Inspirational News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Inspirational News Articles in Media
She doesn't wear a fairy costume or carry a magic wand, but for many children who don't have a lot to begin with, she might just be their fairy godmother. Danielle Gletow is the founder and executive director of One Simple Wish, a Trenton, N.J., charity that fulfills wishes for foster children in 44 states. The wishes can be big, like horseback riding lessons, or small and simple like a backpack or shampoo. The children are asking for things like bicycles, skateboards, prom tickets, and gymnastic lessons, things that most would consider normal childhood requests and activities, yet they have no one to provide them. That’s where One Simple Wish fills the void, matching wishes from children, caseworkers and foster parents with donations from individuals and corporate donors. For 14-year-old Blessing Williams, who has been in the foster care system for more than a decade, the wish was dance lessons. On a recent Friday afternoon, her wish was fulfilled. With the beat of hip-hop music in the background and a grin on her face, Blessing glided across the floor as part of a class at the Watson-Johnson Dance Theatre. Her wish was donated by 15-year-old Cassidy Mack, who was also a foster child before finding a forever family. “As much as we’ve been growing, and our reach has been expanding, the core of our mission hasn’t changed, it’s about one child. I love that that’s resonated with people. They can come to our site, www.onesimplewish.org and they can make change for one individual and that’s what it's all about.”
Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
In a groundbreaking discovery, a collaborative team of researchers from Wisconsin, Spain, and France reported in December 2013 the first evidence of specific molecular changes at a genetic level following a period of mindfulness meditation. "To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that shows rapid alterations in gene expression within subjects associated with mindfulness meditation practice," says study author Richard J. Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds. The study compared the effects of a single day of intensive mindfulness practice between a group of experienced meditators and a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities. After an intensive day of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed a dramatic range of genetic and molecular differences. Meditation was found to alter levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation. "Most interestingly, the changes were observed in genes that are the current targets of anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs," says Perla Kaliman, first author of the article and a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona in Spain, where the molecular analyses were conducted. In past studies, mindfulness-based training has been shown to have beneficial effects on inflammatory disorders. Meditation is endorsed by the American Heart Association as an effective way to lower [the] risk for heart disease. Another study from April 2011 found that meditation produces powerful pain-relieving effects in the brain.
Note: For an excellent and inspiring book on how your thinking and feeling can change your genes, check out Bruce Lipton's Biology of Belief, available here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
On February 2, 2006, Anita Moorjani was in a coma. With her body riddled with cancer, doctors told her husband that her organs were shutting down and she likely would not make it beyond the next 36 hours. "I was just so tired of fighting to try to stay alive," she said. So she said she let go. The next morning, she didn't wake up. Her husband rushed her to the hospital, where the family was told the bad news: Moorjani was in a coma and not expected to wake again. Moorjani can't put her finger on the exact minute that she says she left her body. She saw her husband standing next to her hospital bed. Moorjani could also hear conversations that took place between her husband and her doctors, far from her hospital room. She heard them, she said, discuss her pending death. "Your wife's heart might be beating, but she's not really in there," a doctor told her husband -- a conversation, she said, he would later confirm to her after she asked. Hovering between life and death, she said she was surrounded by people who loved her. Her [deceased] best friend, Soni, was there. So was her father, who had died years earlier from heart failure. There were others there, too. She knew they loved her and cared for her. It was a feeling unlike anything she says she had ever felt. "At first, I did not want to come back. Why would I want to come back into this sick body?" she said. About 30 hours after being hospitalized, Moorjani awoke. Within days, she said, her organs began to function again. Within weeks, doctors could find no evidence of cancer in her body, she said.
Avaaz – which means "voice" in various languages – has become a global pressure group to be reckoned with. It's a new kind of activism that isn't issue-led, it's issues-led. It's human rights abuses in Burma, or it's the Syrian civil war, or it's threats against the Great Barrier Reef or it's homophobia in Costa Rica. It's whatever its supporters, guided by the Avaaz team, choose to click on most this month. If it launches a campaign, it throws its resources at it – and a chunk of its $12m budget a year, all donated from individuals – and there's a fair chance it will have an impact. Avaaz is both global and globalised and its approach is less bleeding-heart liberal than hard-headed pragmatist. Its growth is exponential: they've gone from nine employees in year one to 100 now. In September, I interviewed its softly spoken Canadian founder, Ricken Patel, and noted in the transcript that [Avaaz] now had 26 million [members]. By the time this piece appears in print in November, that number will be hovering around the 30 million mark. "Liking" a Facebook page isn't going to save the world. But five times as many people in Britain are members of Avaaz than they are of the Labour Party. And 30,000 people donate money to it every month. To save the world, click here.
