Category Archives: Causes

Find information and resources on advocacy, donating, philanthropy, volunteering and causes.

Get Active: 5 of the Best Cities in the US for Cycling

cyclingAs time goes on, an increasing number of people have started leaving their cars in the garage and grabbing their bikes instead. As populations grow, streets become more crowded. Rising gas prices make driving in a car more expensive. Cabs can cost a fortune, and nobody enjoys riding the bus. That leaves a lot of people looking to their bikes for transportation. But what cities accommodate such a decision? Let’s check out some of the most bike-friendly cities in the USA.

Madison, Wis.

Madison began turning itself into a bike-friendly city around 1972 during an oil crisis. Since then, the cycling situation has consistently improved. The city now has a well laid out network of paths off the street as well as bike lanes all over the city. Madison draws some of the top cycling companies thanks to its bike friendliness such as Planet Bike and Saris. Motorists have gotten used to the cyclists over the decades. The city has also implemented a “Safe Routes to School” program designed to help children safely walk and bike to class.

If you head just outside the city, you can find pastoral and hilly terrain, which is great for riding. Also, if you’re into competition, Madison hosts the Ironman Wisconsin triathlon, which usually draws around 2,500 each year and has one of the most difficult bike courses in the country.

San Francisco, Calif.

This city has recently become one of the biggest biking places in the country. It’s not just cycling enthusiasts; it’s the business men too. Twitter–headquartered in San Francisco–claims that 25 percent of its employees use their bikes to commute. The company even leased a building near one of the main bike-ways to help accommodate them, and probably to encourage others to join.

Recent innovations in 2010 included 20 miles of new bike lanes, 25 bike parking corrals and traffic signals to help give bikers right-of-way. These led to a huge increase in cycling over the past five years; around 71 percent more. But with those increases in cyclers came a rise in bike crash statistics, despite the heightened level of safety offered by these lanes.

Chicago, Ill.

In 2011, Chicago got Washington’s progressive transportation director, Gabe Klein. Together with the new mayor, they set an ambitious agenda to refuel the city’s bike network. The call the plan the Streets of Cycling 2020.

One of the main goals of the plan is to install 100 miles of separate bike lanes in the next four years. So far, they installed a protected bike lane on Kinzie Street, which only took six weeks. Fifty one percent of traffic during rush hour now consists of bike riders. Elevated railways should soon become bike paths, and the bike-share system should soon expand to 5,000 bikes.

Minneapolis, Minn.

The bike culture in Minneapolis thrives thanks to the Stupor Bowl Alley Cat Race, wintertime cycling tours, the Bicycle Advisory Committee’s thousands of volunteer hours, and a general enthusiasm for biking around the city. What started off as a simple cultural phenomenon has now become a community attitude. It’s made the city one of the best places to cycle in the country.

You’ll find the 4.57 mile Cedar Lake Regional Trail as one of the largest biking trails in America. The trail also connects to other biking and walking paths. It’s got two one-way bike lanes and a pedestrian lane running from the Mississippi River through the Minnesota Twins’ Target Field and into the suburbs in the west.

Portland, Ore.

Portland has long-held the title of best biking city in America. It often serves as the only American city on lists of the world’s top places for cyclists. It’s the only big city (with a population of over 600,000) to earn a “Platinum” status from the “League of American Bicyclists” thanks to 180 miles of bike lanes and 79 miles of off-street bike paths.

You’ll find a bike-rack or bar just about anywhere you go in the city. In Portland, sometimes it seems as if bikers have more control over the road than cars. When huge groups of bikers roam the streets, cars simply have to back off and wait for them to get through. Motorists have spent so much time around bikers, they’ll often let you into the road when no bike lane exists.

If you’re looking for a place where you can rely on cycling, you can’t go wrong with any of these cities. Find one that sounds like it best suits your riding style and enjoy fully embracing the healthy lifestyle.

