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Do you know an Invisible Giant?

Invisible Giants are people who are overcoming obstacles and accomplishing extraordinary things, to change the world around them for the better. Often these leaders go unnoticed.

We want you to help us unearth these incredible individuals and give them the recognition and development they deserve.

1. Tell us about an Invisible Giant who has made a difference to your life by posting a comment below.

2. We will feature the best submissions on our blog and homepage. Our readership ranges from senior leaders in business, government and civil society, to grassroots community organisers around the world.

3. The Invisible Giant you’ve nominated will be considered for scholarships to join leadership development programmes, proudly sponsored by Leaders’ Quest.

We’ll share this opportunity with you soon!

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This past year I had the opportunity to participate in Leaders Quest in NYC. Sitting in a living room on the upper West Side, our host Skyped in a young woman from Kabul whose presence and words exuded moral leadership and courage. Sharzad Akbarl leads the Afghanistan 1400, a group of young, well-educated and mostly male Afghans who started a new political movement with hopes for the future. It is extraordinary that a woman was selected to lead a group whose objective is to transcend ethnic divides and build a more stable Afghanistan. The idea was born, like many political movements, at a local café, really a grass roots movement. As I listened to Sharzad's story of courage and hope, I felt a shift in my perceptions and the way I view the world. The experienced changed me.

By Jody Porrazzo PhD on 14/12/2013

I thank god 2 day dis person who is in my life 2dy and am proud to call her a true friend,I stil doesn't know how she stil surviving ,I am well educated,and were a spoiled child who gets evrithing dats wanted.Today I realise dat she were invisible 2 me when I had what I wanted,even friends.I am educated,well of family,and lived life wit not knowing about or thinking about abusive ppl.I am today a survivor of an abusive relationship,cause how she helped me ,when I were abused by my ex boyfriend.And how she do it 2 be strong 4 people when they need her she is always there even if some were being advised by her jus end up using her.I am ova 10years older than her age ,but 2day I can say no matter how young u r is the knowledge u hav in life an her words were always to any1.any1 can judge her,doesn't help others ,4 people 2 see how good of a person she is ,or being notice,and dats the way she is and she doesn't need anyones approval but only god pls veri pretty pls I wud love to make her unvisible to evryone ,coz she is still a recovering abused person who need to be heard from and her lyf story she went through is deeply touching and would love 2 let those others who need an invisible giant her to b theirs ,an amazing person who will be definetly be a change to someone ,she helped me tru a lot ,she'll relate to any1 and evri sad storie u r going tru coz wot she went tru ,its not a story,but a whole series of stories....Today I can say when I had been invisible to my family ,she were visible to me ,and wit her support I feel visible to family ,but 4 her she is stil unvisible to evryone...

By Crystal bowman on 31/07/2013

A fortnight ago, I had an opportunity to meet an incredible woman called Leela. She seemed quite surprised about the fact that I was interested in hearing the story of her life, “You want to spend time talking to me? Really? Are you sure?” She was married at the age of 13 and lived a precarious life in a makeshift house which was often burned down by local contractors and criminals. Having to start from scratch more than just once was quite demotivating and exhausting. She used to sort garbage and supply water by carrying it on her head to local municipal schools. While doing this she came in touch with Stree Mukti Sangathan, an organization working towards the welfare and empowerment of women in Mumbai. She started working for them as a maid and used to clean and sweep their office compound. Gradually she learnt how to file documents and started doing a lot more than just cleaning for the organization. In 2011, she was selected for the fellowship programme. She had no self-confidence and constantly doubted herself and her capability to work because of lack of any form of education. But the impact of the fellowship on her was the turning point in her life. Since the past one year, she has been working towards improving the health and sanitation in her community and the surrounding areas. Within a short span of a year, she has achieved almost 90% of her task towards a clean and healthy community and has even been successful in establishing friendly relations with the local authorities and political figures who are all supportive of her work and efforts. She is widely known and respected by the people in her community. During the course of the fellowship, she also started learning how to read and write and is beginning to get a good grip on the same. I am absolutely amazed by her story of hardships followed by her own stance of doing something concrete and impactful with her life. By listening to her story and seeing the impact of her work in the community, I realized that she was an inspiring example of a grassroot leader!

By Shivi Dwivedi on 25/07/2013

T is an invisible giant I haven't connected with in years. I knew her when we both worked together in the desert state of Rajasthan, India. She is a young woman who met with a horrific road accident while on a bike, volunteering in Africa. T has since slowly rebuilt her life. She has relearnt to speak. She is learning to walk independently and is now pursuing a masters degree in the US... I recently spoke to T and I was thrilled to hear her positive intelligent voice, still vivacious, still full of life. Her courage inspires me to rethink my definitions of success and failure.

