Featured #100Acts

In 2014, we launched our initiative, 100 Acts of Global Citizenship. Through this program, committed people - like you - received an intensive overview of a global issue along with a pathway to solving it and the framework for them to map their action on that issue. The result? Infinite possibilities - all in three days. Now, explore the 5 acts below, nominated by other Melton Fellows for their initiative and strides in making a strong impact within local communities.

Untold Stories of the Transgender Community in India, by Sonali Murti

Sonali met Kumari, a local "hijra" in Bangalore, and was able to share Kumari's story with 40,000 residents in Bangalore through an interview article in The Urban Post. Sonali hopes this act will motivate others to take a small step towards preventing discrimination of transgender people in Bangalore and around the world.

  • What was your motivation to do this act? Click to read more

    Every day, on my way to work, I meet several interesting individuals. A common sight at most toll gates on highways are a group of ‘Hijras’, a term used for transgender people in India. They spend their days on the blistering hot roads, with their signature clapping, going from vehicle to vehicle asking for money in return for blessings. They form their own communities and groups after being ostracized from society. Their own families do not accept them and shun them for being “different”. Society does not make any attempt to understand their views or treat them as equal. It is extremely difficult for them to find a job or a place to stay while being true to themselves. Some are even denied their basic human rights. Without any other option for survival they resort to begging for money, some even demanding it. Most people don’t even question why they discriminate against transgender individuals, they simply do. It is hard to imagine a world that judges you constantly for something that is natural to you, but for them it’s everyday life.

    Taking part on the Narratives Project Team made me want to hear their stories. Kumari was willing to share hers, which was quite different from the stereotypical way in which most transgender people are viewed in India. She spoke about change and acceptance, why she didn’t want to walk the streets asking for money and why she chose a profession where people valued and respected her and her relationship with God. She has paved a path for herself, one step at a time, breaking several stereotypes and raising awareness just by being herself and working with dignity.

    As a writer for a local newspaper, The Urban Post, I was able to share her story with 40,000 residents in Bangalore through an interview and article. I hope this act will motivate others to see that every individual is unique and help them take a small step towards preventing discrimination of transgender people in Bangalore.

    You know, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender - people are people. -Judith Light

  • Are you planning a follow up? Click to read more

    I would definitely like to do a follow up for this. A public newspaper is a powerful medium for raising awareness on issues that the society may not want to talk about. I have written a few more articles for women’s rights after Kumar’s story. I’m hoping to do another interview soon, with someone who has a powerful story to share.

  • Were you able to measure the results of your act? How would you increase the impact if you could do this act again? click for more

    The paper was circulated to around 40,000 residents in my locality for free. When I spoke to Kumari after the interview was released she was thrilled! She said several people spoke to her about it and congratulated her for being brave and sharing her story. She said, “ I felt more accepted and loved than I have in a long time.” That was so special to hear! We got some positive reviews from the readers as well for sharing a story about someone they see everyday, but don’t really notice. On my way to work, the day the paper was circulated, I saw several young school boys reading  the article on their way to school. I believe that inspiring youngsters and making them aware of these issues at a young age is vital for them to become more accepting and concerned about equal rights for everybody, regardless of sex, gender or race.

    This act could have perhaps had a bigger impact if we had an online copy of the newsletter as well. Then it would reach people all across the globe and not just my locality. This is something we plan to work on.

  • What preperatory steps are necessary if others want to reproduce this act? Click to read more

    Doing a interview on someone’s story can be quite tricky because it is so personal. I had to try to structure my questions in such a way that Kumar would share her point of view, and not in a way that I would get only the answers I was looking for. You have to have an open mind and structure your questions based on the person’s answers.  Another issue that I faced was on editing the interview. Kumari was so open and frank and I would have loved to include everything she said, but I had to keep in mind the audience reading the article as well. She spoke extensively about religion (Hinduism), her connection with the Goddess and even narrated an incident where she felt the Goddess taking control over her body. People of all kinds of faith live in our community, Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Jains, etc. and I had to constantly be aware of how someone of another faith would feel while reading this. It can be quite tricky to not offend anyone, the interviewee or the reader, when it comes to a delicate and personal matter like faith and religion.

  • Could you share an anecdote from your act? Click to read more

    What I found extremely fascinating was that Kumari’s fingers never stopped weaving the flowers. She didn’t miss a beat even while sharing her emotional story. Kumari was quite anxious that other ‘Hijras’ would read her story and harass her because she opted for another way of living her life and she didn’t believe in asking for money on the roads like the majority of them. Nonetheless, she wanted her voice to be heard. I think she is in a difficult situation where she doesn’t have a family, the society doesn’t accept her completely  nor does the Hijra community.

    However, while I was doing the interview a few people who know her stopped by and they all had really good things to say about her. We still have a long way to go but our society is slowly opening up to LGBT rights, only through awareness and education.

    Read Sonali's article in The Urban Post.

Stop Labelling, by Oscar Garcia

Oscar is fighting stereotypes and starting discussions about race through social media, in his classes, and in daily interactions. As Oscar puts it, “I decided to be the voice for those who are too afraid or don’t want to be judged by others for speaking up about what they believe in.”

