You can choose from seven nominees vying for CNN’s “People Making a Difference.”
I have been watching CNN for a long time, and I love to discover and champion amazing people from all walks of life that are making a difference in the world. From doctors and educators to entrepreneurs and aid workers, CNN strives to highlight the social and humanitarian work of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Several years ago, during an assignment in Afghanistan, I discovered that the plan for the upcoming Afghan parliamentary elections was going terribly. At that time, I wasn’t an expert on the issue, but I knew that something needed to be done. I had a lot of experience with learning about new ways to teach our communities and was looking for a new way to give back. I approached Brian Gold, a former Peace Corps volunteer from Colorado, who could help me create a program that I had found successful in other cultures.
It was during this time that I learned the founding principle for a great volunteer organization: servant leadership. As my team developed our project, I learned that the cornerstone of its mission was connecting people to the future, regardless of their background, beliefs or social status. With humility and humility training, I was able to follow that lead and incorporated the service aspects of the EY’s definition of servant leadership into this project.
For over two years, we worked diligently to develop a database with millions of names. Once the process was completed, we proceeded to find out who exactly needed help. I spent weeks making countless phone calls and personal visits to make sure that the EY Project would be able to serve the needs of the country we were born and raised in.
We had to work hard to build trust, engage new people and be the main provider for Afghans’ basic needs. It took countless hours of arguing, explaining, enforcing rules and calling on experts in the field. But ultimately, we had over 4,000 volunteers who needed food and medical services, and a CEO who needed money and staff. The results have been incredible. Our project has distributed thousands of books and blankets, provided the most vital medical care and found an entire generation with a passion to contribute to a better life. In addition, over 12,000 Afghan children have been able to learn a new trade through our furniture assembly program, which we continue to run and expand.
CNN continues to recognize the truly extraordinary people who are making a difference in the world. I hope you vote for the CNN Hero I was so honored to serve. — Rajesh Menon