Inspiring News Stories
Excerpts of Highly Inspiring News Stories in Major Media
Below are one-paragraph excerpts of highly inspiring news stories from the major media. Links are provided to the original stories on their media websites. If any link fails to function, click here. The inspiring news story summaries most recently posted here are listed first. You can explore the same list with the most inspiring stories listed first. See also a concise list providing headlines and links to a number of highly inspiring stories. May these articles inspire us to find ever more ways to love and support each other and all around us to be the very best we can be.
Jeroo Billimoria is addressing the people at the bottom of the world’s economic pyramid: children in the developing world. “If you want to break poverty, don’t start with the adults. Start with the young people,” she says. Billimoria, 47, is a Mumbai-born serial social entrepreneur whose latest project is ... to bring hundreds of millions of children into the world’s financial system. Billimoria started working with street kids in India 20 years ago, which led her to found ... Child Helpline International, which now operates in 153 countries. “These street kids - 12 to 14 years old - would earn 100 rupees a day ($1.50). And then at the end of the day ... they had nowhere to put the money and feared it would be stolen if they didn’t spend it.” That led to her next effort, Aflatoun, which encourages financial literacy and savings among children. With her latest launch, Child & Youth Finance International ... Billimoria is aiming to scale up such efforts by enlisting banks and governments. “Currently, it is easier for a child to get a credit card than it is to get a savings account,” she says. Products like a simple passbook savings account, or a mobile version thereof ... are difficult to find, even in some of the most heavily banked countries in the world. After consulting with more than two dozen central banks, C&YFI has spelled out child-friendly criteria - no (or very small) minimum deposit, communication in clear language, minimal fees. Then it encourages banks to roll out the products that make sense for them.
Note: For more, read this inspiring article written by Ms. Billimoria.
A hard-hitting video advertisement of a suicide bomber being challenged by victims of terrorism has gone viral in the Middle East. Kuwaiti telecom company Zain launched the TV ad on Saturday at the start of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Muslim calendar, in an effort to counter terrorism. Since then, the three minute music video has been viewed nearly 2.4 million times on YouTube. The message of the company's ad is unmistakeable. "Worship your God with love, with love not terror," sings Hussain Al Jassmi, an Emirati star famous in the region. "Be tender in your faith, gentle not harsh. Confront your enemy, with peace not war." Ramadan is typically a huge month for TV audiences as families gather to break their dawn-to-dusk fast and watch TV shows together. Advertisers spend a large proportion of their budget during the month. Zain has struck a chord before with its creative ads. Its spot last year carrying a message of peace was viewed 13 million times while its Eid holiday ad, which marked the end of Ramadan, had more than 24 million views. This latest project recreates the aftermath of a bus bombing as the suicide bomber walks through the carnage. The terrorist recites Islamic phrases but he is corrected by those sitting in front of him. The ad also features survivors of previous attacks including a man from the blast at a Kuwaiti mosque in 2015 and a bride from an attack on a wedding in Amman, Jordan, in 2005.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
There was a time when truck driver Kevin Kimmel knew little about the scourge of human trafficking. That all changed when he pulled into a gas station [and] a "kind of unusual" family recreational vehicle parked nearby caught his eye. Kimmel ... saw what he thought was a "minor female" appear from behind [a] curtain before abruptly disappearing. He immediately [called] the local sheriff. Police cars were soon on the scene. He later saw on the news that the woman he spotted was a 20-year-old sex trafficking victim. She had been lured away from her home in Iowa, held against her will and subjected to ... forced prostitution. Yet without the concern or quick thinking of Kimmel, she may never have been found. Truckers ... are increasingly seen as operating on the front line in the fight against human trafficking. Kimmel, who still drives a truck and speaks about his experiences at anti-trafficking events around the country, says that truckers tend to spend a lot of time in the places that victims pass through given the transient nature of their job. "[Traffickers] are constantly moving these people," he explains. "But when you're moving them, then you come into my world. If we know the signs and are vigilant then we can make a big piece of this problem go away." This is a point echoed by Kendis Paris of anti-trafficking charity Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT). Her organization seeks to educate truckers about what to look out for, how to report suspected incidences of trafficking and why it is important to do so.