  • What was your motivation to do this act? Click to read more

    For the past year we've heard in the news about police violence in the United States. At first, I saw each situation as a cop who did something wrong towards one individual but my peers saw it in a completely different way. They began to call whites racist and said some things that made me feel uncomfortable and confused by their reactions. I hadn't experienced anything like this in the 8 years I've lived in New Orleans and it was all very surprising. I tried to ignore it at first but then I began to hear the same from some of my teachers. As the only Latino on campus I had no way to voice my opinion and I felt left out of the conversation.

    I discussed in my paper a situation that occurred in my classroom. We were speaking about the reconstruction era when the slaves were free and how people reacted.  As the conversation when on, many of my colleagues were saying things such as “all whites are bad”, “they don’t care about us”  and “I cannot get along with people who are white”.

    I am a minority at a minority school and I was shocked at how my classmate reacted to the conversation, and so was my teacher. I raised my hand and made a comment -- I said I didn't understand how everyone could sit there with all this hate. I said that we should work together to find a solution to the issues of violence, and negative thoughts would not fix anything we must work as individuals in the community, educate others and form a bond to a new future.  I decided to take another step and share my opinion on the situation on social media. I received many different responses, and many were more negative than positive. Many said I should not comment since I myself am not black and I do not understand what’s going on. However, while I am not black I am a person that lives in this community and wants to change the idea of Us vs Them into unity.

  • Are you planning a follow up? Click to read more

    I would love to have a follow up where people can share their stories on how they encounter racism in their community and what do to stop it and what did they learn from it.

  • Were you able to measure the results of your act? How would you increase the impact if you could do this act again? click for more

    Not really. It was mainly a statement of my opinion and seeing how others reacted to it. I could perhaps work with more people who see the situation as I did, and interact more with people from different cultures to learn what they go through every single day of their lives.

  • What preperatory steps are necessary if others want to reproduce this act? Click to read more

    For other to reproduce this they will need to meet new people and interact with others who outside their usual circle of friends. Learn about their culture -- the differences and similarities between your culture and theirs.

  • Could you share an anecdote from your act? Click to read more

    Martin Luther King, Jr.
    I Have a Dream
    Delivered 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

    I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

    This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

    With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

Connecting to One Another, by Maria Mathew

Maria wanted various parts of society to interact with each other as they would with their friends or equals. She wanted people to look at others that they would normally look down on and see them as another human being, so she organized a free hugs campaign!

  • What issue did your Act address? Click to read more

    My issue was the disconnect between different parts of society and an indifference of people towards those who they do not consider as their equals. The goal was to get people from various parts of society to interact with each other as they would with their friends or equals. I didn't want the interaction to be an act of charity. I wanted people to look at those they would normally look down on and see them as another human being and not a lesser creature.

    I gathered three friends of mine and went to a very crowded street. We had small printed posters that we held up and they said "free hugs". We also had a whole bunch of extras so many people would join us for a bit to give away the free hugs. And we kept yelled "It's the only thing free today on this very expensive street" which was hilarious (and we also probably looked like absolute clowns) but people loved it. Most people anyway. We went to a busy shopping street where the "upper middle class" of society come to shop but also is filled with beggars and roadside hawkers, autorickshaw drivers, salespeople, police officers and everyone else that these shoppers consider unworthy of their attention.

  • What did you find challenging? Click to read more

    What I found challenging is that current Indian society can be a bit narrowminded and public acts of affection such as hugging may be frowned upon. Recently I participated in a campaign called the "Kiss of Love" where young people came together in a public space to kiss/hug/show other forms of affection in public, and due to the large protests against it and obstruction from the authorities, it was cancelled. However, when we did our free hugs campaign, all the policemen on the street were laughing and smiling and encouraging us so it was really nice. A few people on the street however, did give us looks of disgust. But those people were few and far between.

    In fact, later we were walking down the road and we heard a few people talking about us and how nice the demonstration was. 

  • What can you take away from this experience? click for more

    My takeaway would be that is isn't so hard to bring people together if you put your mind to it, though you may feel that they would object to such an interaction. One albino teacher joined us for a while and he got plenty of hugs and he was so happy. Usually on a street, albinos get a lot of weird looks over here. It was the best part of the whole campaign for me. Then there was a time when a group of Muslim girls, covered from head to toe, who you may expect to be very refined in public, came running and hugged us so affectionately. It was so nice, and it was a reminder of how all this hate and prejudice due to a some terrorists should not be taken out on the whole community. Another man wasn't very open to hugging us, but he grabbed a poster and his wife and daughter and gave them both a huge bear hug, and he even came back and took a photo. Another shop owner made us go into his shop and hug all his employees. It was really an amazing experience.

  • What would you like the world to know about your Act? Click to read more

    I think it was an awesome act because it left my friends and I feeling really nice at the end of the day. Hundreds of hugs tend to have that effect on you and everyone should do it! Akhil Talashi, Aashrita Abraham and Carlos Lopez were amazing for coming and supporting me on their Sunday afternoon and I'm lucky to have them as my friends. Plus, the Melton Foundation and our 100 Acts program got a mention in the newspaper.