Gentle Giants: 5 Big Names Investing in Your Health & Wellness

Personalized healthcare is quickly becoming an important trend in healthcare. As more and more data about each patient and about genes and the human genome becomes available, technology companies are conducting research to store and analyze this data. They plan to use it to understand illnesses and treat patients on an individual level. Some big businesses understand the importance of personalized healthcare and are investing in ventures to make it happen.

Google and Bill Gates

Image via Flickr

Foundation Medicine is a diagnostics company possibly best known for helping Steve Jobs with his cancer treatments. Foundation sells a test that examines the DNA fueling a patient’s cancer and tries to pinpoint the exact genetic mutations involved so doctors can come up with a personalized treatment plan. Both Google and Bill Gates have heavily invested in Foundation Medicine. Google owns 9 percent of stock, and Bill Gates owns 4. Major technological players are aware of the advantages of this kind of personal medicine research, and their strong investments will help to further the research of companies like Foundation.

IBM

IBM is doing several things to further the development of personalized healthcare. They’ve teamed up with the New York Genome Center to conduct genomic research that will help bring more personalized treatment plans to brain cancer patients, specifically those affected with glioblastoma, a severely malignant form of brain cancer. In tandem with IBM’s Watson, a cognitive computing project that makes it easier for physicians to access and assess patient data and medical records, IBM and NYGC have been working at this cancer research for a decade. The Watson system analyzes genomic differences between cancerous and non-cancerous brain cells, then interprets this data in such a way that physicians can use it to create an individual treatment plan for each glioblastoma patient.

Mark Cuban

Image via Flickr

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban recently invested $760k in Validic, a company that streamlines personalized health data that comes from multiple sources like healthcare apps. This data helps doctors, healthcare professionals, and other relevant parties access a single stream of patient data. With so much data connected to every patient, the health informatics field is growing as personalized healthcare comes to the forefront of medicine and biotech. Validic is a startup, currently boasting only fifteen employees. But Cuban sees the potential in the small company and values the work they are doing, saying that personalized medicine is the direction in which healthcare is going.

Dell

Computer giant Dell has come up with a high-performance computing system specifically meant to analyze genomes. The Dell Active Infrastructure for HPC Life Sciences is software for scientists. The goal of the project is to quickly and easily work with the genomic coding and analysis that scientists need. Since genomes are a huge amount of data, scientists need a lot of power and storage to complete their work. Dell is working through previous issues that cause delays in research and analysis, and the Active Infrastructure is going to help with cancer research, agriculture, and many things in between.

Sony

Just this past January, Sony has announced they are teaming up with medical company M3 in Tokyo to create a new company that will focus on genomic research as it relates to personalized medicine. The new company, called P5 Inc, will provide genome analysis to research institutions in Japan. Eventually, Sony hopes the company will be able to provide the same services on a more individual basis, relating genomic data with other medical information to create personalized healthcare regimes for specific patients. P5 isn’t the only investment Sony has made in the future of medicine. In 2012, Sony invested $644M in camera company Olympus to further their research regarding medical imaging technology, specifically endoscopes with extremely high resolution.

More and more corporations and wealthy individuals are investing in personalized healthcare, genome research, and the data concerns that go along with it. These investments in new projects and innovative companies show that some big businesses care about the future of the medical field and personalized health. Research and development for personalized healthcare can only grow with the backing of these major players.

One World: The Art of Impact with Malaria No More’s Ray Chambers

Ray Chambers There aren’t many people who have had more of a dramatic impact on the health and wellbeing of children globally than Ray Chambers. In April 2011 Ray Chambers was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine not for his career in private equity-though he had an illustrious and extremely lucrative career that is worthy of note in and of itself-but rather for his work on behalf of children in the developing world.

Chambers is the founder of the Malaria No More campaign; a campaign built on the simple idea that if children sleep under insecticide treated nets, not only are they protected from the mosquitos that carry the deadly disease but the mosquitos will die from landing on the nets and disrupt the breeding cycle.

