CNN is recognizing some of the world’s most celebrated volunteers. These 10 individuals were selected for their distinctive lifetime of service.
1. Helen Lewis, founder of the Gilded Balloon theater and the Red Squirrel Festival. Lewis started the theatre in 1963, in the old People’s Post Office building in London, and she’s worked there for more than 50 years. In 2017, she won the prestigious Churchill Prize for her charity work in the arts and her inspiring commitment to developing a broad range of programs to use theater, the performing arts and our creative assets to inspire people around the world.
2. Eddie Cruz, a performance artist who was born without a left arm. Cruz has made his mark on the stage in multiple U.S. cities, and in 2017 he found himself on the international stage when he performed for the Dalai Lama. Cruz’s work features non-traditional ways of engaging with audiences and has been performed all over the world. He’s been an advocate for bodily awareness.
3. Karthik Sundaram, who was born without legs and has helped change the lives of hundreds of people living with disabilities through his work with the Non-Human Rights Project.
4. Karin Layne, the owner of National Birds, a Boston-based non-profit that uses rescue birds to put education and information on its web site and to make documentary films about the birds’ stories.
5. Randy Perez, who formed Juntos y Requerimientos Animalos (JFA), the largest volunteer program in the Caribbean and Central America. For 27 years, JFA’s volunteers have volunteered in Haiti and other countries to organize adoptions and medicine.
6. Mariana Rizkalla-Menéndez, who has created one of the world’s first HIV-infected horses to live as a free-roaming animal in Vietnam. Menéndez, who has also created projects around water and waste management, has traveled to Vietnam to spread awareness about the toll of HIV and AIDS.
7. Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot by the Taliban in 2012 for advocating for women’s education. She created the HeForShe campaign to connect girls’ education to gender equality.
8. Zahara Iqbal, a refugee who along with her family fled Afghanistan in 1994 after her village was destroyed in the civil war. She made it all the way to San Francisco in the U.S.A. to build a new life for herself and her daughters.
9. Jillian York, who helped transform the lives of over 30,000 people through her charity organization SoArts. Known as The Baker of Internet Hackathons, her work focused on advancing creativity in girls’ education, especially in Lebanon. She has also trained hundreds of people to use her method of mixing music, technology and creativity to create great ideas for the creative movement.
10. Sarah Voight-Branham, whose group supports impoverished communities in southern Africa with access to clean water and hygiene. Voight-Branham uses her passion for design to help bring the needed access to the developing world. She also has founded the OpenStreetMap Youth team to help get more of South Africa online.
These 10 people are recognized for making the world a better place and are selected each year by CNN for their contributions to civil society.
Watch a profile of Helen Lewis below.