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Dr. Laura Stachel is the co-founder of the non-profit organization “WE CARE Solar.” She and herhusband, Hal Aronson, launched the organization to provide sustainable lighting systems to hospitals and clinics in developing countries where mortality rates due to childbirth are high. The “Solar Suitcase” units they have distributed to 27 countries have saved thousands of patients so far, even beyond mothers and their babies. The solar lighting system now enables clinics which lack electricity to continue their business during the night, which was previously an inconceivable feat.




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Marlice van Vuuren has the looks of a model. Google-ing her would give you the impression that she was a celebrity before she became a conservationist, but further reading belies that notion. Marlice has been a woman of the wildlife ever since she was a kid; it’s her love for animals that catapulted her to celebrity status. Angelina Jolie discovered her wildlife sanctuary when she filmed “Beyond Borders” in 2002. She fell in love with the place, and even gave birth to her child, Shiloh, in Namibia.


The Naankuse Foundation was established by Marlice and her husband, Rudie van Vuuren, in 2006. They focus on:

• A Lifeline Clinic which provides free primary healthcare and an ambulance service to the San community in Epukiro, in rural east Namibia. On average around 3,500 patients are seen each year, 84% of whom are San with 45% being children (a quarter of whom are under 5 years old). This is a vital service for this remote marginalised community.
• The Clever Cubs Pre-primary school which provides education to 11 children and support to a further 16 children who are in mainstream schools in Windhoek. These children are all family members of our employees and largely from the San community.
• Employment on all our sites for the San community.
• A wildlife sanctuary that rescues and rehabilitates orphaned or injured animals. Where possible we re-release these animals. If release is not possible we provide a loving home for these ambassador animals who help us to teach people about conservation.
• A carnivore research project which provides consultancies to farmers and landowners and advises them on issues of carnivore conflict mitigation. (SOURCE: TFWA)


In 2008, Philip Selkirk discovered Marlice’s and Rudie’s work, and was taken by Marlice’s personal struggles in achieving her goals. The documentary “Marlice – A Vision for Africa” tells her captivating story, from tending to her animals at the sanctuary to living a harmonious life with the San Community.

But even with help from the Jolie-Pitt Foundation and other partners, the couple still wants to do so much more. They are hoping to protect more animals and are looking into expanding their sanctuary so that wild lions, tigers, hyenas and cheetahs can roam freely and co-exist. Indeed, Marlice is a true-blue African.


  1. She co-founded the “N/a’an ku sê (Naankuse) Lifeline Clinic” with her husband, Rudie, and two other partners.
  2. She and her husband started “N/a’an ku sê Foundation” with the help of donors.
  3. Angelina Jolie is an international patron of their sanctuary.
  4. She started “N/a’an ku sê’s Carnivore Research Project” with her husband.
  5. She opened “Clever Cubs School” with her husband and the help of Clabile Trust.
  6. She was featured in an ad for Volkswagen with her pet cheetah, “Lucky.”
  7. Naankuse received the “International Health Promotion Award” (awarded first place in the prestigious Community Health Awards).
  8. She worked with Angelina Jolie on the film set of “Beyond Borders” by providing them with vultures from her sanctuary.
  9. She is one of the few white people who can speak the Bushman language fluently.
  10. A documentary of her life, “Marlice – A Vision for Africa,” was released in 2008.


ImageJimmy Donal Wales is an internet entrepreneur the co-founder of Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia that runs with an open management style. Times magazine named him in their list of ‘The 100 Most Influential People in the World’ in 2006.

