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Amy Stokes, founder of Infinite Family, goes to CNN Heroes Award Ceremony

Amy Stokes, founder of Infinite Family, wrote to me to say that she is on her way to the CNN Hero Top Ten Awards in Los Angeles. Amy began her work mentoring “at risk” children on the south side of Chicago–the same area my husband grew up in. Today, she has taken what she learned and put it to work in South Africa. Her NGO, Infinite Family, provides mentoring by video through computer labs established for the purpose. The children with mentors are performing significantly better in school than their classmates, with 90% passing their end-of-school exams, as compared to the norm of about 60%. The mentors live in 10 countries, including 35 different states in the US.

This idea is, in some ways, very simple. The value of human-to-human contact really cannot be underestimated, even in the most desperate situations. However, I can imagine that Amy and her colleagues have faced considerable challenges just setting up the labs and working on a day-to-day basis with the children. This part was not simple at all. It is hard for people in the rich nations to even imagine what it takes to set up a computer lab in an informal settlement in South Africa. My hat is off to Amy, for her concept, her courage, and her perseverance.

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