Note: Learn about the inspiring Truckers Against Trafficking movement and watch the excellent video there.
Scotland had "another extraordinary month" for renewable energy in May, according to environmental groups. Wind turbines alone provided enough electricity to supply 95% of Scottish homes. WWF Scotland analysed renewables data, [and] found that in several parts of Scotland, homes fitted with solar PV panels had enough sunshine to generate more than 100% of the electricity needs of an average household. Wind turbines provided 863,495 MWh of electricity to the National Grid during May, an increase of almost 20% compared to May 2016 when wind energy provided 692,896 MWh. Overall the data showed that wind generated enough output to supply 100% or more of Scottish homes on 11 of the 31 days in May. Dr Sam Gardner, acting director of WWF Scotland, said: "The global energy revolution is unstoppable and continues at pace here in Scotland. "On one day in particular, 15 May, output from turbines generated enough electricity to power 190% of homes or 99% of Scotland's total electricity demand. Month after month, renewables play a vital role in cutting carbon emissions and powering the Scottish economy." Homes with solar PV (photovoltaic) panels generated over 100% of average household electricity needs in Aberdeen, Dumfries, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Lerwick. Dr Gardner added: "Thanks to a super sunny month, solar was on sizzling form and could have met more than 100% of household electricity demand in towns and cities across Scotland."
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
When her eldest son was in elementary school in the Oakland Unified School District, Ruth Woodruff became alarmed by the meals he was being served at school. A lot of it was frozen, processed foods, packed with preservatives. So in late 2008, she and a group of parents got together to urge the school district to reconsider how and where it was buying the food it served students. Now, five years after the district responded by overhauling the menus at its 100-plus schools - serving less meat and adding more fruits and vegetables - a new report has revealed some surprising results. The study by the environmental nonprofit, Friends of the Earth (FOE), found that the district’s Farm to School initiative not only provided its 48,000 or so students with access to healthier foods, but that between 2012 and 2015 its overall food costs declined and its carbon footprint shrank. The [Farm to School] program saves the district money because cooks prepare school meals from scratch. The lunch menu in OUSD schools transformed from a smorgasbord of processed foods to local, organic options. School cooks season and roast antibiotic-free chicken in-house, instead of heating up pre-cooked drumsticks. They also substitute frozen vegetables with fresh sides, like carrot salads made from scratch. In addition to a healthier menu, students get to go on field trips to local farms and take cooking classes through the program.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
A Saudi billionaire has announced one of the biggest philanthropic gestures in history, promising to donate all his $32bn (Ł20bn) wealth to charity over the coming years. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a 60-year-old magnate who is a nephew of the late King Abdullah, said he would channel the money through his own Alwaleed Philanthropies organisation. The money will go to programmes promoting health, eradicating disease, modernisation, intercultural understanding and empowering women, he said. “This donation will be allocated according to a well-devised plan throughout the coming years,” the prince said in a statement. “Philanthropy is a personal responsibility, which I embarked upon more than three decades ago and is an intrinsic part of my Islamic faith. With this pledge, I am honouring my life-long commitment to what matters most – helping to build a more peaceful, equitable and sustainable world for generations to come.” The prince’s move will be modelled on the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, which last year donated $4bn to various causes. Gates said Alwaleed’s decision “is an inspiration to all of us working in philanthropy around the world.” Gates, who set up his foundation in 2000, has signed up more than 100 billionaires, including Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Bloomberg, Richard Branson and George Lucas, to giving away half their fortunes to charity.
