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Honoring People Who 'Stick Their Necks Out'

I'm Steve Ember with the VOA Special English Development Report.

An organization based in the United States honors people who, in its words, "stick their necks out for the common good." That means they take a risk. The organization is named for the animal with the very long neck. The group is called the Giraffe Project.

Phil Borges is among recent "Giraffe Heroes." He is a doctor who fixes people’s teeth, but he is also a photographer. Mister Borges started an organization called Bridges to Understanding. It sends photographers to small villages to give cameras to children and teach them how to take pictures.

Bridges to Understanding has sent photographers to Peru, the Arctic, Kenya, Nepal and India as well as a Native American village in Arizona. Mister Borges has also taken his camera to Afghanistan. He took pictures of women helping to improve the lives of other women and children.

The Giraffe Project says Mister Borges stuck his neck out to connect children all over the world with photography.

Two other Giraffe heroes are Azim Khamisa and Plez Felix. They live in California. Members of a street gang robbed and killed Mister Khamisa’s son Tariq. He was twenty years old.

The young man who killed him was Mister Felix’s fourteen-year-old grandson, Tony. He is now in prison. Plez Felix apologized to the Khamisa family for the actions of his grandson. He and Mister Khamisa now work together to tell young people that killing and violence do not solve problems.

Since nineteen eighty-two, the Giraffe Project has named more than nine hundred heroes. These "Giraffes," as they are also known, do not receive money. Instead, they are presented as examples for others to follow. Their stories are told through the news media, schools and the Internet.

Anyone can nominate a Giraffe hero. There are Giraffe heroes all over the world.

Ann Medlock is the woman who started the Giraffe Project. She says it is easy to think that a problem is too big to be solved. Miz Medlock says the non-profit group helps people understand that they can start with small actions to solve small parts of a problem.

The group is based in the northwestern state of Washington. The Web site is giraffe-dot-o-r-g.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Karen Leggett. Read and listen to our reports at I'm Steve Ember.