Wednesday, December 03, 2008

CNN Heroes of the Year: A Recap

Friday evenings give me the luxury of sleeping late in the night. For the following day, a Saturday, is rest day for people like me who works five days a week. I tuned in to CNN, my preferred news channel, last Friday evening and the running program at that time was an awarding ceremony of the Top Ten CNN Heroes of the Year.

All the heroes awarded on stage have their own story to tell; the reason why they were voted heroes; the remarkable cause they promoted, the helpful programs and projects they supported; the kinds of people they have helped; which gave them the chance to be selected and voted as Top Ten CNN Heroes of the Year.

To recap their triumphs and the laudable works and deeds each one of them had accomplished, I want to share with you who touch my inner soul and my whole being. As such, their list of achievements and accomplishments is worth of emulation.

To be accurate with what I am going to share to you, I have taken this short review from the net (CNN Website):

Top Ten Heroes of the Year

Tad Agoglia, Houston, Texas: Agoglia's First Response Team provides immediate help to areas hit by natural disasters. In a little more than a year, he and his crew have helped thousands of victims at more than 15 sites across the United States, free of charge.

We can be like Tad Agoglia. If we have the means, we can help natural disaster victims in our country, the Philippines. Our country is a typhoon and earthquake belt. That’s why we are prone to such natural calamities. And before we knew it, casualties almost number by the hundreds and even thousands. They need our help. Help while we can.

Yohannes Gebregeorgis, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Moved by the lack of children's books and literacy in his native Ethiopia, Gebregeorgis established Ethiopia Reads, bringing free public libraries and literacy programs to thousands of Ethiopian children.
Should anyone from among my friends comes across with this post, I encourage you to help our countrymen especially those who are in the hinterlands get at least a book. Donate a book and find ways how. In this way, they will have a chance to get educated even just by simple means. We also have Ethiopian communities in our country. Like Yohannes, we can help educate those who live in these communities.

Carolyn LeCroy, Norfolk, Virginia: After serving time in prison, LeCroy started the Messages Project to help children stay connected with their incarcerated parents. She and volunteer camera crews have taped roughly 3,000 messages from inmates to their children.

The desperate and ill-health conditions of those behind bars especially in our country is beyond imagination. Much more, they have limited or no communication at all with the families they left behind. If I were given a chance to help, I will set up a project like that of Carolyn LeCroy. It will give those in prison precious communications with their families, vis-à-vis, which will help them cope with the miserable situation they are in.

Anne Mahlum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: On her daily morning jogs, Mahlum used to run past homeless men. Today, she's helping to transform lives by running with them, and others as part of her Back On My Feet program.

Its a very simple achivement, yet it bears significance to others especially the homeless. Why not run for a cause? In Sanchez Mira, there’s the SMIG group (Sanchez Mira Integrated Group) which is very helpful during town activities, though not as similar as running for a cause. I salute the men behind this group. Keep on SMIG!

Liz McCartney, St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana: McCartney moved to New Orleans to dedicate herself to helping Hurricane Katrina survivors move back into their homes. Her nonprofit, St. Bernard Project, has rebuilt the homes of more than 120 families for free.

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was most devastating. Many Fil-Ams who permanently reside in New Orleans were victims of this unimaginable torture of nature to mankind. The devastation was beyond comprehension. Our love for our fellowmen was tested in this unforgettable event in human existence. Everybody extended help in anyway they can. And Liz McCartney is a living testament to it. May there be more Liz McCartney in our midst.

Phymean Noun, Toronto, Ontario: Growing up in Cambodia, Noun struggled to complete high school. Today, she offers hundreds of Cambodian children who work in Phnom Penh's trash dump a way out through free schooling and job training.

I am a teacher by profession, however I am not practicing my profession. I am underemployed. At times, I wish I could win in a million dollar lottery so that I can put up a school for the less-privileged, less-fortunate children in our community. There are many dole-outs from the government to help OSY’s, but its not enough. Dole-outs are even limited. After teaching them the basics of reading, writing and numbers, there’s no follow-up anymore. We need concrete results. I’ll pray hard that I’ll win in a lottery so that I can put up a concrete school and bring concrete results to our impoverished children.

David Puckett, Savannah, Georgia: Puckett started PIPO Missions to bring ongoing prosthetic and orthotic care to those in need. Since November 2000, he has helped more than 420 people in southeastern Mexico, free of charge.

Bringing a smile to a distorted face is quite a great mission like what David Puckett did to those people he helped in southeastern Mexico. We have a similar cause being done here in Sanchez Mira although a different kind of mission work. And I would like to commend the husband and wife tandem who does the volunteer work in the person of Drs. Melvin and Nancy Manuel. They offer free circumsicion to young children in Sanchez Mira every year during Holy Week. They’ve been doing this laudable mission for several decades now for the benefit of those who can’t afford the services of a paid doctor. I’m proud we have David Pucketts in Sanchez Mira, too.

Maria Ruiz, El Paso, Texas: Several times a week, Ruiz crosses the border into Juarez, Mexico, bringing food, clothing and toys to hundreds of impoverished children and their families.
The DSWD is an agency of the government who takes charge in the giving of dole-outs such as food, clothing and shelter to our less-fortunate countrymen. Maria Ruiz does the same using her personal money. Can we be like Ruiz also? Let us help our government from the burden of providing dole-outs to our poor people? Christmas is at the bend. Let’s make our fellow Filipinos happy even during christmastime only.

Marie Da Silva, Los Angeles, California: Having lost 14 family members to AIDS, the nanny funds a school in her native Malawi, where half a million children have been orphaned by the disease.

Marie Da Silva did not think of the dangers it may bring her by being in contact with children whose parents died of the dreaded disease. She, too has her own story to tell about her nightmares of AIDS that took the lives of 14 members of her family, which prompted her to help those half a million children orphaned to the disease. What she did is one great feat! Let us be like Da Silva.

Viola Vaughn, Kaolack, Senegal: The Detroit, Michigan, native moved to Senegal to retire. Instead, a group of failing schoolchildren asked her to help them pass their classes. Today, her 10,000 Girls program is helping hundreds of girls succeed in school and run their own businesses.

Life after retirement is stereotyped. You must enjoy life by cruising, by going to places around the world, by spending your retirement pay in a beautiful retirement villa, etc. But for Viola Vaughn, it’s a different story. She instead used her sunset years helping young girls succeed in school and have their own livelihood afterwards. What a great way to retire? I challenge the retirees to spend their remaining years in more meaningful, challenging causes because life after all is better and happily lived when spent helping others.

These are the heroes chosen via electronic votes and awarded by CNN. Are you like one of them? You might be one of them. I wish to be one like them, someday. . .

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