The results of his work are significant. As he stated in his ONE WORLD conversation with Deepak: “Over the last seven years,” Ray explains, “we’ve raised over 8 billion dollars, we’ve covered 800 million people with these insecticide treated mosquito nets and the annual death rate has gone from 1.2 million to less than 500 thousand.” These are results that speak for themselves.

It is an extremely effective solution to the malaria epidemic sweeping sub Saharan Africa and it is one of the reasons that in 2008, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon named Ray Chambers as UN Special Envoy for Malaria. In February 2013, Chambers was named Special Envoy for Financing the Health Millennium Development Goals, a position that intersects his business career and his philanthropic endeavors.

Today, one of his most impressive accomplishments remains one of his simplest; by ensuring that children have a mosquito net costing less than $10 to produce, he and his organization Malaria No More have been able to drastically reduce the effects of Malaria on some of the most vulnerable populations in the world. An accomplishment that proves influence is not always about money or power, but rather recognizing need and meeting it head on with compassion and ingenuity.

You can watch Deepak’s full conversation with Ray here.

Paul Tudor Jones on a Higher Purpose Towards A More Collective Goodwill

paul_highAs one of the highest earning hedge fund managers of his generation and the founder of the highly successful Robin Hood Foundation, Paul Tudor Jones is no stranger to success but it is his faith and passion for enhancing the conscious mind that have made him a true maverick. In fact, he attributes much of his success as a businessman and a philanthropist to his spirituality.

As a person of deep faith and spirituality, Jones feels strongly about the connection between the health and wellbeing of the mind and the health of a person as a whole. As a philanthropist, he has a passion for giving back. Paul Tudor Jones and his wife Sonia have been able to combine these two passions by introducing the contemplative sciences more fully to the religious studies department at the University of Virginia.

The model that Paul Tudor Jones has provided at UVA is a great example of the ways in which giving back to the community can and should focus on more than just one aspect of the human experience. As an alumnus of the University of Virginia, Paul Tudor Jones first set out to introduce yoga to the UVA community and ended up creating something much larger.

“We found this enormous thirst, this unquenched thirst for anything that can help people better themselves,” say Jones in his interview with Deepak Chopra. “Not just physically through something like yoga or tai chi but also mentally through meditation and a variety of other mind-body techniques that help people become better individuals mentally, spiritually, emotionally and then tap into the larger collective good.”

Paul Tudor Jones believes that being able to look beyond everyday life to a higher purpose, will lead not only to personal growth but will result in a more peaceful and just society overall. When individuals are given the time for self-reflection, they have the ability to connect more positively with their fellow man and the world around them. He embodies this in his charitable work, like that done by the Robin Hood Foundation. The idea behind the Robin Hood Foundation was to create a successful charitable organization that was enhanced by interaction with the free market. Using sound investment techniques, Paul Tudor Jones has made the Robin Hood Foundation a leader in the fight against poverty in New York City.

The Robin Hood Foundation is an example from Paul Tudor Jones’s own life of how self-reflection and an understanding of the conscious mind can lead to “more collective goodwill” in today’s society.

What is your higher purpose?

You can watch the entire interview with Paul Tudor Jones here.

One World: The Art of Mindful Business with Lauren Bush Lauren & FEED

Lauren Bush LaurenAs the granddaughter of a former President of the United States and the daughter-in-law of American designer Ralph Lauren, Lauren Bush Lauren is no stranger to community involvement and creating brands. But her familial connections are only part of the story. Lauren’s fashion brand FEED is changing the way business and global aid interact.  What started as a fundraiser for the UN World Food Program has turned into a thriving business, with the mission of creating well made products that help feed the world.

As student at Princeton University, Lauren grappled with the fact that after having seen so much hunger and poverty during her travels, it seemed an insurmountable problem. She struggled with what she could do to help as well as with what advice she could give to other young people equally interested in making a difference. Rather than feeling defeated she combined her love of design with her passion for ending hunger into FEED Projects. The six year old endeavor has expanded rapidly, and today FEED has provided over 75million meals to children in need.