In northern South Africa, former soldiers are fighting both the illegal wildlife trade and the twin scourges of unemployment and PTSD. The job of [Ryan] Tate, a 32-year-old former US Marine, and the group of US military veterans he has assembled in a remote private reserve in the far north of South Africa is simple: keep the rhinos and the rest of the game in the bush around their remote base alive. The men are not mercenaries, or park rangers – they work for Tate’s Veterans Empowered To Protect African Wildlife (Vetpaw), a US-based nonprofit organisation funded by private donations. All have seen combat, often with elite military units, in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. The scale of the challenge of protecting South Africa’s rhinos is clear to everyone, with a rise in poaching in recent years threatening to reverse conservation gains made over decades. Patchy law enforcement, corruption and poverty combine to exacerbate the problem. Tate founded Vetpaw after seeing a documentary about poaching and the deaths of park rangers in Africa. His team now work on a dozen private game reserves covering a total of around 200,000 hectares in Limpopo, the country’s northernmost province. But if one aim of Vetpaw is to counter poaching, another is to help combat veterans in the US, where former servicemen suffer high levels of unemployment and mental illness. “Everyone gets PTSD when they come back from war … I saw a need in two places and just put them together,” says Tate.
While teaching in Uganda in 2010, American college student Kathy Ku noticed that both she and her host family were getting sick a lot from drinking the water. She kept thinking about the problem even after she was back in school at Harvard University, designing a ceramic water filter and getting other students involved. She [then] took a year off to pursue the idea in earnest. Ku wasn’t aiming just to bring water filters into Uganda. She wanted to actually make them there, sourcing the needed clay and sawdust locally. Now, five years after that exploratory visit during her year off, Ku and co-founder John Kye have a full-fledged water filter factory near Kampala. Their organization, Spouts, has grown to more than 40 staffers and distributed about 14,000 ceramic filters, which remove 99.9 percent of bacteria. "There’s this method of cleaning your drinking water by leaving it out in clear plastic bottles in the sun. So I figured, OK, let me try that. I took a swig of the water and essentially spit it back out because it tasted like burnt plastic, and it was really warm," [said Kathy]. "I thought there had to be a better solution that people would actually like to use." Our [new] factory has the capacity to make 10,000 filters a month. We’re closer to 1,500 to 2,000 filters a month now, but ... it has the machinery and the capacity to do a lot more."
Note: Don't miss the National Geographic footage of this amazing project at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Nearly five years ago, Charles F. Feeney sat in a cushy armchair in an apartment on the east side of Manhattan, grandchildren’s artwork taped to the walls, and said that by the end of 2016, he was going to hand out the last of a great fortune that he had made. It was a race: Mr. Feeney was then 81, and Atlantic Philanthropies, a collection of private foundations he had started and funded, still had about $1.5 billion left. Writing checks willy-nilly was not Mr. Feeney’s way. Last month, Mr. Feeney and Atlantic completed the sprint and made a final grant, $7 million to Cornell University, to support students doing community service work. He had officially emptied his pockets, meeting his aspiration of “giving while living.” Altogether, he had contributed $8 billion to his philanthropies, which have supported higher education, public health, human rights and scientific research. None of the major American philanthropists have given away a greater proportion of their wealth, and starting in 1982, Mr. Feeney did most of this in complete secrecy, leading Forbes magazine to call him the “James Bond of philanthropy.” For years, Atlantic’s support came with a requirement that the beneficiaries not publicize its involvement. Beyond Mr. Feeney’s reticence about blowing his own horn, “it was also a way to leverage more donations - some other individual might contribute to get the naming rights,” said Christopher G. Oechsli, the president and chief executive officer of Atlantic.
He has been beaten, threatened and imprisoned. But the former child soldier and winner of this year's Goldman Environmental Prize says he will not stop until those wanting to destroy the Democratic Republic of Congo's protected wildlife "are held responsible for their actions." "Even if I or others are not able to (make this happen)," says Rodrigue Mugaruka Katembo, "then the future generations will have this information and will do it." Katembo ... has been awarded the top environmental prize in recognition of the heroism he showed in preventing oil exploration inside Virunga - Africa's oldest national park. His dangerous undercover investigations exposed bribery and corruption among officials. The park is home to a quarter of the world's last remaining mountain gorillas, there are less than 900 left globally. Covering the size of a small country, Virunga is more than 3,000 square miles packed with volcanoes, lush forests and mountain glaciers that tear through the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Rwanda. As a park ranger, Katembo has one of the most dangerous jobs in the region. Amidst political instability, armed poachers and rebels - who have been warring in the park for the past 20 years - outnumber park rangers ten to one. Protecting Virunga hasn't been easy. In 2013, Katembo was arrested and held for 17 days [after attempting] to stop construction of an oil communication device within the park. Local chiefs have [also] offered him bribes, "to help them get oil exploration going in the park," he says.
