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Four More People Who Are Making a Difference


These activists, young and old, are making the world a better place in special ways. Transcript of radio broadcast:

VOICE ONE:

I'm Steve Ember.

VOICE TWO:

And I'm Barbara Klein with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. Today we tell about four individuals who are making a difference. Each person is working to make the world a better place.

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VOICE ONE:

American biologist George Schaller helped to create the modern wildlife conservation movement. He has spent his life studying wild animals in more than twenty-five countries. Those animals have included mountain gorillas, snow leopards, alligators and caribou.

This year, Mister Schaller received the Indianapolis Prize -- the world's top award for animal protection and conservation. The prize is worth one hundred thousand dollars.

Mister Schaller's first major interest was mountain gorillas. In nineteen fifty-nine, he moved to Central Africa to live in the wild with the animals and observe their behavior. Little was known about mountain gorillas in the wild until his book "The Mountain Gorilla" was published in nineteen sixty-three.

GEORGE SCHALLER: "The biggest task was to be able to observe the animals so they don't run away. So, you slowly get them used to you until they see: 'Oh, there's that Schaller again,' and forget it, and they go on with their normal life. And that's the way you want it."

VOICE TWO:

That was the beginning of a lifetime of discoveries. In the nineteen seventies, George Schaller became one of two westerners to observe a snow leopard in Nepal. These animals had not been seen by foreigners in almost thirty years.

In nineteen eighty-eight, he and his wife were the first westerners permitted in China's Chang Tang area to study giant pandas. Six years later, he and another biologist discovered a new species of goat in Laos.

VOICE ONE:

Yet Mister Schaller says the pleasure of studying animals is not his main interest. He says guaranteeing their survival is most important. He says our whole civilization depends on the environment – on clean air, water, soil and food. And, he says, there is not much hope unless communities start fighting for a healthier environment.

VOICE TWO:

Recently, the Indianapolis Zoo presented the Indianapolis Prize to Mister Schaller for his conservation efforts. The zoo's president, Michael Crowther, called him, "the father of conservation biology." He also said there are generations of conservationists now who grew up learning about the subject from George Schaller.

Mister Schaller said he will use the prize money to train local conservationists around the world. He said: "And so, you leave something behind that will be valuable, long after everyone's forgotten me."

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VOICE ONE:

The United Nations estimates that more than one hundred million people around the world are homeless. Another one billion people lack good homes. In the United States, between two million and three million people have not had a home for more than a year. One American is attempting to solve this problem with soccer, the game called football in other countries.

VOICE TWO:

Last summer, two teams of four players each battled for control of a small, red and white soccer ball in Washington, D.C. More than one hundred players were in the city to take part in a competition. They share one thing in common: they all have been homeless. Lawrence Cann brought these players together to compete in the Homeless USA Cup.

Volunteers work with and train the players throughout the year. The volunteers come from homeless shelters, drug treatment and community centers. Almost fifty countries have similar programs. All of the teams will compete in December at the Homeless World Cup in Australia.

VOICE ONE:

Lawrence Cann works at a community center in North Carolina. He has played soccer his whole life and loves the sport. Four years ago, he started a non-profit group, Street Soccer USA, as a program for homeless people. Mister Cann says his group builds relationships with people. And once they are living in homes, the group builds on that relationship.

VOICE TWO:

Lawrence Cann says his program helps to end popular but false ideas about homelessness. He says that nobody chooses to be homeless. He says homelessness is a social issue, and everyone has a responsibility for it.

Mister Cann says about seven hundred homeless men and women were on the soccer fields this year. He says about seventy-five percent of them will make positive changes in their lives. Many will continue their education or get permanent jobs. Lawrence Cann's goal is to get ten thousand homeless people involved in the program during the next five years.

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VOICE ONE:

Another American, Marshall Bailly, started a group that helps university students in Africa and Asia to create community service projects. Mister Bailly is making a difference through development projects in Namibia, Nigeria and the Philippines.

The young man first went to Namibia five years ago while he was a student at American University in Washington, D.C. His goal was to help university students improve their communities.

At the age of twenty, he developed a leadership program with the University of Namibia to teach important skills to social activists. These include how to raise money and keep financial records.

VOICE TWO:

This trip to Namibia marked the birth of "Leadership Initiatives," the international development organization Mister Bailly started. Through American University, he had visited China, Japan, Angola, Botswana and Nigeria. He had seen how these countries were developing and how he could take part in their development. He discovered that he could use his studies to establish a class for students in Namibia.

VOICE ONE:

One student who completed Mister Bailly's leadership course launched her own program in the Namibian capital, Windhoek. She is helping people living in temporary camps to find work. Mister Bailly says his development program is different from others because it trains social activists to work with community leaders. His organization asks people to use their own resources. The group does not loan money or give other kinds of aid. But it does build coalitions in communities.

VOICE TWO:

From Namibia, Marshall Bailly has taken his program to Nigeria and the Philippines. Since two thousand five, his group has trained one hundred forty students to bring change to their societies. He says his Leadership Initiatives projects have helped at least twenty-two thousand people. And other countries are interested in the program. Rwandan officials have asked Mister Bailly to bring his program to their universities.

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VOICE ONE:

Aime Baligizi is a young Congolese man who is making a difference in Africa. He uses his education and his own experiences to help others survive in areas affected by conflict.

VOICE TWO:

Birao is a village in the Central African Republic, near the border with Darfur, Sudan. The village is cut off from much of the rest of the world. Birao was affected by fighting between Central African rebels and government soldiers last year.

Mister Baligizi is one of several aid workers attempting to help the local people and refugees from the conflict in Darfur. Three hundred refugees now live in Birao.

The twenty-nine year old Congolese man directs a group of local workers for the French aid group called Triangle. They are preparing to give out seeds and food aid to about nine hundred families. He said: "We need to show them that we may be giving them food but we will not be giving it all the time. They also have to produce something for their families and the future."

VOICE ONE:

When his work is done, Aime Baligizi brings a few soccer balls to a local field to play with young children. Some of them are refugees from the conflict in Darfur. He says it is important to bring some happiness to lives affected by violence. Mister Baligizi himself fled violence from his home in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He says he was able to study in Uganda and in Europe with the help of many people.

VOICE TWO:

The young man says he is different from many other humanitarian workers because he is working with other Africans. Sometimes he feels like he is working in his own country. He says:

"There are cultures, social values that you have to respect and do your job in a way that respects everybody. It is easy as an African to be working in Africa."

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VOICE ONE:

This program was written by VOA correspondents and adapted by Shelley Gollust. Our producer was Mario Ritter. I'm Steve Ember.

VOICE TWO:

And I'm Barbara Klein. You can download audio and read scripts on our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com. Join us again next week for EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.

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