Lauren sat down with Deepak Chopra as part of our ONE WORLD production to talk about her career, her brand and her aspirations.

Lauren has moved into a new realm in the business world, catering to an ever more mindful consumer who not only wants quality products but also has an interest in making a global impact.   Increasingly, the public not only wants to know that the products they buy are made well and responsibly but also precisely what it is their money is going towards. Lauren has created a brand that allows others who have felt as if the problems of the world are insurmountable to make a difference and giving them a tangible explanation of what their money has done to help end hunger.

You can see the full interview now on NEWSWIRE.FM

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ONE WORLD is an interview series hosted by Deepak Chopra and produced by NEWSWIRE.FM where Deepak interviews various inspirational leaders such as Martha Stewart, Calvin Klein, Nigel Barker and many, many more. Each Friday we will profile a different guest from the ONE WORLD series to show you how these people are generating their success with mindful practice. 

Best of Intent 2013: The Hangouts from The Science of Survival to Coping with Bullying

The creation of The Chopra Well – the Chopra YouTube channel – has allowed us to do many awesome things, but one of them that means the most to us is having been able to host several Google+ hangouts with inspiring people around the world. We did one for the launch of The Chopra Well last year, but in 2013 we tried to step it up a notch. In April the Chopras hosted a hangout series called “Aspire to Inspire” which covered an array of topics each day of the week. Mallika also stepped in to host a hangout on Mindfulness as part of another series. What we found was that these hangouts enabled us to have in-depth serious conversations with experts and people with first hand experiences to enlighten ourselves and our audience about the world around us and the capacity for the human race to do great things.

As we wind down on 2013 and reflect on the year we’ve had, some of these conversations really stuck out. If you missed them the first time around or simply want to revisit them we’ve reposted a few of them below.

1. The Science of Survival – Deepak & Sanjiv Chopra

Deepak and Sanjiv discuss the physical, mental and emotional process of surviving a trauma or deep loss. Paralympic snowboarder and activist Amy Purdy and pro-surfer Bethany Hamilton who had her arm bitten off by a shark at age 13 join in to share their stories of loss and overcoming these significant challenges.

2. How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life – Mallika Chopra

Mallika and a knowledgeable panel of experts look at the role of intention and other mindfulness practices in living a more meaningful and healthy life. The discussion will help answer questions about how to turn goals and aspirations into reality; understanding the difference between an intention and a goal; and the relationship between intention and other practices that lead to mindfulness such as meditation, prayer, service, and yoga.

3. Coping and Surviving Bullying – Gotham Chopra

Gotham Chopra is joined by poet Shane Koyczan, whose video for “To This Day” went viral due to it’s honest, heartbreaking prose about the lifetime effects of bullying. Other guests include: Martin Shervington who will offer insight from his experience in psychology and life coaching, Margot Leitman - a comedian who just released her first book “Gawky: Tales of an Extra Long Awkward Phase,” and Kevin Epling, the National Co-Director and Michigan representative for Bully Police USA.

4. Supporting our Veterans Overseas and When They Come Home – Mallika Chopra

Mallika Chopra is joined by Levi Newman, Rob Schware, and Rick Collins to discuss veterans and PTSD. Newman is a veteran with over 10 years of service and a writer for Veterans United and the Huffington Post. Schware is founder of the Give Back Yoga Foundation, which helps soldiers returning from duty transition back to civilian life and provides resources to deal with PTSD and other mental disorders that occur after time in the field. Collins is the founder of Vet360, a charity that gives Veterans upon their return home a 30 day program to help educate, counsel and prepare them for civilian life.