Note: A Netflix documentary called "Virunga" follows Katembo, colleagues André Bauma, Emmanuel du Merode and French investigative journalist Mélanie Gouby, as they battle oil exploration and armed conflict in the park.
Just a few years ago, in the depths of its worst drought in at least 900 years, Israel was running out of water. Now it has a surplus. That remarkable turnaround was accomplished through national campaigns to conserve and reuse Israel’s meager water resources, but the biggest impact came from a new wave of desalination plants. Desal works by pushing saltwater into membranes containing microscopic pores. Breakthroughs in membrane technology ... have made desalination much more efficient. Israel now gets 55 percent of its domestic water from desalination. Water stress has been a major factor in the turmoil tearing apart the Middle East, but [Edo] Bar-Zeev [with the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research] believes that Israel’s solutions can help its parched neighbors, too - and in the process, bring together old enemies in common cause. Bar-Zeev acknowledges that water will likely be a source of conflict in the Middle East in the future. “But I believe water can be a bridge,” he says. Bar-Zeev has ambitious plans for a Water Knows No Boundaries conference in 2018, which will bring together water scientists from Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza for a meeting of the minds.
India has cancelled plans to build nearly 14 gigawatts of coal-fired power stations – about the same as the total amount in the UK – with the price for solar electricity “free falling” to levels once considered impossible. Analyst Tim Buckley said the shift away from the dirtiest fossil fuel and towards solar in India would have “profound” implications on global energy markets. According to his article on the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis’s website, 13.7GW of planned coal power projects have been cancelled so far this month – in a stark indication of the pace of change. In January last year, Finnish company Fortum agreed to generate electricity in Rajasthan with a record low tariff, or guaranteed price, of 4.34 rupees per kilowatt-hour. At the time analysts said this price was so low would never be repeated. But, 16 months later, an auction for a 500-megawatt solar facility resulted in a tariff of just 2.44 rupees – compared to the wholesale price charged by a major coal-power utility of 3.2 rupees (about 31 per cent higher). “For the first time solar is cheaper than coal in India,” Mr Buckley said. “Measures taken by the Indian Government to improve energy efficiency coupled with ambitious renewable energy targets and the plummeting cost of solar has had an impact on existing as well as proposed coal fired power plants, rendering an increasing number as financially unviable ... because of the prohibitively high cost of imported coal relative to the long-term electricity supply contracts”.
He has restored eyesight to more than 100,000 people, perhaps more than any doctor in history. His patients ... stagger and grope their way to him along mountain trails from remote villages, hoping to go under his scalpel. A day after he operates to remove cataracts, he pulls off the bandages - and, lo! They can see clearly. At first tentatively, then jubilantly, they gaze about. A few hours later, they walk home, radiating an ineffable bliss. Dr. Sanduk Ruit, a Nepali ophthalmologist ... has pioneered a simple cataract microsurgery technique that costs only $25 per patient and is virtually always successful. Indeed, his “Nepal method” is now taught in United States medical schools. In the United States, cataract surgery is typically performed with complex machines. But these are unaffordable in poor countries, so Dr. Ruit [pioneered a] small-incision microsurgery to remove cataracts without sutures. At first, skeptics denounced or mocked his innovations. But then the American Journal of Ophthalmology published a study of a randomized trial finding that Dr. Ruit’s technique had exactly the same outcome (98 percent success at a six-month follow-up) as the Western machines. One difference was that Dr. Ruit’s method was much faster and cheaper. He founded the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, which ... conducts eye surgery on 30,000 patients annually, [as well as] manufactures 450,000 tiny lenses a year for use in cataract surgery, keeping costs to $3 a lens compared to $200 in the West.
