Have you ever wondered it means to be alive as a human being? How you can responsibly contribute to an endangered world? The six stories in Talent for Humanity (Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2015) answer these questions and more. The six people profiled have all taken a stand and fought against poverty, apathy, closed-mindedness, oppression and prejudice. The settings range from Iran to Los Angeles’ Skid Row, from a Montana Native American reservation to Norway and Great Britain, from Palestine and Israel to the slums of Calcutta and the Sochi Olympics.
These stories were gathered by a French charity called Talent for Humanity, founded by Thierry Sanchez. A former concert promoter, Sanchez wanted to celebrate ordinary people whose everyday efforts are helping to change the world. These people have harnessed their passion, gifts and creativity to serve others. They are the recipients of the first Human Spirit Awards and their prize was to have their stories published in this book.
The first profile is of Reza, an Iranian photojournalist and campaigner for children and people in need. His trainings in media and communications have helped victims of war and his photos have raised awareness all over the world.
Sherry and Bob Jason, husband and wife attorneys in Los Angeles, created City Hearts, an innovative program that trains young people in the arts allowing them to discover their own potential and a path to a brighter future. So far they have trained 35,000 at-risk children and young people in some of L.A.’s most impoverished neighbourhoods.
Aliza Hava is an American singer/songwriter living in California. After a spiritual awakening, she took her lifelong passion for music and began organizing concerts for peace. Based in Israel for a number of years, she worked towards creating tolerance and understanding between divergent communities in the Middle East by organizing events such as Peace Day LIVE and Harmony in the Holy Land with Muslim, Christian and Jewish participants.
Deeyah, born in Norway to Pakistani and Afghan parents, is also a musician. As a girl, she became a well-known pop singer but had to flee from the wrath of her conservative ethnic community that sought to silence her. She ended up first in the United Kingdom, then in the United States and her commitment to human rights and social activism led to her making an International Emmy Award-winning documentary about honour killings in the U.K. called Banaz: A Love Story.
After a challenging childhood as the only white kid on a Native American reservation, Yarrow Kraner went on to recognize the extraordinary in everyday people. As a young man trying to make films in Hollywood, he met many outstanding creators who were will to share their expertise and he founded Superdudes, an inspirational online community for young people. This evolved into HATCH, a mentoring site where thousands of young people have turned their lives around by working with experts in professions such as filmmaking, music, photography, design, architecture and entertainment.
Daniele Finzi Pasca is an Italian-speaker from Switzerland who uses his skills as a clown and theatre director to explore joy, inspiration, pathos, paradox and humor. He served at Mother Teresa’s centres in Calcutta and was moved to found the Theatre of Caress when he returned to Europe. A creative and revolutionary stage director, he was responsible for the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics and the opening of the Paralympics in Sochi in 2014.
Stories of passion and creativity, friendship and kindness, this collection shows how some very different people overcame obstacles and were able to reach out and help others. It is a book of courage, and inspiration and provides readers with a strong call to action. It’s available from the charity’s website.