Note: Read and inspiring article on the founder of Avaaz, Ricken Patel. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The concept of a “celebrity statistician” might sound as though it must be - and should forever remain - an oxymoron. But watch Prof Hans Rosling ... and you may change your mind. After showcasing his unique approach at a conference organised by TED, [he] garnered a reputation as the “Jedi master of data visualisation” and “the man in whose hands data sings”. What Rosling does, in a nutshell, is animate graphs. One dot showing, for example, life expectancy in Britain, is quite unremarkable, but apply Rosling’s software, and, at the click of a mouse, that dot will move, showing ... how it has changed every year. Add other dots, representing other countries, from France to China, and suddenly you have a moving stream ... that puts each country’s life expectancy into perspective and shows how the figures have changed over the last 65 years. Combine all this with the professor’s hyperactive presentation style ... and a potentially dry subject suddenly has a [compelling] narrative. Not that Rosling would ever describe statistics as “dry”. “No!” he says. “Statistics take up four pages in most daily newspapers. People don’t find these boring at all, but they don’t think of them as ‘statistics’. If you support Man United or Arsenal, or if your stock falling means you can’t go on holiday, you are interested. It’s only boring if you get data you didn’t ask for, or if you don’t realise its link with the real world.”
Note: Rosling has some incredibly hopeful and inspiring data, including that the global population of humans is leveling off. Don't miss his incredibly inspiring TED talk titled "The Best Stats You've Ever Seen."
Guest teacher Toshiro Kanamori captivates the students at the Amstelveen College high school in the Netherlands. Though he is almost a head shorter than most of the students, he holds their attention as he speaks passionately with the help of a translator. But that's almost unnecessary; as someone says later, with his hand gestures, you could almost understand him without the translator. Kanamori speaks with his face, his hands, his whole body. Kanamori is no ordinary teacher. In his vision of education, school is not so much a preparation for life; he believes children should be participating in life. Life itself forms the foundation for learning. Thanks to the heartwarming documentary "Children Full of Life", Kanamori, 67, is known all over Japan and the world. The documentary follows Kanamori and an elementary school class for a year as he teaches his students how to talk about feelings, be compassionate and be happy. That last lesson, according to Kanamori, should be the reason kids go to school. Kanamori teaches elementary school children at the Hokuriku Gaikun University in the Japanese city of Kanazawa, and in the 38 years he's been -- as he puts it -- in, not in front of, the class, he's brought the outside world into the curriculum. For instance, for a sex education lesson, he invited a pregnant woman to class and let the kids ask any questions they might have. He also brought in a terminal cancer patient to talk about her feelings about dying and death. Lessons about death? According to Kanamori, death is not too heavy a subject for kids around ages 9 and 10.
Note: For a profoundly moving video of Mr. Kanamori working his magic with a group of Japanese children, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
From Enfield, Conn., to New York City and the San Francisco Bay, lush gardens filled with ripe fruits, vegetables and flowers are growing in unexpected places — prison yards. Prisons use them to rehabilitate inmates and to teach them basic landscaping skills that they can use to get jobs. For the last three years, all 18 state prisons in Connecticut have had garden programs. None cost taxpayers money. Last year, Connecticut prisons produced more than 35,000 pounds of produce – saving taxpayers $20,000 a year by putting produce back into the prison system. “We believe that everybody has a heart and everybody has a chance for transformation,” said Beth Waitkus, the director of the Insight Garden Program that started 10 years ago at San Quentin prison. “What happens with gardening is … they reconnect to themselves. They reconnect to their feelings. They reconnect to each other as a community, a small community in the prison, and they really reconnect to nature. And, I think that offers a huge opportunity for transformation when we reconnect to ourselves and to the natural world.” While Waitkus spends her time in San Quentin teaching inmates how to plant flowers, take care of soil and prune plants, she also keeps the connection strong once they leave prison. Nationally, the recidivism rate is more than 60 percent, according to the 2011 Annual Recidivism Report. For garden prisoners at San Quentin, Waitkus said the return rate is less than 10 percent, and most other prison gardens report return rates in the single digits. In Connecticut, officials say not one of the garden graduates has returned.
Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
Google's founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, made giving back a company priority from the beginning. Their hope was that "someday this institution (under the rubric of 'Google.org') may eclipse Google itself in terms of overall world impact by ambitiously applying innovation and significant resources to the largest of the world's problems." Google has firmly established itself as a powerful and innovative player on the corporate philanthropy scene. Google's philanthropic entity was initially formed with a pledge of 3 million shares to make grants in several broad areas, including global poverty, disease and renewable energy. In 2009, Google announced a major strategic shift: to not only fund traditional nonprofits through cash grants, but also to concentrate on using Google's strengths in data-driven technologies and information aggregation to address the world's problems - to, in effect, engineer for social benefit. Google gave away $105 million in grants during 2012, plus $1 billion more in product donations, principally productivity apps and advertising grants for nonprofits. The company was the 12th-largest U.S. corporate cash donor in 2011 and 2012, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Between $45 million and $50 million of that 2012 total [was] directed toward disaster relief, university research and community organizations in Silicon Valley - with $23 million dedicated to Google's Global Impact Awards. Last year's Impact Awardees include Charity: Water, which Google granted $5 million to install remote sensors at 4,000 water points across Africa by 2015. The low-cost sensors will monitor and record actual water flow rate to ensure better maintenance of and access to clean water for more than 1 million people.
Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
In this exclusive excerpt from her autobiography, I Am Malala, young activist Malala Yousafzai recounts the day she was shot by the Taliban. "Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, wasn’t the best of days to start with, as it was the middle of exams. We had been getting threats all year. Some were in the newspapers, and some were messages passed on by people. I was more concerned the Taliban would target my father, as he was always speaking out against them. His friend and fellow campaigner Zahid Khan had been shot in the face in August on his way to prayers. When our bus was called, we ran down the school steps. Inside the bus it was hot and sticky. Then we suddenly stopped. A young bearded man had stepped into the road. The man was wearing a peaked cap and had a handkerchief over his nose and mouth. Then he swung himself onto the tailboard and leaned in over us. “Who is Malala?” he demanded. No one said anything, but several of the girls looked at me. I was the only girl with my face uncovered. That’s when he lifted up a black pistol. My friends say he fired three shots. The first went through my left eye socket and out under my left shoulder. I slumped forward, blood coming from my left ear, so the other two bullets hit the girls next to me." Malala has undergone a recovery that is nothing short of miraculous. The bullet narrowly missed her brain [and she] suffered no major permanent neurological damage. The ordeal did, however, solidify her will: “It feels like this life is not my life. It’s a second life. People have prayed to God to spare me and I was spared for a reason—to use my life for helping people.”
Note: Malala was only 11 when she took on the Taliban, demanding that girls be given full access to school. Her campaign led to a blog for the BBC, a New York Times documentary, and a Pakistani peace prize. But all that was only a prelude to even more extraordinary events, the Taliban's assassination attempt and her miraculous recovery. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
Last year when American Paradigm Schools took over Philadelphia's infamous, failing John Paul Jones Middle School, they did something a lot of people would find inconceivable. The school was known as "Jones Jail" for its reputation of violence and disorder, and because the building physically resembled a youth correctional facility. Situated in the Kensington section of the city, it drew students from the heart of a desperately poor hub of injection drug users and street level prostitution where gun violence rates are off the charts. But rather than beef up the already heavy security to ensure safety and restore order, American Paradigm stripped it away. During renovations, they removed the metal detectors and barred windows. The police predicted chaos. But instead, new numbers seem to show that in a single year, the number of serious incidents fell by 90%. The school says it wasn't just the humanizing physical makeover of the facility that helped. Memphis Street Academy also credits the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP), a noncoercive, nonviolent conflict resolution regimen originally used in prison settings that was later adapted to violent schools. AVP, when tailored to school settings, emphasizes student empowerment, relationship building and anger management over institutional control and surveillance. There are no aggressive security guards in schools using the AVP model; instead they have engagement coaches, who provide support, encouragement, and a sense of safety.