5. Coping with Loss – Mallika Chopra

Mallika Chopra hosts a discussion on “Coping with Loss.” She is joined by Todd Hartley, CEO of WireBuzz who lost both of his grandparents at the same time; Chelsea Roff, who has been featured on CNN and the Hallmark channel with her story of coping with a mother who has alcohol induced dementia; and Laurel Lewis who practices as a hospice nurse and also runs Death & Dying Dinner events in Southern California. (You may remember Laurel from 30 Days of Intent!)

Which of the hangouts were your favorites? Tell us in the comments below!

What Would You Do With One Second of Carefreeness?

Imagine you could let all of your worries and troubles go for one second, what would that moment look like? A french non-profit called the Mimi Foundation gave 20 cancer patients that chance a few weeks ago.

Each patient suffers from a terminal form of cancer. Many have completely lost their hair due to radiation treatments and their days are filled with dread of the next hurdle in fighting the disease. For one day they were invited to a studio to have their hair and make-up done, all while keeping their eyes closed. Then they were placed in front of a one way mirror that had a photographer on the other side. As they opened their eyes he took a photo of that first few seconds of happiness. He captured the pure joy of a carefree moment, something they so rarely get to experience in their current every day lives.

As we come to the close of our week on stress, what would your carefree moment look like? If you could choose it, where would you be? What do you think would bring you that joy? Tell us in the comments below.

Get into the Spirit: Acts of Holiday Kindness

During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to get caught up in the rush of overflowing schedules, maxing out credit cards to fulfill wish lists, and feeling overwhelmed by trying to keep up with it all.Gift

But, it’s important to step back and remember the true meaning of the season. The holidays are a time where we can honor traditions and create new memories, attend festive parties, spend more time with our loved ones, and rejoice in the energy of the pending new year with boundless opportunities ahead.

One of the most beautiful and heartwarming things about the holiday season is that it inspires many to be a little nicer, more giving, more social, and generally overall better to one other.

To gain some perspective on holiday giving, I reached out to a couple of kindness gurus for their take on the gooey heartwarming goodness of the season.

Kris Wittenberg, Founder & CEO of Be Good to People, a movement that’s changing the world one person, one kind act at a time notes, “People are full of good cheer, looking for ways to spread it to others and carry it on into the New Year ahead. There is a sense of altruism brought about by the holiday season. I think people oftentimes are exhausted at the end of the year. They have been running in the rat race, making their way in the world, and as the year ends, they let down their walls a bit and share a common humanity. People are thinking of others as they shop for special gifts, put together their holiday card distribution lists, attend holiday festivities together and spend time with family and friends. It’s just a jovial time.”

Elle Lanning, Senior Director of Communications at Do the KIND Thing: Projects, a program which crowd sources socially impactful ideas and gives away $10k to a winning project every month, adds “when people get in that holiday spirit, they feel compelled to go beyond giving just gifts but also their time, their kind words, and more. Spreading kindness or holiday cheer during this time can be as simple as giving a dollar to the homeless you encounter on your commute every morning, to volunteering, to distributing holiday meals to those in need, to treating a close friend to dinner. The possibilities are endless.”

The holiday season can be a dark time for those who are missing loved ones in their lives or who are struggling to make ends meet. How can one give back this season? It’s a time where we can open up our hearts to those in need while teaching the younger generations that there is more to this time of year than just receiving the latest tech gadget.

Kris Wittenberg gave a few great ideas on how to pay-it-forward over the holidays stating, “there are so many wonderful options for any budget or schedule.” She truly knows what it means to Be Good to People as she offered up these wonderful ideas:

  • Shovel the neighbor’s walk or clear their car of snow before they come out in the morning
  • Offer an elderly person, busy single mom, or someone fighting a debilitating illness help wrapping gifts or decorate the house for the holidays
  • Deliver homemade holiday goodies to a homeless shelter, women’s shelter or nursing home
  • Offer to read holiday stories to kids at the library or to residents at a nursing home
  • Adopt a family (check with your local social services, church or shelter) and surprise them with meals and gifts that fill needs and wants
  • Remember the people who serve with special gifts or notes of appreciation: the mail carrier, the garbage collector, the minister or choir director at your church, the crossing guard, librarian, lunch ladies or janitor at school, the first responders – anyone who makes your neighborhood run. And don’t forget your neighbors!
  • Host a holiday open house and ask that no one bring dishes or drinks but instead bring a new toy wrapped and labeled or a donation that will go to a local charity
  • Instead of just signing holiday cards and mailing them, write a personal note in each – come on, make time! What a difference that makes to the recipient!
  • Deliver warm clothes, socks, shoes, mittens, hats, scarves, and jackets to homeless people – include a warm meal or a gift certificate

