FOL­LOW­ING HEROES

Change the world

Activated - - FRONT PAGE - By Anna Per­lini Anna Per­lini is a co­founder of Per un Mondo Migliore, a hu­man­i­tar­ian or­ga­ni­za­tion ac­tive in the Balkans since 1995.

I was ten years old when I first heard of Al­bert Sch­weitzer, and I was re­ally im­pressed by his ded­i­ca­tion—to the point that I started con­tem­plat­ing be­com­ing a doc­tor like him and fol­low­ing in his foot­steps in Africa. Those were the days when in or­der to know more about some­thing or some­body, you had to look through books, en­cy­clo­pe­dias, and most of the time, go to the li­brary. In other words, cu­rios­ity didn't find im­me­di­ate sat­is­fac­tion, and there was a cer­tain amount of serendip­ity and mys­tery in­volved.

I was a book­worm, and up to that point my heroes were fic­tional— Robin Hood or Mary Pop­pins. Since I had a vivid imag­i­na­tion, I also in­vented my own heroes, till the day came that I started read­ing about real peo­ple who had been mis­sion­ar­ies, ex­plor­ers, free­dom fight­ers, and so on.

Al­bert was the first in a long se­ries, fol­lowed by Martin Luther King, John Kennedy, Gandhi, Florence Nightin­gale, and many oth­ers. I re­al­ized that be­sides the many aw­ful vil­lains I had to read about in the his­tory books at school, this earth has also seen some pretty amaz­ing peo­ple!

So at a young age I de­ter­mined to be­long to the cat­e­gory of the world-chang­ers. Ev­ery few weeks, I switched my pas­sion to a dif­fer­ent coun­try or pro­fes­sion, de­pend­ing on what hero I was read­ing about. Now many years later, I'm glad to say that wish came to pass. I was able to follow my heart and spend years on chal­leng­ing mis­sion fields, and I still ded­i­cate most of my time to the needy and var­i­ous worth­while causes.

It hasn't been with­out a price and with­out mis­takes, but here comes the best part. Talk­ing about mis­takes, one of the side ef­fects of this new age of “im­me­di­ately ac­ces­si­ble in­for­ma­tion” was that I got to read more about my many past and present heroes and found out that they weren't as per­fect and sin­less as I'd imag­ined. All of them had feet of clay, and some of the stuff they be­lieved in, said, or did, could be dis­ap­point­ing ini­tially.

But later, it was pre­cisely their “imperfections” and hu­man frail­ties that en­cour­aged me when I too hap­pened to fall off my pedestal.

The good th­ese world-chang­ers did far out­weighed the bad, and this in it­self is proof that you don't need to be per­fect to change your part of the world. Af­ter all, none of them were, but they changed their world!

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