October 16, 2012 by Krista Morgan
When I think of a hero, I tend to think of someone who can fly or someone who owns a batmobile. But that was before I learned about CNN Heroes. Since 2007, everyday people are nominated as heroes for their extraordinary efforts to help change the world.
These are some of the people voted as the top 10 heroes of 2012 (as voted by the CNN global audience.)
Pushpa Basnet was shocked to learn that children in Nepal were living in prisons with their parents. In 2005, she started a children’s center that has provided housing, education and medical care to more than 140 children of incarcerated parents. “I always had a dream to build our own home for these children, and I want to rescue more children who are still in prisons,” Basnet said.
Catalina Escobar is helping young moms in Colombia, where one in five girls age 15-19 is or has been pregnant. Since 2002, her foundation has provided counseling, education and job training to more than 2,000 teenage mothers. “Teenage pregnancy is a world poverty problem, and we have developed models of intervention that break the cycle,” Escobar said. “I want to share it with people around the world.”
Thulani Madondo struggled as a child growing up in the slums of Kliptown, South Africa. Today, his Kliptown Youth Program provides school uniforms, tutoring, meals and activities to 400 children in the community. “We’re trying to give them the sense that everything is possible,” he said.
Razia Jan is fighting to educate girls in rural Afghanistan, where terrorists will stop at nothing to keep them from learning. She and her team at the Zabuli Education Center are providing a free education to about 350 girls, many of whom wouldn’t normally have access to school. “This honor is a God-given gift that will make it possible for me to continue to give a ray of hope to these girls,” Jan said. “My goal is to break the cycle of violence.”
In memory of his daughter, who was killed by a drunken driver in 2007, Leo McCarthy started Mariah’s Challenge. The nonprofit gives college scholarships to teenagers who pledge not to drink while they’re underage. Nearly $150,000 in scholarship money has been awarded. “We can change an apathetic culture of teenage drinking and driving,” McCarthy said. “Hopefully one day soon we will not need Mariah’s Challenge.”
All 10 nominees will be honored at “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute,” a globally broadcast event that airs live on December 2nd. Through November 28, you can vote for your favorite hero at CNNHeroes.com.
At the tribute show, hosted by Anderson Cooper in Los Angeles, all 10 nominees will receive $50,000. One of the top 10 will be named CNN Hero of the Year and receive an additional $250,000 to continue their work.
All this hero-browsing makes me warm and fuzzy and restores my faith in humanity. Well done, nominees.
(Photo credit: CNN)