Since the end of the Cold War, the number of armed conflicts in the world has fallen by 40 percent, according to Simon Fraser University’s Human Security Report. And those conflicts have resulted in strikingly low numbers of fatalities. While that statement may sound odd ... the numbers are nonetheless telling. Since 1988, the number of wars killing more than 1,000 people a year has gone down by 78 percent. What explains this spectacular reduction in violence? In The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, Harvard professor Steven Pinker cites a number of reasons. Nation-forming curbed people’s inclination to steal their neighbors’ land and reduced the threat of enemy invasion, allowing geopolitical stability to take root. The emergence of democracy curbed tyrannical government excesses. International trade turned countries into business partners, and peace became economically attractive. A general process of civilization brought about more and more self-control. Not every indicator shows a steadily falling line, but enough measurements do register a continuous drop in brutality. It’s human to remember grisly periods like world wars and senseless outbreaks of savagery and forget how many people died violently in past centuries. It’s a fact, though, that we experience considerably less violence today than our forebears did. You’re more likely to drown in a swimming pool than to die a brutal death. That’s a luxury no one knew in generations past. We do, indeed, live in history’s most peaceful era.
Note: One of the most under-reported positive stories is that global violent crime has dropped dramatically in the last two decades. For FBI statistics showing violent crime in the U.S. dropped to 1/3 the rate of 1993, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
Baby Boomers - the protest-loving generation that didn't trust anyone over 30 - are approaching retirement by the millions, an evolution that many say could be the last best hope for a hopelessly gridlocked Washington. Replacing the Boomers are the Millennials, a get-it-done group born roughly between the early 1980s and 2000s, who make up the largest and most diverse generation in history. It's a generation that proudly rises above party loyalty and is driving the surge in the number of decline-to-state voters, who now make up 1 in 5 Californians, experts say. They are less divided, and they have a much greater "unity of belief" on social issues such as same-sex marriage, which 70 percent of them support, said author Morley Winograd, a former White House policy adviser under President Bill Clinton and a demographics expert. Their political mind-set ... is: "We want to change the world - what can we do together?" The legacy they are beginning to inherit, and fundamentally change, is a political culture that is rabidly partisan and all but frozen in animosity. The politics of an unpopular Congress suggest that lasting solutions will come not from the once-influential Boomers, but instead from their kids. "American politics will never be the same - because it is the end of the Boomer-dominated era," said Winograd. Winograd, co-author of a new book with Michael Hais called Millennial Majority: How a New Coalition Is Remaking American Politics, said, "The new Millennial-driven majority coalition in the United States will change almost everything."
Waiting hours for a cellphone to charge may become a thing of the past, thanks to an 18-year-old high-school student's invention. She won a $50,000 prize ... at an international science fair for creating an energy storage device that can be fully juiced in 20 to 30 seconds. The fast-charging device is a [type of] so-called supercapacitor, a gizmo that can pack a lot of energy into a tiny space, charges quickly and holds its charge for a long time. What's more, it can last for 10,000 charge-recharge cycles, compared with 1,000 cycles for conventional rechargeable batteries, according to [the inventor] Eesha Khare of Saratoga, Calif. Supercapacitors also allowed her to focus on her interest in nanochemistry — "really working at the nanoscale to make significant advances in many different fields." To date, she has used [her] supercapacitor to power a light-emitting diode, or LED. The invention's future is even brighter. She sees it fitting inside cellphones and the other portable electronic devices that are proliferating in today's world, freeing people and their gadgets for a longer time from reliance on electrical outlets. "It is also flexible, so it can be used in rollup displays and clothing and fabric," Khare added. "It has a lot of different applications and advantages over batteries in that sense." Khare's invention won her the Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, conducted ... in Phoenix, Ariz.