Note: Your direct donation to help this man can cure blindness for many people. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Founder and principal of San Francisco’s Life Learning Academy, Dr. Teri Delane says that the success of the school that serves the city’s highest-risk, highest-need students can be replicated. The school tracks a 99% graduation rate with 85% of the students going on to college. The kids that do so well here [have] histories of school failure, truancy, arrest and substance abuse. The ones that traditional school settings can’t provide for. [Life Learning Academy] has it roots in the Delancey Street Foundation, a well-known San Francisco-based self-help program for drug addicts and ex-offenders. Delane ... has first hand experience of the Delancey Street program - entering the program as an addict herself. Delane incorporated practices of the program that would could be integrated into a school environment: creating community, engagement, leadership, dress code and working toward rewards. And woven through it all is Delane’s philosophy. “What we do at the school is a circle around the kids with a number of things that have to be included in their lives in order for them to have a full life: education, a job, having money and ... learning how to give back,” she said. “I teach that the way you get is by giving. Not by sitting around talking about your problems. We don’t stay stuck in our past.” All the students know Delane’s background, see what she has accomplished and witness her giving back every day.
Tiny houses are closer than ever to being a reality in Atlanta. Last week, the Atlanta City Council voted on and approved an amendment to city zoning laws allowing “accessory dwelling units.” Local advocacy group Tiny House Atlanta called it “a great step in the right direction.” The language in the amendment ... carves out space for accessory dwelling units of larger main structures. A tiny house counts as one of these secondary units if it is less than 750 square feet and has its own kitchen. The amendment also allows “accessory dwelling units without off-street parking on parcels without a curbcut or parcels without off-street parking,” making the affected areas more attractive to car-less Atlantans. While the change sets out possibilities for tiny houses that are satellites of existing homes, it does not allow for standalone tiny homes on their own lots. The new language specifically prohibits subdividing accessory units from the primary house. It also says nothing about tiny homes on wheels. Many tiny home owners make their homes into RVs, which subject them to a whole separate set of rules. Still, tiny house advocates said they are happy with the changes. “The sky’s the limit to what’s possible,” Atlanta city councilman Kwanza Hall, the bill’s sponsor, [said]. “It’s just up to us as a community to figure out what we want to do, what we envision in the future, and opening up as many possibilities as we can dream up.”
Children are not often invited to speak to the United Nations General Assembly. But there stood Felix Finkbeiner ... with a somber question about climate change. “We children know adults know the challenges and they know the solutions,” he said. “We don’t know why there is so little action.” At the time ... Finkbeiner was four years into leading a remarkable environmental cause that has since expanded into a global network of children activists working [to reforest] the planet. Today, Finkbeiner is 19 - and Plant-for-the-Planet, the environmental group he founded, together with the UN’s Billion Tree campaign, has planted more than 14 billion trees in more than 130 nations. The group has also pushed the planting goal upward to one trillion trees - 150 for every person on the Earth. The organization also prompted the first scientific, full-scale global tree count, which is now aiding NASA in an ongoing study of forests’ abilities to store carbon dioxide. In many ways, Finkbeiner has done more than any other activist to recruit youth to the climate change movement. Plant-for-the-Planet now has an army of 55,000 “climate justice ambassadors,” who have ... become climate activists in their home communities. Most of them are between the ages nine and 12. Meanwhile, he’ll keep giving speeches. “It is in our own self-interest to get children to act,” he says. “At the same time, I don’t think we can give up on this generation of adults. All we can do is push them in the right direction.”
Note: Watch this incredible young leader boldly address the United Nations.
A community college reform group has selected a handful of schools in Virginia and Maryland to develop degree programs using open-source materials in place of textbooks, an initiative that could save students as much as $1,300 a year. Such open educational resources - created using open licenses that let students download or print materials for free - have gained popularity as the price of print textbooks have skyrocketed, but courses that use the materials remain a novelty in higher education. Achieving the Dream, an education advocacy group based in Silver Spring, Md., aims to change that by offering $9.8 million in grants to support the development of open-source degree programs at 38 colleges in 13 states. Officials at Achieving the Dream say there are enough open-source materials to replace textbooks in all required courses for degrees in business administration, general education, computer science and social science. The initiative will [benefit] at least 76,000 students. The schools will turn the material into a digital library for public consumption. Print textbook prices have climbed 82 percent in the past decade, [and] can account for a third of the costs community college students encounter.
