundation boards.
Noorjahan Akbar (Afghanistan) 2012 Women of Distinction Award
At the age of 20, Noorjahan has already made a huge impact in her world.As a Afghan woman, she has had the rare experience of attending high school, and now college. Noorjahan helped her family start an english-language center that helps educate and empower over 400 women in her home region of Kabul. She then began working with children to help them process tragedies through writing and creative thinking. In 2011 she co-founded Young Women for Change to organize edcuational opportunities, research and activism for gender equality in Afghanistan.
Kylie Lan Tumiatti (USA) 2012 TeenNick Halo Awards
In the 8th grade, Kylie started a literacy project with migrant workers. In her spare time, she has now been mentoring youth in reading and English language skills. Recently, Kylie has begun recording audio-books of public domain stories to help kids in their reading development.
Catalina Escobar 2012 CNN Hero Finalist
Catalina was a successful businesswoman running an international trading company who was forever changed while volunteering at a local hospital in Cartagena, Columbia. After witnessing the deaths and illnesses of impoverished infants she decided to change her life’s course. 10 years ago Catalina sold her business to begin an organization that would help fund healthcare for the poor and provide education and job-skills training to young mothers. Since then, the rate of infant deaths has dropped 67% and countless teen mothers have been given opportunities to change their lives as well.