While kindness knows no seasonal boundaries, the good holiday vibes, unfortunately, don’t always last forever. KINDS’s Elle Lanning explains, “most people get into the spirit and somewhat inherently fall out when the new year and busy schedules pick up again.” When asked about keeping the spirit alive she says, “The most important thing to remember is that it is simple to be kind and to do it all year round. People often think to do something good, they have to volunteer or write a check. Doing good for others could be simple daily tasks such as holding the door open for a stranger or buying coffee for your colleague.” By signing up for one of her local food bank’s newsletter, she stays in the know of everything they are working on or in need of throughout the year. Signing up for updates on causes you feel in alignment with is a good way to stay inspired and involved with your community as well.

There are so many ways to spread a little love and holiday cheer. Better yet, keep it going all year! What about you? In what ways do you and your family perform acts of holiday kindness? How might you keep the inspiration going year round? Please share with us in the comments below!

(For more from Dawn Gluskin, visit Dawnsense.com to sign up for her weekly love letters and join the inspiring Dawnsense Facebook community.)

photo by: asenat29

Get involved: Your Holiday Mom

Screen shot 2013-12-10 at 5.35.10 PM

I went to high school in North Carolina. Being located at the heart of the United States Bible Belt, my home state isn’t known for it’s hospitality towards the LGBTQ community. However, my last two years of high school I went to a public residential magnet school which became sort of a liberal bubble set apart from the conservative influence of our outside community. Our head of residential life actually made a promise that he’d lose his job before he ever made a student come out of the closet to their family, so besides being a place where nerds could actually live at school, it was a safe place for those teens who felt persecuted or unsafe identifying their sexuality in their home schools. Thus, we had a much more vibrant LGBTQ teen community at our school, with alliance clubs and leadership positions created specifically to create healthy dialogue for students questioning or coming to terms with their sexualities.

It created a unique experience that most southern kids don’t get to have. Of course, growing up in a “Will & Grace” era I did horrifying things like try to collect gay friends like Pokemon cards – because to my 16 year old mind having gay or lesbian friends was a novelty and I hadn’t fully figured out that people are people, no matter who they like to sleep next to at night. I am so thankful for the experience and the open mindedness it provided me going into adulthood and that I now have many great friends that just happen to be gay.

However, we still live in a world where that kind of attitude isn’t adopted by everyone. And the other day when I was scrolling through my own blog dashboard I was reminded that there are thousands of kids out there who don’t have a home or school to go to that encourages, and embraces, them to be who they are. Each year we hear of teens who feel so outcasted and lonely because they’re LGBTQ that they self-harm or worse – take their lives. The pressure and depression over this can get even worse around the holiday time when these young people don’t feel safe or welcome in their own homes.

Then I discovered “Your Holiday Mom” – an outreach effort by moms and supportive LGBTQ allies from the internet who are trying to give those teens something to make them feel warm this holiday season. The virtual support group collects letters from moms and allies alike from the internet with messages of love, acceptance and hope and publishes them for anyone struggling this holiday season around family members or friends who don’t support them. The letters each remind the reader that they are loved and they have the place in more progressive hearts, so they’ll know someone is thinking about them and caring about them during the season.

I love this idea because it’s a small thing that can mean the world to someone in trouble. Sometimes charity or giving isn’t always about dollar bills, but opening our hearts to help others. Last year the campaign posted over 40,000 letters. This is the second year and they hope to get even more. Will you help? Here are the submission guidelines. Tell a stranger that you love them this holiday season and you could save someone’s life.