The world finds itself in an age saturated with anxiety - at least, that’s the sense created by the daily deluge of news portraying a grim present of economic hardship, global tensions, terrorism, and political upheaval. The five-year-old site Upworthy doesn’t want you to see the world that way. In March of 2012, Eli Pariser - one of the leaders of the activist group MoveOn - and Peter Koechley - also of MoveOn and an editor at The Onion - launched Upworthy with several million dollars of seed money and a surfeit of hope. It was and is a bold attempt at reframing what constitutes news. Fear and anger are the currency of the media realm. Upworthy seeks to upend that formula and focus instead not on what is going wrong but on what might go right. Upworthy ... insists that stories “can make the world a better place” and engage people in a way that makes them want to do something instead of tuning out. On the numbers, Upworthy has 11 million subscribers, 20 million unique visitors to its website, and more important, substantial community engagement through its main distribution platform, Facebook. For those of you who think Upworthy has faded, Facebook’s own research ... demonstrates that the site and its stories have some of the highest community engagement of any Facebook page, behind Fox News but ahead of CNN. The site’s audience is surprisingly diverse in terms of politics and geography. Its experiment seems to be more one of tone: positive encouragement rather than inflammatory antagonism.
Dutch officials have opened what is being billed as one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms, with 150 turbines spinning far out in the North Sea. Over the next 15 years the Gemini windpark ... will meet the energy needs of about 1.5 million people. At full tilt the windpark has a generating capacity of 600 megawatts and will help supply 785,000 Dutch households with renewable energy, according to the company. “We are now officially in the operational stage,” the company’s managing director Matthias Haag said, celebrating the completion of a project first conceived in 2010. The €2.8bn ($3bn) project is a collaboration between the Canadian independent renewable energy company Northland Power, wind turbine manufacturer Siemens Wind Power, Dutch maritime contractor Van Oord and waste processing company HVC. Gemini would contribute about 13% of the country’s total renewable energy supply and about 25% of its wind power. The Netherlands remains dependant on fossil fuels which still make up about 95% of its energy supply, according to a 2016 report from the ministry of economics affairs. The Dutch government has committed to ensuring 14% of its energy comes from renewable sources such as wind and solar power by 2020, and 16% by 2023, with the aim of being carbon neutral by 2050. Gemini “is seen as a stepping stone” in the Netherlands and has “shown that a very large project can be built on time, and in a very safe environment”, Haag said.
Jim Estill was growing frustrated. Over the summer of 2015, the business executive from the ... Ontario town of Guelph watched the Syrian refugee crisis unfold. "I didn't think people were doing enough things fast enough," he says. So Estill ... devised a plan. He would put up CA$1.5m (US$1.1m/Ł910,000) of his own money to bring over 50 refugee families to Canada, and co-ordinate a community-wide effort to help settle them into their new life. Canada allows private citizens ... to directly sponsor refugees by providing newcomers with basic material needs. But Estill was looking to make a big impact, quickly. So he brought together 10 different faith-based organisations that were already looking at ways to help those affected by the Syrian civil war. Sara Sayyed remembers the night her husband, president of the Muslim Society of Guelph, came back from that meeting and told her about Estill's plan. "I was completely floored. I said: 'Let's get involved in this.'" In November 2015, the local Guelph paper published an article about the plan. It was translated into Arabic and spread around the Middle East. "People started emailing us directly from Turkey, from Lebanon, from within Syria, saying: 'Can you help us?'" says Sayyed. By December 2016, 47 of 58 families had arrived in Guelph. Many newcomers were having difficulty finding work because they lacked experience or English language skills. So [Estill] launched a program that provides Syrian refugees with jobs ... along with regular English lessons.
Note: Watch an inspiring two-minute video on this most generous man.