By A on 24/07/2013

I discovered a man recently who lives on the street by choice. He resented paying an extortionate amount of money for rent and then having to working too hard to actually enjoy his home. He felt disconnected from nature and he thought he was becoming materialistic. He has been conducting a life experiment where he sleeps wherever he likes, everything he owns is on his back in a rucksack and he works when he needs to do make a (very decent) living. He is happier than ever. Not only is he an invisible giant but he has challenged my perception around the people on the street who we call 'homeless'.

By J on 18/07/2013

My Invisible Giant is Ratna. I have met Ratna only once and yet she continues to inspires me. Ratna is a young girl from a slum in Chembur, where life is tough. Nine out of ten women suffer violence in her community. Ratna was horrified by the insensitivity of local police when she first sought support on a matter of domestic violence. She and the women in her community found that local police were reluctant to lodge complaints, especially in matters of domestic and sexual violence, often dismissing them as 'family matters'. As Ratna became more informed of her rights, she discovered that the police were more willing to listen to those who know their rights and are unafraid to say so. Ratna has since worked across her slum community in Chembur to establish women’s self-help groups to share her knowledge and provide support for victims. She often accompanies victims to the police station, or writes formal letters of complaint to ensure their cases are heard. She has also set up a pressure group, and built a volunteer team with local boys to help break the negative cycle of violence within her community. Along with other women from the community she has trained committees to hold the police accountable at six stations serving over 100,000 people. Ratna says that her most important achievement has been reinstating the police presence in her community. A tiny, one-room building designed to house an officer was built almost 20 years ago, but she had never seen it used. “We asked the police station to reopen it and the women agreed to pay for the repairs,” she says proudly. “Now we can also use it as a meeting place.” I would love meet Ratna again and for her to be able to join a Quest.

By Aditi Thorat on 12/07/2013

Earlier this year I met Vanita Waghmare, a Leaders’ Quest Fellow and a true Invisible Giant. She’s a mother of three, and a grandmother, and has become the focal point for people in her rural community in Maharashtra. She is a member of the Katkari, a nomadic tribe that has been marginalised and ignored by the government. Her dedication and passion has galvanised the community and forced local officials to fulfill their obligations to provide food, education and healthcare. She is a true inspiration to her children, and it was a real privilege to witness her pride when they returned home from school at the end of the day. I know her footprint is getting bigger and bigger each day as she encourages more and more local women to stand up and claim their rights.

By Matt L on 10/07/2013

The Invisible Giant I would like to write about is my ‘Aunty’. After spending many years in an abusive relationship and finally leaving her husband, she spent the best part of the last 40 years dedicating her life to helping others. She volunteered much of her time in shelters for victims of domestic violence, she also unofficially fostered/adopted many children over the years, some were children of friends that couldn’t manage, some were abandoned, some lived locally and simply didn’t have a real home to go back to, her home was open to everyone, despite being the single mother of six children herself. She is a wonderfully loving and caring mother, grandmother, sister, aunty and friend and has never allowed life to take its toll, she just keeps giving.

By JP on 09/07/2013

I spent 3 years working at a hotel and was fortunate during this time to encounter an invisible giant. Wayne Li had been working at the same hotel for 25 years as a kitchen porter having left his family and native China to earn money. He lived on site and spoke very little English. Wayne would request to work 7 day weeks as he had no social life to speak of. In his time between shifts he would repair fellow employees bikes and clean their rooms for a small fee. One day I asked one of the restaurant managers whether they had spoken, or knew anything of Wayne. It transpired that for the last 25 years Wayne had been, and continued to send almost every penny he earned back to his family of 12 back in China. The last time he visited was 9 years ago. He had a child of 8 that he had never met. For the past 25 years Wayne has been sacrificing his lifestyle so that his family could have a more prosperous future. I hope that Wayne can one day return and spend time with his family. But to me he was an invisible giant who wanted nothing more than to help his family.

By Tom Brooks on 08/07/2013

I had the opportunity to meet with two ‘Invisible Giants’ yesterday. Aaron Sonson is the co-creator of the Stop and Search app, a pioneering phone app that keeps track of police stop-and-search incidents, and aims to make them fair and transparent. He’s formed an unlikely partnership with Bill Leask, Product Director at PR Newswire Europe, who’s been working with his team to create a positive impact by sharing their day-job skills to support social initiatives. I learned about how their unlikely partnership and led to a recent feature on ITV London News…inspiring stuff!

By Melanie George on 05/07/2013

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