Wales was born on 7th August 1966 in Huntsville, Alabama. He had a keen interest in general knowledge since he was a child. He accredits the Montessori Method of his schools education that was to spend a lot of time reading the Britannica’s and the World Book Encyclopedias. Wales went to Randolph School where he graduated at 16. He then enrolled in Auburn University to gain his bachelor’s degree. He received his master’s degree from University of Alabama. Jimmy Wales landed a job with Chicago Options Associates, a trading firm in Illinois. He recalls himself as being completely addicted to the internet. He even wrote computer codes as a leisure activity. Wales got inspired from Netscape’s outstanding public offering in 1995 and thus left the territory of financial trading to become an internet entrepreneur. The next year he ventured into a web portal named ‘Bomis’ that featured webrings generated by the users and erotic pictures. This however did not prove to be very successful. Although this project was not as fruitful as Wales had expected, it encouraged him to begin another endeavor, one that was also his passion; an online encyclopedia. He started ‘Nupedia’ in 2000 with Larry Sanger, a PhD student at Ohio State University, as its editor-in-chief. In 2001 an extreme programming expert, Ben Kovitz introduced the wiki concept to Wales. The main writing experts of Nupedia were not very interested in this idea because they believed it would harm the credibility of the encyclopedia.

Sanger and Wales both believed in this project thus they initiated it from another domain. Wales hoped that this would start the knowledge building that he had always wanted. Fortunately for the duo, the website had more articles than Nupedia in just a few days. Wales feared the fact that anyone could add whatever they wanted so much so that it had him awake at nights. However, the team of editors made sure that robust and good quality content was being added to the encyclopedia. There was some controversy between Wales and Sanger as Wales claimed to be the sole founder of the website. In 2003 Wales established the Wikimedia Foundation (a non-profit organization) in St. Petersburg, Florida. This was done in order to support the Wikipedia project along with other sister projects.

Jimmy Wales was listed in Time 100 ‘Scientists and Thinkers’ section in 2006. Forbes named him as one of ‘The Web Celeb 25’ and as one of the ‘Young Global Leaders’ in 2007. He has been honored with the ‘Pioneer Award’ and the ‘Gottlieb Duttweiler Prize’ in 2011. He has received other awards such as the ‘2009 Nokia Foundation’ annual award, the ‘Business Process’ award and ‘the 2008 Global Brand Icon of the Year Award’. He has also been awarded honorary degrees from Stevenson University, Amherst College, Knox College, MIREA University in Russia and Universidad Empresarial Siglo 21 of Argentina.

ImageI got this wonderful story from:

Kakenya Ntaiya underwent female genital mutilation at the age of 13. She opted not to run away, however, to avoid putting her father in a bad light. Another reason why she stayed was the allure of education; not a single woman in her Maasai community had made it to college. Rather, they are usually married-off at an early age. Kakenya herself was engaged to a six-year-old neighbor when she was only five years old. But this woman became the first to complete a college degree with the help of the Maasai community, and gave back by founding a school for girls called “The Kakenya Center for Excellence.”

Undergoing FGM

Kakenya grew up fully aware that she would soon marry a boy who lived next-door and, just like the other women of her Maasai community, serve her family for the rest of her life. But that did not sit well with the young girl who dreamt of becoming a teacher; getting married would stall her, if not stop her altogether, from becoming the person she wanted to be. Rather than walk away, however, she agreed to go through the rite of passage to prepare her for married life in exchange for a few more years in school.

When her father got sick, Kakenya braved to try her luck further. This time, she convinced all 16 of her community’s leaders to allow her to attend a college in the U.S. with the promise of returning one day to help her people.

Founding “The Kakenya Center for Excellence”

It was in the United States where Kakenya came across political terms such as “female genital mutilation,” “human rights” and “child marriages.” She realized that her people’s lack of education had kept them behind. Even worse, thousands of young girls are losing their clitorises and being forced to bear children, in spite of practically being children themselves. Kakenya decided to take on a whole nation and fight against ignorance by providing education to girls like her, and, once more, she appealed to the men who called the shots. They supported her, and “The Kakenya Center for Excellence” was born.

