Monday, May 12, 2014

Mallika Dutt

Why Mallika Dutt is Extraordinary

Mallika Dutt is one of the most innovative human rights leaders of this generation. She is founder, president, and CEO of Breakthrough, an organization that aims to change the culture around human rights so that they are demanded and respected by all, and in particular to make violence against women and girls unacceptable. Prior to that, Mallika co-founded SAKHI for South Asian Women and was its founding director until 2001. A decade later, Breakthrough is now considered an award-winning producer of pop culture campaigns and on-the-ground leadership trainings that bring human rights into lives, homes, and communities and change the world for the better.


One of the most groundbreaking campaigns in the history of human rights was started by Breakthrough. They called it Bell Bajao (“Ring the Bell”). The Bell Bajao campaign became a hit with its compelling ads about “ringing the bell” to disrupt domestic violence, therefore doing our part in creating a community conscious of each person’s rights as a human being.
In its first campaign, Mann ke Manjeere, Breakthrough released a widely successful music album video in India that featured a Bollywood famous artist singing a song about a woman’s escape from the abusive hands of her husband. The Mann ke Manjeere video garnered many awards, including the National Screen Award for Best Music Video, a nomination for Best Indipop Music Video, and the Link TV Award for Best Music Video. Breakthrough also works on human rights in the United States. In past years, Breakthrough developed a campaign called #ImHere and a Facebook game called America 2049, both of which advocated for immigrant rights, especially women’s. Dutt explains #ImHere in an interview as follows:
"The war on women and the war on immigrants have coalesced in the lives of immigrant women and through #ImHere, we're asking everyone to stand up for immigrant women and their human rights."(SOURCE: IBN Live)
America 2049, on the other hand, is more than just a video game. Through it, Breakthrough hopes to reach wide audiences about human rights issues in the United States, through an exciting gameplay interface and characters played by celebrities familiar to fans of Alias, 24, Lost, and more.
Called by Newsweek/The Daily Beast a “breakout star” of the Women in the World conference, Dutt is a force to be reckoned with. Her hard work has earned her an International Humanitarian Award in 2013 and the Asian American Justice Center Courage Award in 2009, among many other honors. She was included in 50 Fearless Minds Changing the World by the Daily Muse and named one of the "50 coolest Desis in the world" by
Dutt has found a strong ally in technology and social media as a means of reaching people where they are and encourage them to participate in the protection of human rights and the drive to make violence against women unacceptable. While governments and state actors are mandated to protect human rights, we also need people to treat each other with the human rights values of dignity, equality, and justice.
In the words of Dutt, "Human rights start with you."

Top Reasons why Mallika Dutt is Extraordinary

  1. She founded Breakthrough, an award-winning human rights organization.
  2. Breakthrough won Gold for Best Integrated Campaign in Public Service, Appeals and Charity category at Gold at Abby Awards and received Radio & TV Advertising Practitioner’s Association of India Award for Best Film with a Social Message.
  3. She co-founded SAKHI for South Asian Women, now a highly regarded NGO itself.
  4. She is a lawyer by profession and an activist by destiny.
  5. She graduated Magna Cum Laude, International Relations from Mount Holyoke College and a Mary Lyon scholar.
  6. She has an honorary degree in Humane Letters from Mount Holyoke College and was awarded the Vanderbilt Medal for Extraordinary Contribution to the NYU Law School Community.
  7. She received the Asian American Justice Center Courage Award and the International Humanitarian Award.
  8. She was included in 50 Fearless Minds Changing the World by the Daily Muse and called by Newsweek/The Daily Beast a “breakout star” of the Women in the World conference.
  9. Upon establishing Breakthrough, she received the South Asian Women’s Creative Collective, SAWCC, Annual Achievement Award for outstanding contributions to the South Asian Community.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Doc Hendley's Wine to Water

The captivating story of an ordinary bartender who's changing the world through clean water.

Doc Hendley never set out to be a hero. In 2004, Hendley --- a small-town bartender --- launched a series of wine-tasting events to raise funds for clean-water projects and to bring awareness to the world's freshwater crisis. He planned to donate the proceeds through traditional channels, but instead found himself traveling to one of the world's most dangerous hot spots: Darfur, Sudan.

There, Doc witnessed a government-sponsored genocide where the number-one weapon wasn't bullets --- it was water. The Janjaweed terrorists had figured out that shooting up a bladder containing 10,000 liters of water, or dumping rotting corpses into a primary water source is remarkably efficient for the purposes of mass extermination. With limited funds, Doc realized that he couldn't build new wells costing $10,000 a pop, but he could hire local workers to restore a damaged well for a mere $50 each. He'd found his mission. Today, Doc and Wine to Water continue to help stricken peoples repair and maintain water- containment systems in places like Darfur, Cambodia, Uganda and Haiti.

