How They Changed Their World
You can change the world!! That was the battle cry of our American teachers in the Jesuit school I attended. Our teachers had high hopes for many of us 10 year old Filipino grade school boys just before World War II came around. For indeed, the young Philippines needed brave and creative citizens who would put their ideas to work for the benefit of their country..
When we hear the phrase change the world we often imagine people who are rich, famous, great and with exceptional skills and who are the most qualified to change the world.
But that is not so.
In fact, most change agents turned out to be simple and unknown folks from middle to lower levels of society, some of whom had not even reached higher education. Mr. Bornstein uses the phrase social entrepreneurs. They were people who had powerful ideas that if properly implemented would improve the lives of a great number of people in their respective communities.
For example, we have heard reports about American based Filipino physicians and surgeons who religiously devote weeks of their own time to conduct their annual missions in the Philippines performing surgical and other medical acts benefiting barrio folks too poor to seek that kind of help.
They are changing the world in their own way.
Then, there is the successful projects called Books for the Barrios by the Harrington family in California. This family take pains in collecting old books of fiction and non-fiction from various libraries and private individuals and who in turn ship the books to Philippine towns and barrios in order to assist in helping in all class levels of children that need such precious materials for their educational development.
And then there are the families who send balikbayan boxes often filled with non-monetary help to the less fortunate members of the community they used to live in before they migrated to the U.S.
In the book titled How to Change the World written and compiled by David Bernstein we find numerous cases and testimonials of ordinary folks from different countries doing extraordinary acts of courage and dedication to their craft or invention all designed to make a difference in their own world.
Looking at other countries, we find Fabio Rosa from Brazil who did something for the rural electrification needs of his town. Only 22 years old, Fabio saw the great need of his people for electric power. It began when Rosa received a phone call from one of his university classmates who invited him to Palmares do Sul, a rural municipality in Brazils south state. Rosa learned also that his friends father Ney Acevedo had been elected mayor of Palmares. Acevedo, former technical director of the states rice institute, had dinner with Rosa who delved deeply on the need for improving the lives of local villagers. After their talk Acevedo offered Fabio the post of Secretary of Agriculture. When Fabio reported for work on the first day he was officially designated in the post, he found no city hall, no records of municipal employeesnot even a pickup truck. As part of his position he had to talk to the villagers. He learned that when he asked farmers their priorities they spoke about educating their kids and escaping poverty and keeping their farms. Rosa then later found out that the villagers needed irrigation channels to raise their rice. He said that without water there was no production and no production means no income. Over the decades Brazils electrification standards were designed under a military regime. Fabio Rosa then thought of ways of getting electrification for much less cost. And he found it when one night on TV he was watching Ennio Amaral, a professor who had developed an inexpensive rural electrification system that used inexpensive materials and small transformers. With cheap electricity poor farmers could easily tap wells and irrigate their land and have ample water.
Jeroo Billimoria from India revolutionized their system of child protection. Considering the millions of children in India who live on the streets and work as underage laborers, Jeroo saw the need for a system that would be able to extend help to any of these during emergencies. Jeroo organized Childline in 1996 which was a 24 hour phone line from many slums across the city reporting injuries, abuse, abandonment, assault, tuberculosis, dysentery and AIDS. She amazed many outsiders on how such a system could work amidst the chaos in Bombay. Today Childline has branched out to eleven cities in India. Jeroo, 32 years old, meets with many of her boys who form teams and train working hand in hand with social workers and who respond to calls providing information to other street youths and transporting children to shelters, hospitals, or police stations.Childine is not a charity or a welfare service, Jeroo states. It is a rights service. We are a child service agency and Childline plays the lead role in all these cities.
Finally, we have this rugged Polish boy who enjoyed skiing and who, despite the hostile situation all over Europe during World War II was determined to pursue his career as a priest. He later showed his dedication and zeal as a priest and then was elected cardinal. When he was voted to be head of over a billion subjects, he ventured into numerous trips to do his mission in reaching out to as many other people in the world and won admiration not only of Catholics but people of other denominations. In effect, he arrested the onslaught of Communism.
His name Karol Józef Wojtyla, more popularly known throughout the world as Pope John Paul II.
Copyright © 2005 Philippine American Writers and Artists, Inc.