It’s a school for girls that not only gives them quality education, but also allows them to just be kids. Then the magic started happening – the once-timid children became confident. They discovered their talents, and now aim to become pilots, teachers and doctors, and dream just like Kakenya. Now, we hear men say this of her:

“We have several sons who have gone to the United States for school. Kakenya is the only one that I can think of that has come back to help us. What she tells us, it touches us. … She brought a school and a light and is trying to change old customs to help girls get a new, better life.” – Naleke, Maasai Tribal Leader (SOURCE: CNN)



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Why Ron Finley is Extraordinary

“People need to realize how powerful the transformation of soil can be. We’ve gotten so far away from our food source. It’s been hijacked from us. But if you get soil, plant something in it and water it, you can feed yourself. It’s that simple.” (SOURCE: The New York Times)

Without the trappings of fame, Ron Finley is just a father who cares about his sons’ health. He fashioned a garden out of his front lawn, just as he embellishes bare walls with graffiti. The result is a free source of food and an amalgam of life in the form of plants.

TED Speaker

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.

Top Reasons why Ron Finley is Extraordinary

  1. He planted fruits and vegetables in his front lawn to share with his neighbors.
  2. It inspired the founding of an organization in 2010.
  3. He owns his own clothing business, called “Dropdead Collexion.”
  4. He is currently working on “The Ron Finley Project” to help people get started with growing plants in their yards.
  5. He is a TED Speaker, and his videos have been viewed over one-million times.
  6. He is a graffiti artist.
  7. He owns a collection of “Black Entertainment memorabilia.”
  8. He designs fashion clothes for NBA players, Saks Fifth Avenue and Marcus Neiman, among many others.
  9. He has appeared on TV and been featured by reputable publications.
  10. He received the “Natural American Heroes Award” from Natural News.

Dean Ornish, MD

Posted: March 28, 2014 in Uncategorized



Dean Ornish, M.D., is the founder and president of the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute and Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Ornish received his medical training in internal medicine from the Baylor College of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and the Massachusetts General Hospital. He earned a B.A. in Humanities summa cum laude from the University of Texas in Austin, where he gave the baccalaureate address.

For over 34 years, Dr. Ornish has directed clinical research demonstrating, for the first time, that comprehensive lifestyle changes may begin to reverse even severe coronary heart disease, without drugs or surgery. Recently, Medicare agreed to provide coverage for this program, the first time that Medicare has covered a program of comprehensive lifestyle changes. He directed the first randomized controlled trial demonstrating that comprehensive lifestyle changes may stop or reverse the progression of early4stage prostate cancer. His current research showed that comprehensive lifestyle changes affect gene expression, “turning on” disease4preventing genes and “turning off” genes that promote cancer and heart disease, as well as increasing telomerase, an enzyme that lengthens telomeres, the ends of our chromosomes which control aging (in collaboration with Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2009).

He is the author of six best4selling books, including: Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease; Eat More, Weigh Less; Love & Survival; and his most recent book, The Spectrum.

The research that he and his colleagues conducted has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, The Lancet, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Circulation, The New England Journal of Medicine, the American Journal of Cardiology, The Lancet Oncology, and elsewhere. A one4hour documentary of their work was broadcast on NOVA, the PBS science series, and was featured on Bill Moyers’ PBS series, Healing & The Mind. Their work has been featured in all major media, including cover stories in Newsweek, Time, and U.S. News & World Report. He has written a monthly column for Newsweek and Reader’s Digest magazines and is currently Medical Editor of The Huffington Post, which has 240 million unique readers per month.

Dr. Ornish was appointed by President Clinton to the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy and appointed by President Obama to the White House Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health. He is a member of the boards of directors of the San Francisco Food Bank and the J. Craig Venter Institute. Dr. Ornish was elected to the California Academy of Medicine and chaired the Google Health Advisory Council 2007-9.

The Ornish diet was rated #1 for heart health by U.S. News & World Report in 2011.