Note: Now let's see if it actually makes it to market or is blocked by the companies that profit from selling many chargers. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson—by percentage (.738) the winningest coach in NBA history—is renowned for his ability to turn megastars into team players. And his secret is spiritual. “The most effective way to forge a winning team,” he writes in Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior, “is to call on the players' need to connect with something larger than themselves.” Before Jackson arrived, both the Bulls and the Lakers were teams that, despite the presence of breathtaking talent, had failed to achieve the harmony needed to win championships. Yet under his guidance, schooled in his characteristically unselfish, team-oriented style, they went on to record-breaking success. So what does this remarkable head coach have to say about the heightened group consciousness that can awaken when teams come together beyond the divisive forces of the ego? [Q.] In Sacred Hoops you write about “the energy that's unleashed when players put their egos aside and work toward a common goal.” You also refer to “a powerful group intelligence [that] emerges that is greater than the coach's ideas or those of any individual on the team.” What is that powerful energy and intelligence that emerges in a collective when the ego is set aside? PHIL JACKSON: When a player surrenders his self-interest for the greater good, his fullest gifts as an athlete are manifested. It's funny—by playing within his natural abilities, he activates a higher potential beyond his abilities, a higher potential for the team. It changes things for everybody.
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Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) is sometimes referred to as “sustainable”, “socially conscious”, “mission,” “green” or “ethical” investing. Socially responsible investors are looking to promote concepts and ideals that they feel strongly about. They accomplish this in 3 ways: 1-Investment in companies and governments that the investor believes best hold to values of importance to the investor. These include the environment, consumer protection, religious beliefs, employees’ rights as well as human rights, among others. 2-Shareholder advocacy; socially responsible investors proactively influencing corporate decisions that could otherwise have a large detrimental impact on society ... through various means including dialogue, filing resolutions for shareholders’ vote, educating the public and attracting media attention to the issue. 3-Community investing has become the fastest growing segment within SRI, with some $61.4 billion in managed assets. With community investing, investors’ capital is directed to those communities, in the U.S. and abroad, which are under served by more traditional financial lending institutions and gives recipients of low-interest loans access to not just investment capital and income but provides valuable community services that include healthcare, housing, education and child care. Over the last two years, SRI investing has grown by more than 22% to $3.74 trillion in total managed assets, suggesting that investors are investing with their heart, as well as their head.
Note: Interested in investing to reduce inequality? Check out the inspiring microcredit movement.
Remember the Roller Babies craze in 2009? That Evian video has been viewed more than 65 million times. Now, Evian Natural Spring Water has just launched a follow-up video, Baby & Me, and it's already got nearly 30 million views on YouTube. The new video, which features adults walking on a busy street when they suddenly see their "inner babies" in a storefront window reflection, launched simultaneously in 14 countries on Friday. The adult characters interact with their baby selves, mostly through dance. "You can't not smile watching this," said GMA anchor Lara Spencer this morning during a piece on the video. "This type of commercial is about happiness and energy," the ad's director, Remi Babinet, told GMA. Produced by creative agency BETC, and directed by We are from LA, the Baby & Me video is remixed by electronic music producer, Yuksek, notes Evian in a release about the ad. And the music? The '90s dance hit Here comes the Hotstepper serves as the soundtrack.
Note: Click on the link above to watch the video. For a video diving deeper into this by ABC, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
Fourteen years ago, Blanca Cecilia Lopez began combing the streets of [Bogota, Colombia] in search of sellable articles to feed her family. She typically earned only a few dollars a day scavenging bottles, cans, paper and any other reusable items that she could find. Two years ago, however, her life changed dramatically thanks to a grassroots organization that found her a position at a city recycling center with a monthly salary and health benefits. The 50-year-old mother of seven owes her new life to Nohra Padilla, who began organizing waste pickers like Lopez in 1990 into the Bogota Recyclers' Association. For her work, Padilla is one of six recipients of the  Goldman Environmental Prize. Over the years, the association, which has 2,000 members, has battled city officials and private sanitation companies vying to monopolize trash collection from Bogota's 8 million inhabitants. In the 1980s and 1990s, Padilla and other organizers were threatened by right-wing paramilitaries who regarded organizing the poor as subversive. Several waste pickers were murdered in what the militias called "social cleansing." A talent for organizing and motivating others emerged, turning Padilla into a leader of an estimated 17,000 waste pickers who are a common sight on Bogota streets pushing hand carts or riding on horse carts piled high with scavenged trash. "If she (Padilla) weren't around, the recyclers would have to compete with the big trash companies," said Federico Parra, regional coordinator for a global nonprofit that helps improve conditions for the working poor.