The Zero Waste Challenge, by Juli Maier

Juli, Neli, Eva, Marleen and Nina decided to live one month (one week for Marleen) without producing waste (especially plastic waste). They wanted to inspire others to reduce waste and help them find ways to do so while integrating those ideas into their everyday lives. They created a blog and shared their experiences on Facebook.

  • What was the background and motivation for this Act? Click to read more

    Juli Maier, Neli Blum, Eva Junge, Marleen Haupt and Nina Margies (Nina is not a Melton Fellow) took the challenge to live one month without producing waste, especially plastic waste. We documented our experience on our blog and on Facebook. "No time to waste!" was the slogan of our challenge. We motivated also others to see that the time is right now to take action on the world’s wasteproblem and it is you and I who start making the difference today. We invited to join us and the challenge from November 1 to 30, 2014 to explore how easy it is to reduce, reuse and recycle. The challenge was taken by our followers for one day, one week or for one month. We received very positive feedback from friends and family who joined us in our challenge. Further we could find some very helpful strategies which help us to implement a less wasteful lifestyle after the challenge. During my Master studies, I learned a lot about strong sustainability and the need to change our behavior and lifestyles. Plus, shortly before the 100 Act I have moved from Mexico, where it is quite easy to buy unpacked fresh things, to Germany where everything is double plastic wrapped packed. Shocked by all the package waste, I started to search for alternatives and I learned about a Start up in Berlin, who planned a package free supermarket. The same month the 100Acts Program was launched, they opened their package free supermarket, and the Zero-Waste-Challenge was born.

  • Are you planning a follow-up? Click to read more

    After the challenge my waste production came back already at the same level than before, but I could adapt some strategies that I have learned during the 1month challenge. One of the biggest problems is that the package free supermarket, although it is in the same city, it takes me almost 1hour to get their. But I am still interested in the topic of waste, and I am in contact with various institutions and start ups who address the topic. I still don't have a clear picture of how a follow-up may look like, but I am working on it.

  • Were you able to measure the results of your act? How could you increase impact if you do this act again? click for more

    When I pitched the idea at the MFGCC2014, three other Fellows, Neli Blum, Marleen Haupt and Eva Junge, got interested and joined the challenge. Together with a friend of mine, Nina Margies we took the challenge and shared our experience on a blog. We significantly reduced our waste during the month to almost zero. But the nicest effect was, that even strangers joined the challenge and shared their experience with us. If we'll do it again, we probably would try to gain a bigger audience and connect with organization with similar challenges or interests.

  • What preparatory steps are necessary if others want to reproduce your act? Click to read more

    Actually it is quite easy: 1st stop buying packed grocery! 2nd share your experience with friends and family and become an advocate of zero waste.

  • Could you share an anecdote related to your act? Click to read more

    You suddenly realize how much waste you produce every day. After the first week I became an expert in avoiding waste. In a restaurant before ordering something to dring I would indicate that I don't want a straw, etc. But I also learned that you can't force people to radical change. I live with my husband, and after 2 weeks of joining the challenge he come home with a huge bag full of chocolates and chips, telling me: "I couldn't find any nibbles without package, and I can't live without nibbles, sorry thats it!"

Empowering Changemakers, by Natalia Arcos

For one month, Natalia challenged friends on Facebook to take positive actions in their community and share the results. To quote one of her friends: A person all the way in Chile causing a group of Indians to clean up their neighbourhood park with just a status update? This is definitely Global Citizenship!

  • What was your motivation to do this act? Click to read more

    The main motivation was that i realized I knew a lot of people that behave as a global citizen every day and are not part of the Melton Foundation. So through my social media platforms I attempted to empower these people and show them that their acts are importants and valuable. Secondly, I wanted to motivate my friends to perform positives acts related to any topic relevant to them.

  • Are you planning a follow up? Click to read more

    I will probably repeat the act, but through a follow-up of the people already interviewed, to let us know how they doing with their acts and if they have made progress.

    Were you able to measure the results of your act? How would you increase the impact if you could do this act again? click for more

    I was able to measure informally. I checked the influence the challenge had in India, Talca, Santiago and Puerto Varas. In the future I would motivate not just my friends on Facebook, but also my "inner circle", so that together our acts could be multiplied as a string that grows over time, attempting to convince and persuade by example or behavior.

  • What preparatory steps are necessary if others want to reproduce this act? Click to read more

    This is an easy act, but with a great and large impact. The steps are: identify the persons that you would like to interview, tell them the goal, ask if you can use her or his story, prepare the stories, translate if necessary, collect good and useful photos, share with strategic persons with similar interests, answer any questions about the project and must make regular updates. Your page should become a must-see place during the day or week. 

  • Could you share an anecdote from your act? Click to read more

    A result that I didn't expect was the influence of this act on my own life. I feel more inspired to do activites related to "positive actions" including reducing waste, sustainability and other topics. This was a good opportunity to become closer to my acquaintances, friends and family and get to know them better.


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