Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Social entrepreneurs

I saw quite an inspiring program on PBS the other day called "The New Heros". It profiled people who call themselves "social entrepreneurs" and use their talents to start businesses which are specifically designed to help marginalized people. One woman, Dina Abdel Wahab, started "The Baby Academy" in Cairo, Egypt, when she gave birth to a son with Down's Syndrome and realized there was no where in the current Egyptian educational system for him. In fact, Egypt is just now learning about disabilities and her work is doing a great deal to further disability education in all sectors.

Another inspiring woman, Inderjit Khurana, has opened as many "Train Platform Schools" in India as her limited resources allow. There are many Indian children who live in gangs and make their money begging, stealing or in prostitution. She has taken her schools right to the train platforms themselves, to better reach the children before they get involved in the illegal lifestyle.

Sompop Jantraka is in Thailand and is working to rescue girls from all over Asia who are sold by their parents to Taiwanese brothel owners. He provides education, a half way house, vocational training and official papers so that they can become functioning members of society.

It is so easy in this day and age to fall into despair. What was especially inspiring about these stories is that they take place in countries where there is so much need. These people didn't rely on a government that they saw as failing their people. Instead, they decided to do something about it, one child at a time.

Their stories reminded me of various orders of monks, brothers, and nuns who live in the inner cities of the U.S. and give up every comfort of life so that the people they minister to can find comfort.

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Dymphna's favorite quotes

"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

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