In writing the book Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become, here are 10 lessons I have learned: 1. It can be hard to talk about love in scientific terms because people have strong pre-existing ideas about it. Love, as your body experiences it, is a micro-moment of connection shared with another. 2. Love is not exclusive. In reality, you can experience micro-moments of connection with anyone -- whether your soul mate or a stranger. 3. Love doesn't belong to one person. Love is a biological wave of good feeling and mutual care that rolls through two or more brains and bodies at once. 4. Making eye contact is a key gateway for love. Meeting eyes is a key gatekeeper to neural synchrony. 5. Love fortifies the connection between your brain and your heart, making you healthier. When we ... learn ways to create more micro-moments of love in daily life, we lastingly improve the function of the vagus nerve, a key conduit that connects your brain to your heart. 6. Your immune cells reflect your past experiences of love. People who build more micro-moments of love in daily life also build healthier immune cells. 7. Small emotional moments can have disproportionately large biological effects. Little by little, love begets love by improving your health. 8. Don't take a loving marriage for granted. Love is something we should re-cultivate every single day. 9. Love and compassion can be one and the same. Compassion is the form love takes when suffering occurs. 10. Simply upgrading your view of love changes your capacity for it. When people take just a minute or so each day to think about whether they felt connected and attuned to others, they initiate a cascade of benefits.
Note: Barbara Fredrickson is the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology and director of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Urban homesteading differs from urban gardening in that it is a way of living that endeavors to be as self reliant as is possible in our modern age. The video [available at the above link] shows one family’s commitment to urban homesteading and how they have freed themselves from the urban rat race, grow their own food, and much, much more. In Pasadena, California, is a 4,000 sq. ft. urban homestead, owned by the Dervaes family. This homestead feeds a family of four, producing about 6,000 lbs. of food annually, on just 1/10th acre [1/25th hectare]. 63 year old Jules Dervaes, started this backyard urban farm 10 years ago. It is a deliberate throw back to the story days of self reliant rural America. Jules and his children grow almost all of the food they need and everyone pitches in. At the time of this video, they were also raising eight chickens, four ducks, and two goats. The ducks and chickens lay thousands of eggs a year and keep the bugs in check. Over 400 varieties of vegetables, fruits, and edible flowers are grown in this compact space. Enough [is grown] to feed themselves with plenty left over for local chefs looking for organic, pesticide-free produce. Front porch sales net the family about $20,000 a year, which they use to purchase things that they can not grow on their urban homestead, such as wheat, rice, and oats. In addition to growing their own food, Dervaes family has gone off the grid. Their ‘gizmos’ are all hand powered. What little electricity that they do use is generated by solar panels.
Note: Watch the full, nine-minute video at the link above to get a closer look at this urban homesteading lifestyle. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
In 1976, Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy — known as Dr. V — retired. He decided to devote his remaining years to eliminating needless blindness among India’s poor. Twelve million people are blind in India, the vast majority of them from cataracts, which tend to strike people in India before 60. Blindness robs a poor person of his livelihood and with it, his sense of self-worth; it is often a fatal disease. Dr. V started by establishing an 11-bed hospital with six beds reserved for patients who could not pay and five for those who would pay modest rates. He persuaded his siblings to join him in mortgaging their houses, pooling their savings and pawning their jewels to build it. Today, the Aravind Eye Care System is a network of hospitals, clinics, community outreach efforts, factories, and research and training institutes in south India that has treated more than 32 million patients and has performed 4 million surgeries. Aravind’s story is well-told in depth in a new book, Infinite Vision: How Aravind Became the World's Greatest Business Case for Compassion. Aravind is not just a health success, it is a financial success. Aravind’s core services are sustainable: patient care and the construction of new hospitals are funded by fees from paying patients. And at Aravind, patients pay only if they want to. The majority of Aravind’s patients pay only a symbolic amount, or nothing at all. Dr V was guided by the teachings of the radical Indian nationalist[, philosopher] and mystic Sri Aurobindo ... who located man’s search for his divine nature not in turning away from the world, but by engaging with it.
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