Hero’s making a difference in their worlds

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has left millions of children without parents. To help South African children and teens orphaned by the crisis, New Yorker Amy Stokes founded Infinite Family, a nonprofit organisation that connects orphans with video mentors in other countries.

Stokes was recently honored as a CNN Hero for her work helping orphans rebuild their lives.”With so many children and so few adults to help them grow up, I knew we had to find a way to bring new information, resources and the caring, nurturing effect of other adults into the lives of these children,” explains Stokes.

Mentors communicate weekly with their “net buddies.” Since 2006, the organisation has connected over 300 South African children with mentors. In addition to finding support and companionship through the mentor-mentee relationship, participants also learn English and computer skills, which help them secure jobs after they finish school.

Another organisation trying to make a difference in South Africa is Vodacom, which is giving 10 South Africans the chance to make a real and sustainable contribution to South African communities. The Vodacom Change the World 2010 programme will give 10 people the unique opportunity to work at one of 10 SA-based charitable organisations, for six months from April 2011, and get paid for their time. The campaign is aligned to a worldwide Vodafone initiative, called World of Difference.

The 10 winners range from pre-school educators, to social workers, medical practitioners, speech therapists, occupational therapists, remedial educators and marketing and fundraising volunteers. They have been chosen to work at 10 previously selected NGO’s in South Africa serving local communities.