Kharas has received strong support from the United Nations, and from Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu who, in an open letter, said "we need efforts like yours" and called Kharas' work " ... a powerful communicating tool to encourage people to change their behaviour... an outstanding contribution..."
Kharas' work includes three global campaigns, No Excuses (domestic and sexual abuse), Buzz & Bite (malaria bed nets), and Three Amigos (condom use against HIV), and a regional campaign, Hind and Hamza, often described as “the world’s most difficult mass communications project.” Hind and Hamza teaches universal values like gender equality, racism prevention, fostering open dialogue, accepting others and child labor prevention to children in 27 countries across the Middle East, reaching directly into more than 350 million Arabic-speaking households.
Kharas assembles and directs volunteers to create the campaigns and distributes them free of charge to any requester anywhere in the world. He has distributed thousands of tapes and DVDs of his work to health workers, hospitals, schools, tv, radio and news broadcasters, NGOs and others working in the field to improve the lives of others.
Thousands of people throughout the world have written thanking him for changing so many lives. UNICEF tested Kharas' approach and testified that the works induced observable changes in the behaviors of both children and adults – testimony to the community impact of his work. Population Services International, a US nongovernmental organization, stated that during the time his Three Amigos condom shorts were playing condom sales increased from 12 million to 40 million units.
International agencies have acknowledged the contribution Firdaus’ work has made to the cause of development. He is a recipient of the United Nations Peace Medal and the George Foster Peabody Award. His bed nets campaign won the Anti-Malaria Award because of its impact in motivating hundreds of thousands of viewers in southern Africa to make the change to sleeping under bed nets.
The change that Culture Shift has motivated increases the effectiveness of current international development activities by promoting donor programs and helping to sustain more hopeful communities, living with better health, and increasing their understanding of the potential for change.
Kharas' impact is even broader. He has helped to train thousands of young people in the Netherlands, India, Malaysia, Singapore and South Africa in his craft thereby not simply helping people live healthier but creating new job opportunities in higher value activities.
Of his nomination Kharas said he was honored and that his “intention is to shine a light where there is darkness.”
About the Guardian International Humanitarian Award
The Award aims to honor the unsung heroes of international development;
To support Firdaus and his work, vote at http://bit.ly/
About Firdaus Kharas and Chocolate Moose Media
A Canadian citizen, Firdaus Kharas was born in 1955 in Kolkata, India during Kolkata’s most turbulent period of social upheaval, which would influence his entire life. First introduced to progressive causes by his mother, he was taught the realities of disenfranchised people and at age eight was taken to Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying. He attended high school in Mumbai, India where he taught in a slum every weekend for three years.
Connect with Firdaus on Twitter @Culture_Shift. See his newest campaign, The Solar Campaign which has a Kickstarter project where he is looking to raise funds to translate the new campaign into multiple languages.
Chocolate Moose Media is the production company founded and run by Firdaus Kharas which combines commercial work and nonprofit campaigns. Further details about Chocolate Moose media can be found at www.chocmoose.com.
Media contact: Cathy Cook, Node Communications