Doc is a regular, rough-and-tumble guy who loves booze, music, and his Harley --- but he also wanted to help. Wine to Water is a gripping story about braving tribal warfare and natural disasters and encountering fascinating characters in far-flung regions of the world. It is also an authoritative account of a global crisis and an inspirational tale that proves how ordinary people can improve the world.

An Introduction to Wine to Water by Doc Hendley:

In 2003, Dickson “Doc” Hendley was like most American college students and just having fun. Yet, he remembers “a sinking feeling in my stomach, like I should be doing something better with my life” (p. 27). Within months, the college senior and popular bartender launched an organization that has already improved --- and saved --- thousands of lives in more than nine countries around the globe.

Despite being the son of a preacher, Doc doesn’t fit the Good Samaritan stereotype. Self-described as “rough around the edges” and tattooed, Doc took an early dislike to rules and developed a taste for whiskey and Harleys while still a teen. As his college graduation neared, Doc began to dread the prospect of life “in a cubicle” (p. 27).

By chance, Doc learned about an international aid organization named Samaritan’s Purse and began brainstorming ways that he could help the world’s needy. That night he woke up from his sleep with the words “wine to water” spinning around in his head.
Doc hit the Internet and learned that “unclean water kills a child every twenty seconds --- it’s more lethal than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined” (p. 30). He immediately began drawing on his connections to host a party benefiting clean water initiatives. Within a month, he’d raised twelve thousand dollars.

Suddenly, Doc had to decide where it should go. “I never wanted Wine to Water to be like one of those bullshit nonprofits … that used the majority of the donations to pay staff” (p. 37). After talking to a Samaritan’s Purse director, he unexpectedly walked out with a twelve-month job assignment in Darfur --- and the authority to distribute the money where he felt it was needed most.

Nothing could prepare Doc for what awaited him. He had flown from verdant North Carolina into a barren desert landscape where average daytime temperatures hit 120-degrees and government-sponsored Janjaweed soldiers had already killed a hundred thousand civilians and displaced more than a million more.

While Doc had fantasized about “instantly morphing into some superhero water savior” (p. 55), the reality was infinitely more complex. But as inexperienced as he was in some ways, Doc knew a lot about human nature: “It’s not so much about how good and fast you are at making a Fuzzy Navel; it’s about developing a good relationship with the people sitting in front of you at the bar” (p. 111).

So whether he was hiring staff, placating soldiers, or declining proffered brides, Doc tactfully negotiated an unfamiliar culture to do his real work. Slowly, Doc began repairing wells, installing water bladders, and teaching the locals how to maintain them --- sometimes while the bullets were being aimed at him.

In plainspoken and impassioned prose, Wine to Water shares the story of Doc’s unlikely transformation from a rough-and-tumble bartender to CNN Hero. As informative as it is harrowing and inspiring, Doc’s account of our global water crisis and his continuing quest to provide stricken peoples with clean water resoundingly proves that one man is capable of changing the world.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Story of Mr. Ron Finley

What an inspiring story I got from:


He was one of the founders of an organization, which was inspired by his “gangster attitude” towards gardening. Before his TED Talk, Ron and his organization had less than 30 volunteers; his TED appearance, however, gave it the media mileage it needed and multiplied its workforce more than ten-fold. According to Ron, we should break away from what food corporations dictate that we eat, as our growing indifference towards growing our own food only makes these capitalists richer.
Dubbed a “food desert,” South Central Los Angeles has one of the highest obesity rates in America. It’s a place where diabetes is also prevalent due to poor eating habits; without fresh fruits and vegetables around, people are left with few choices other than convenience stores and fast-food restaurants.
Ron’s garden inspired his neighbors (and many others after his TED talk) to think about what they eat. But what’s important to him now is that his garden enables him to silently help people who have hardly anything to eat:
“I remember this time, there was this mother and a daughter came, it was, like, 10:30 at night, and they were in my yard, and I came out and they looked so ashamed. So I’m like, man, it made me feel bad that they were there, and I told them, you know, you don’t have to do this like this. This is on the street for a reason. It made me feel ashamed to see people that were this close to me that were hungry, and this only reinforced why I do this, and people asked me, “Fin, aren’t you afraid people are going to steal your food?” And I’m like, “Hell no, I ain’t afraid they’re gonna steal it. That’s why it’s on the street. That’s the whole idea. I want them to take it, but at the same time, I want them to take back their health.” (SOURCE: TED Talks)
Yes, aside from having a green thumb, this “gangster gardener” also has a big heart.