It’s depressing to read the newspapers today. Almost all news seems to be bad news and can leave you with a sickening feeling in your stomach and a desperate plea: “Where are all the good guys? Where are the heroes when we need them?” Turns out, they are all amongst us. While the world around us seems to crumble, these everyday heroes are adamant to build something. While the rest of us are losing faith in humanity, these everyday heroes keep the hope alive, believing in the goodness of mankind and working towards the betterment of humanity.Here’s a loud cheer for these everyday heroes. Go on, read about them. We know you are dying for some good news.Sandeep Mehto: Bridging the gap between Bharat & IndiaSandeep was the first person in his family to attend college. In a country where 90% of the students drop out after class 12, this was no mean feat. Sandeep is a staunch believer in education being a great leveler of society; that only education can bridge the gap between Bharat & India.With this vision Sandeep founded Bharat Calling in 2009 to empower and guide rural students in the pursuit of higher education. Through camps conducted by volunteers in the interior regions of India, Bharat Calling has helped many students from poor socio-economic conditions seek admission in prestigious colleges around the country.Bharat Calling is currently raising funds to conduct camps for 1000 students.Swapnil Chaturvedi: Chief Toilet Cleaner aka ‘Poop Guy’Did you know that India is called the Open Defecation Capital of the World? While we hold our noses and turn our faces away, one man is out to change that ill-deserved title.Swapnil Chaturvedi was living the American Dream when a trip to India 2007 forced him to rethink his life. Swapnil decided he couldn’t sit back and watch while 60% of the country he called home continued to defecate in open. He packed his bags for home and started Samagra Sanitation in 2011 for what he claims was “the dignity of my daughter.”But what he started has helped keep the dignity of the many thousands of women who were hitherto walking long distances just to find a safe spot to relieve themselves. Till date, Samagra has built 120 “awesome sanitation services” to improve the living conditions of the urban poor. Swapnil proudly wears the title of “Chief Toilet Cleaner of Samagra” as he goes about changing people’s lives one toilet at a time. You can help Swapnil realise his vision here. Sheetal: Making her own music[caption id="attachment_5522" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Sheetal received her US visa on September 14, 2014 and will soon realize her big dream[/caption]“A prostitutes daughter will only be a prostitute” – Words Sheetal heard every day of her life as a child in Kamathipura, Asia’s largest sex district. But she didn’t let them faze her. Thanks to Kranti, an NGO that empowers girls from red-light areas to be agents of social change, Sheetal realized that she too had the right to dream, and her dreams could be reality too.Sheetal is a natural when it comes to rhythm and took to drumming like a fish to water. Many a music school in India refused to train her due to her lack of formal education. But that hasn’t stopped Sheetal from pursuing her dream. Today, the Levine School of Music in Washington D.C., USA, has accepted her application for their 1-year diploma program and she is all set to fulfill her dream of being a drummer.Sheetal’s dream is to empower other girls like her through music. She wants to eventually come back home to start a music program in Kamathipura and use music as a therapy and as a platform to fight for the rights of the girls from red-light areas. Do you want to help Sheetal realise her dream?Mohammad Saliah: Soldiering on against all oddsMohammad Saliah is an A list chess player, ranked 4th in the country. He has an international ranking of 1463. He can memorize up to 10 boards and play against 10 opponents at a time. And he is currently pursuing a degree in law.What’s the big deal, you might ask?Mohammad Saliah, born to a family of modest means in Calicut, trained himself to play chess. Today he works hard to support his aging parents and two visually challenged sisters. He has helped design chess interfaces that are accessible to visually challenged players. But his biggest dream is to start his own academy to train other chess players and to get a country of cricket lovers interested in a game of chess.Mohammad Saliah worked very hard to cultivate his methods and strategies and wishes to share this gift with the world.Oh, and did we mention he is 100% visually challenged?Head here to help Mohammad's dream see the light of day.Kailash Satyarthi: Noble long before Nobel[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Kailash Satyarthi - Noble before Nobel[/caption]Admit it, when 2014’s Nobel peace prize winners were announced, you first reaction was “Kailash who?”If there is one person who embodies the anonymous every day hero, it would be Kailash Satyarthi. Kailash quit his lucrative job as an Electric Engineer in 1980 to dedicate his life for the fight against child labour and the strides he has made in this direction can fill books. Through grass root activism brought about by the Global march against child labour started in 1998 by him, Kailash Satyrarthi has saved over 80000 children from slavery and helped educate and rehabilitate them.The road has been perilous. Satyarthi has been threatened with his life several times but this has not deterred him from founding the Bachpan Bachao Andolan, the Global Campaign for Education, the Rugmark Foundation and chairing the International Center on Child Labor and Education (ICCLE) in Washington, D.C. All his efforts led to the International Labour Organization adopting Convention No. 182 that prohibits any form of child labour.And our first reaction was, “Kailash who?!”Dr. Sunitha Krishnan: A roadblock to trafficking[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="2048"] Dr. Sunitha Krishnan: Crusader against sexual abuse[/caption]Dr. Sunitha Krishnan’s tryst with social activism began at age 8 when she started teaching dance to mentally challenged children. In 1996, fighting all odds, she founded Prajwala to rehabilitate women caught in sex trafficking and to date, Prajwala has rescued and rehabilitated 9500 survivors of sex trafficking.Wanting to desperately bring the topic of sex trafficking into public discourse, Dr. Sunitha staked everything she owned to make “Na Bangaaru Talli”, a telugu feature film, in 2014. The film went on to win several national and international awards. And despite cold shoulders from distributors, the film was successfully screened in Andhra Pradesh through a crowdfunding drive on Milaap.Dr. Sunitha Krishnan and Prajwala may have received several accolades from around the world for her work but she continues her heroic work silently knowing that her true reward is one less child and woman lost to sex trafficking.Dashrath Manjhi: Mountain Man of India[caption id="attachment_6501" align="aligncenter" width="1152"] Dashrat Manjhi - The Man Who Moved a Mountain[/caption]If you asked Dashrath Manjhi what it takes to carve a 360 ft long and 30 ft wide road through the hills, he would tell you: One chisel, one hammer, one spade and 22 years.But that would just be Dashrath Manjhi’s modesty talking.Before Dashrath picked up his chisel in 1959, the hills of Gahlaur Ghati stood in the way of everything from schools to hospitals to markets and even the fields. When Dashrath couldn’t get his wife to the hospital on time because of the dangerous trek through the hills, he decided to take matters into his own hands, literally.22 years of relentless chiseling resulted in a safer, wider route through the hills but Manjhi didn’t stop with that. He continued to work to uplift the people of his community till his final breath in 2007. Bureaucracy may have prevented Dashrath Manjhi from being awarded the Padma Bhushan that he rightfully deserves but to the people of his community, he will forever remain the hero who took on the mountains.
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