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Member Care Associates

Resources for Good Practice
Update March 2013

Member Care in Mission/Aid

Ordinary Heroes

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This month we are focusing on ordinary heroes, especially those whose ongoing, sacrificial and often unrecognised acts of goodness truly help others. Member care workers, and the mission/aid workers whom they support, and the people with whom mission/aid workers support, can often fit into this definition of ordinary hero. The first set of resources focus mostly on understanding ordinary heroism. The second set of resources focus on supporting ordinary heroes, emphasizing women whose lives are ransacked by exploitation, poverty, and degradation. Circumstances and environmental influences can definitely impact the choices and the character strengths needed to act heroically. What do you think? Read on. Enjoy the video pieces too.

Warm greetings from Geneva,
Kelly and Michèle O’Donnell

Only a small part is played in great deeds by any hero.
Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Resource Area One:
Understanding Ordinary heroes

Watch this two minute inspirational report from CBS:
New York Subway Hero


**Celebrating Heroism website. “I challenge the traditional view of heroes as extraordinary people, as super-special agents of noble deeds. In doing so, I distinguish between those rare people whose whole lives are centered around sacrifice for the good of society or for the well being of their fellows, chronic heroes, and those ordinary folks who are moved to an heroic deed in a specific situation at a particular time. Their heroic deeds are always special, but these heroes are just plain folks, ordinary citizens, who “do what they had to do” when moved to action by some call to service. Typically, they say, “It was nothing special;” “I did what anyone would do in that situation.” And some add, “and what everyone ought to do.” Dr. Phil Zimbardo

**Core article. Read and discuss Zeno Franco and Phil Zimbardo’s fascinating article, The Banality of Heroism (Greater Good, Fall/Winter 2006-2007, pp. 30-35).
**Video stories from around the world. See the materials on the Heroic Imagination Project website ( especially the Video Library section. Examples: girls’ education in Zimbabwe, microcredit programs in Paraguay, human rights in Cambodia ,etc. Are these stories about ordinary people who act heroically and/or are they stories of truly uncommon heroes?


Resource Area Two
Supporting Ordinary Heroes

 Watch this moving film trailer from Independent Lens/PBS:
 Half the Sky

**The Film. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide is a four-hour television series for PBS and international broadcast, shot in 10 countries: Cambodia, Kenya, India, Sierra Leone, Somaliland, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Liberia and the U.S. Inspired by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's book, the documentary series introduces women and girls who are living under some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable—and fighting bravely to change them…[T]he film reflects viable and sustainable options for empowerment and offers an actionable blueprint for transformation.” (showing internationally on TV stations and available as a DVD) 
**The book. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, “is a passionate call to arms against our era’s most pervasive human rights violation: the oppression of women and girls in the developing world. With Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn as our guides, we undertake an odyssey through Africa and Asia to meet with extraordinary women struggling there….Through these stories, Kristof and WuDunn help us see that the key to economic progress lies in unleashing women’s potential. They make clear how so many people have helped to do just that, and how we can each do our part. Throughout much of the world, the greatest unexploited economic resource is the female half of the population. Countries such as China have prospered precisely because they emancipated women and brought them into the formal economy. Unleashing that process globally is not only the right thing to do; it’s also the best strategy for fighting poverty. Deeply felt, pragmatic and inspirational, Half the Sky is essential reading for every global citizen.”

**More stories of brave women. “Women and girls across the globe face threats—trafficking, prostitution, violence, discrimination—every day of their lives. But hope endures. Brave men and women have developed innovative ways of helping those living in some of the most challenging conditions. A girl in India is on the brink of being sold into the commercial sex trade. A young mother in Somaliland may die giving birth. In Sierra Leone, a girl has been raped and must confront the norms of her community. A women whose husband abused her now helps those suffering at the hands of their spouses. These are the stories of individuals who represent hundreds of millions of women and girls around the world who are victimized and abused, denied access to education, medicine or property, prevented from reaching their full potential and contributing in more meaningful ways to their communities. These are stories of dehumanizing violence and discrimination. But these are also stories of struggle and victories, large and small, in the face of the longest odds.” Read their stories here:


Final Thoughts
Love is its own reward.

“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” Luke 17:7-10, New International Version

Watch this six minute gem: Everyday Leaders
Drew Dudley, TEDX Talks, 2010 (subtitles in 19 languages)


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