Editor’s Note: Aaron Jackson was a 2007 CNN Hero who co-founded the nonprofit Planting Peace. Among its various projects, the group provides deworming treatment and education to impoverished communities in Haiti and around the world.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/11/art.cnnhero.aaron.jackson.jpg caption="Aaron Jackson (back row, center) says his organization is able to deworm 250 children for less than the cost of a pack of cigarettes."]
Founder and President, Planting Peace
2007 CNN Hero
Gandhi once said, "When fighting for a just cause people tend to pop up."
As founder and president of Planting Peace, I see this every day in my quest to bring a little peace to the world. When Planting Peace needs someone or something for our cause, people just seem to “'pop up” and reach out to help. In November of 2007, it wasn't just a single person that popped up, but rather, many people – people watching CNN worldwide.
After CNN named me a CNN Hero and aired the CNN Hero documentary on my quest to treat the world of intestinal parasites through Planting Peace, thousands of people responded with open arms and generous hearts. In those first few days, I received literally thousands of letters, emails and phone calls offering monetary donations and a range of services. The response was truly overwhelming.
After seeing my CNN Hero story on the CNN.com, Rainn Wilson, aka Dwight Schrute of the hit television show, ‘The Office,’ contacted me via email. Although his work was previously unknown to me, he and I have since become good friends, and he has joined me in bringing awareness to the need of deworming children in countries in which starvation is so prevalent.
A week after the initial airing of the CNN Hero documentary, I was also a featured guest on Anderson Cooper 360°. Once again, the response by people across the world was overwhelming.
Through the assistance and donations of all of those who “popped up” after viewing the CNN Hero profile or reading my story on CNN.com, Planting Peace has developed national deworming programs aiding over a million people in Sudan and the Dominican Republic.
We have also reached our goal in being able to purchase enough deworming medication to reach all 3.2 million children in Haiti, a program we are deploying this month. Experience has shown that deworming can dramatically reduce malnutrition. One study in Zanzibar found that antiparasite treatment can reduce children’s malnutrition by 62 percent and reduce anemia by 59 percent. We hope to achieve the same great results in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
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