A Moment With Nelson Mandela, Rest in Peace

Screen shot 2013-12-06 at 8.04.33 AMIn 1999, I had the honor to meet Nelson Mandela.  He was attending a state banquet (in South Africa) and a friend scuttled me in for a quick meet and greet.  I was completely in awe, of course, and don’t think I said anything other than put my hands together in respect when we met.

When I heard the news of his passing yesterday, I relived that moment once again.  And while meeting someone as historical and mythical as he was is undoubtedly a moment in my life I will never forget, so was a poignant  visit to Robben Island, the remote prison that held Nelson Mandela for twenty-six years.

I was in South Africa with my classmates from Kellogg Business School – our intent was to learn more about the country, its people, traditions, and, of course, current and future business opportunities.  We were fortunate to be taken to Robben Island by Ahmed Kathrada, a freedom fighter who was sentenced for treason on the same day as President Mandela.  Mr. Kathrada, who at that time of our visit was a gentleman in his late seventies, was 36 years old when he went to prison, the youngest member convicted in the famous Rivonia trial, and the only person of South Asian descent from the group.

Our tour of the prison was somewhat surreal as Kathrada told us firsthand stories about almost three decades in prison, and the shaping of a revolution.  We had all read A Long Walk To Freedom, Nelson Mandela’s prison memoir, which to this day is one of the most powerful books I have ever read.  It was truly remarkable to stroll the grounds of the prison as Mr. Kathrada showed us how they would use scraps of rice paper to write notes for the book in tiny handwriting, and bury the paper in marked holes in rocks, before sneaking them out with release prisoners.  He showed us the cells they shared, and laughed at the habits each of them came to know of their fellow prisoners.

On that sunny day, it was difficult for me to feel the scope of the sacrifice these men made at Robben Island, until Mr. Kathrada talked emotionally about how they missed being around children while in prison.  Can you imagine a world without the cries or playful laughter of children?  He described the wonderful sensation of holding a child after 23 years of being deprived of seeing or hearing them.

The most dramatic moments in our time together came as Mr. Kathrada spoke with conviction and passion about the cause for which he had fought. I got chills down my spine as he talked about the camaraderie between strangers who had united for a cause for which they were willing to sacrifice their entire lives or even to die.  Mr. Kathrada described the evening when his guards announced that they had been released.

“They came and said, “We have received a fax that you are to be released tomorrow.”  Our first question was, “What is a fax? We had only seen a television for the first time in 1986.”

What followed their release was historic and bold and hard.  In one of the quotes being shared today, Mandela says:

“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”

Some of the most powerful words and scenes in the book, A Long Walk To Freedom, were the ones where Mandela talks about forgiveness.  The NY Times has a beautiful piece written by John Dramani Mahama, the President of Ghana, about how Mandela’s legacy of forgiveness shaped Africa.

As I read quotes and recaps of Nelson Mandela, I decided to see if Ahmed Kathrada had written something today and was moved to find his emotional words posted on  a South African portal.  Mr. Kathrada writes:

Your smile, which lingers still, was always from the heart, never forced, and the great joy you took in the world around you, especially in children, was unmistakeable…

I had the enviable privilege of being alive and walking the earth with you through the bad times and the good. It has been a long walk, with many challenges that at times seemed insurmountable. And yet we never faltered, and the strength of leaders like you and Walter always shone a light on the path and kept our destination and our people’s future in view.

I feel bereft and lonely. To whom do I turn for solace, comfort, and advice?

Farewell my elder brother, my mentor, my leader.

You can read the full text here.

Yesterday the world lost a hero and a true leader. While we mourn the loss of such a great man, we will strive to keep his memory and spirit alive in all the days to come. Thank you Nelson Mandela, may you rest in peace.

(Photos: NelsonMandela.org)

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