He has received several awards, including the 1994 Outstanding Young Alumnus Award from the University of Texas, Austin; the University of California, Berkeley, “National Public Health Hero” award; the Jan J. Kellermann Memorial Award for distinguished contribution in the field of cardiovascular disease prevention from the International Academy of Cardiology; a Presidential Citation from the American Psychological Association; the Beckmann Medal from the German Society for Prevention and Rehabilitation of Cardiovascular Diseases; the “Pioneer in Integrative Medicine” award from California Pacific Medical Center; the Stanley Wallach Lectureship Award from the American College of Nutrition; the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement; a U.S. Army Surgeon General Medal; the Linus Pauling Award from the Institute for Functional Medicine; the Glenn Foundation Award for Research; the Bravewell Collaborative Pioneer of Integrative Medicine award; and the Sheila Kar Health Foundation Humanitarian Award from Cedars4Sinai Medical Center (Los Angeles). Dr. Ornish has been a physician consultant to President Clinton since 1993 and to several bipartisan members of the U.S. Congress, and he consulted with the chefs at The White House, Camp David, and Air Force One to cook more healthfully (199342000). He gave a keynote speech reviewing the science of integrative medicine at the Institute of Medicine’s first Summit on Integrative Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Ornish was selected as one of the “TIME 100” in integrative medicine; recognized as “one of the most nteresting people of 1996 by People magazine; honored as “one of the 125 most extraordinary University of Texas alumni in the past 125 years;” chosen by LIFE magazine as “one of the fifty most influential members of his generation;” and by Forbes magazine as “one of the seven most powerful teachers in the world.”


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Why Stephen Ritz is Extraordinary

Stephen Ritz is passionate about inciting passion among his students. Yes, he is a teacher, and calls himself the “oldest sixth grader.” He founded the “Green Bronx Machine,” a non-profit organization which had its humble beginnings at the Discovery School in the Bronx. This part of New York City is home to many gang wars, disturbed teens and endless fast-food chains; it’s certainly not an ideal place to raise healthy, promising kids. But lo and behold! Stephen transformed his once-violent students into responsible kids, building homes for the residents of the community and planting edible walls across the neighborhood. Stephen is a proud “conductor of this orchestra” of talent.

The “Green Bronx Machine” Stephen founded the “Green Bronx Machine” in 2010, rather through serendipity. He had always loved gardening, and considered maintaining one in his school to attract more students. The school had a dismal attendance rate of 40% at the time, but the garden worked, and was improved further by the edible walls of Green Living Technologies.

How did it change lives? Stephen explains:

“For many, the first thing that changed was attendance. We went from 40 to 93 percent — kids come early and stay late. School became a destination to attend as opposed to one that was avoided. Then, parents and the community got involved and it really took off.

Consequently, we are changing the way people think about their world and their relationship to it while moving people who are traditionally “apart from” success to becoming “part of” success in ways that are wholly inclusive and beneficial to all. Closer to home, we are changing eating habits, health outcomes, transforming landscapes and mindsets and driving academic engagement and competencies in ways we never imagined. It is all very visible – the students see it, grow it, feel it, taste it and own it; as a result it is self-sustaining and very inspiring! 25,000 pounds of Bronx vegetables later, my favorite crop remains organically grown citizens, graduates, voters and the next generation of “Amer-I-Cans!” We are proving that the Bronx CAN – Change Attitudes Now – and that we are poised, ready, willing and able to export our talent and diversity in ways that make dollars and a whole lot of sense. Realize this, we’ve been able to move Individualized Education Program (IEP)/English Language Learners (ELL) students – almost all formerly living in poverty with many homeless and/or in foster care — into living wage opportunities while attending school and doing it in ways that transform and benefit our entire environment. That is the promise of education and America. The greening of America starts with wallets, then hearts and then minds.” (SOURCE: Daily Edventures)

His initiative has created 2,200 youth jobs, which led to him winning the “US EPA Award” for transforming mindsets and landscapes in NYC. He also won the “ABC Above and Beyond Award” and received the “Chevrolet National Green Educator Award” in 2012. He is also now a Poptech Fellow.