Can We Really Make The World A Better Place?

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The other night I had the pleasure of meeting Maggie Doyne, the founder of The BlinkNow Foundation, who is truly changing the world one child at a time.  At the age of 27, Maggie has 42 Nepalese children who call her mom and live with her in Kopila Valley Children’s Home, which was built brick-by-brick by Maggie and the local community in Nepal. Maggie has also built the Kopila Valley Primary School, which is attended by 400 Nepalese children, and a women’s health clinic. Maggie truly believes that if every child in the world is provided with their most basic needs and rights—a safe home, medical care, an education, and love, they will grow to be leaders and end cycles of poverty and violence in our world.

A few nights later, I had the pleasure of introducing Maggie to Maro Chermayeff, the Executive Producer and Director of the movie Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women. Maro has traveled all over the world with award winning journalist Nicholas D. Kristof bringing to light dramatic stories of oppressed women and children, and introducing us to people that make a difference.

I was honored and overwhelmed to be sitting with these two women who are having such an important positive impact on the world.  At the age of 27, Maggie is having such a profound impact on the children of Nepal, and Maro is preparing to leave to film in Haiti and parts of Africa.  At one point in the evening I blurted out, “I need to do more.  I don’t think I am capable of doing what either of you do everyday.”  Maro turned to me and said, “It doesn’t matter what you do.  Just do something.  One act. One thing that makes the world a better place.  Just something. That will make all the difference.”

I think that is why some of us don’t act because we feel that our small acts won’t make a dent in the numerous problems the world faces. But Maybe what Maro said to me is true: every act does matter. It reminds me of the story about the Boy and the Starfish.  The story is told as follows:

A man was walking along a deserted beach at sunset. As he walked he could see a young boy in the distance, as he drew nearer he noticed that the boy kept bending down, picking something up and throwing it into the water.
Time and again he kept hurling things into the ocean. As the man approached even closer, he was able to see that the boy was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and, one at a time he was throwing them back into the water.

The man asked the boy what he was doing, the boy replied, “I am throwing these washed up starfish back into the ocean, or else they will die through lack of oxygen. “But”, said the man, “You can’t possibly save them all, there are thousands on this beach, and this must be happening on hundreds of beaches along the coast. You can’t possibly make a difference.”
The boy looked down, frowning for a moment; then bent down to pick up another starfish, smiling as he threw it back into the sea. He replied, 


“I made a huge difference to that one!”

If you are interested, you can check out the work that Maggie is doing in Nepal through The BlinkNow Foundation and help her build a high school for the beautiful children.  You could also find something to do in your neighborhood, local school or charity, or even help an elderly neighbor.  If we all create more acts of kindness each day MAYBE we can make a difference and actually make the world a better place!!  It is DEFINITELY worth a try!!

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

Last night I had the honor of attending a special preview of the PBS documentary film Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. The film was inspired by the widely acclaimed book of the same name by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.  The event was hosted by the Ford Foundation and was moderated by award-winning journalist Ann Curry.  The screening included exclusive footage and conversations with women’s rights leaders and activists who are featured in the film.

Maro Chermayeff, the Executive Producer and Director of the documentary, filmed the two part series in 10 different countries.  The film follows Nicholas Kristof and celebrity activists America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union and Olivia Wilde on a journey to tell the stories of inspiring, courageous women fighting against oppression all over the world.

As I watched segments of the film and listened to the panelists, the message became very clear.  The problems of sex trafficking and forced prostitution, gender-based violence, and maternal mortality — which needlessly claim one woman every 90 seconds — present to us one of the most vital opportunities of our time: the opportunity to make changes to the way women are treated around the world.

It was very inspiring to hear Nicholas Kristof say that he feels hopeful that change is happening and there is more to come. Kristof said that no country can get ahead if it leaves half the country behind; women need their human rights and socio-economic rights protected in every society for there to be stability in any given country and in the world.

This is a film that should be watched by us all.

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide airs on October 1 and October 2 on PBS at 9 pm eastern time.