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29 June 2015

The Street's Barber

Nasir Sobhani aka ‘The Streets Barber’, is a true Nomad, not just of the world, but also of the mind. Growing up in Japan, attending University in Canada, volunteering his time for Youth Work in the Vanuatu and then Australia to start up his own initiative helping the homeless, Nasir has certainly lived a fruitful life. It wasn’t all smooth sailing though, with a crippling drug addiction along the way, Nasir thanks his Baha'i faith and barbering for his new found sobriety. Working six days a week cutting hair, Nasir spends his one day off hitting the streets to give free haircuts to the homeless. He calls it, ‘Clean Cut Clean Start’.

For more stories on Nasir's street clients, check out his Instagram page here - https://instagram.com/thestreetsbarbe...

Credits:

Director: Llewellyn Fowler
Producer: Llewellyn Fowler
Camera: Scott Bradshaw, Adam Jolev
Sound: Adam Ricco, Abe Wynen
Editor: Kristof Novak
Colourist: Ollie Knocker
Sound Mixer: Kristof Novak

Music:

Out Of Line - Gesaffelstein
Escape - Yapo (Sör és Fű // Enter the SÉF)
Enter - Yapo (Sör és Fű // Enter the SÉF)
The Answer (ft. Big In Japan) - UNKLE (Trentemoller remix)



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17 December 2010

Jessica Jackley: Poverty, Money, and Love

What do you think of people in poverty? Maybe what Jessica Jackley once did: "they" need "our" help, in the form of a few coins in a jar. The co-founder of Kiva.org talks about how her attitude changed -- and how her work with microloans has brought new power to people who live on a few dollars a day.



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Or a smile from someone who’s life I touched
Added: Sunday, 1 November 2009

watch original V-Blog in Persian

The other day my little boy was busy on one of his important missions: pulling himself up on the book-shelf and meticulously throwing down all the books he could. These are his first milestones and I try to enjoy them attentively, because I know how fast he will grow up and leave the house and live his own life. And I wonder what will his life look like when he does. Will he be happy?

I was engrossed in just this thought when down came a few more books and a piece of paper landed on the floor. It fell out of the pages of a prayer book and had my husband’s handwriting on it. As I began deciphering it, I realized it was a list of goals and aspirations. Among the many ambitious career goals, one of the most memorable objectives was “to be an awesome dad and spend at least 5 hours of quality time a day with my family”. It was beautiful to read a piece of my husband’s heart. He still doesn’t know why I hugged and kissed him as he came out of the kitchen that morning. He thought it was his cologne. In our day to day life, we often don’t leave any time for a piece of our heart and we get so engrossed in fault-finding and demanding, that we forget how tender and noble the human soul is anyway. Reading my husband’s note was a reminder of the loftiness we all seek.

We set out to do grand things. None of us thinks: hey, let me life a mediocre life and be a mediocre person. Let me be a fly on the wall or let me just kind of veg out. And yet many of us seemingly end up with “mediocre” lives. Or so we think, because the standard we measure our achievements by is often unattained. But maybe the standard is our problem, and no matter whether we become the star-surgeon, the famous actress or the renowned writer or not, we can in fact be great. It is just that we measure greatness by all the wrong standards.

This week’s video on Doubletake is about a manicurist from Washington DC who’s done more with her life than I can say I have. Outwardly I have a “better” education, a sexier job title and a swimming-pool in my back yard. Outwardly she lives from pay-check to pay-check and gave up her house. Outwardly, if we made a list of worldly aspirations, I would outdo her. And yet, she puts me to shame with what she has really achieved. If we were both to die tomorrow, my guess is that she’d leave with more satisfaction that I would….watch the video!!!

My point is that we can have all sorts of goals and aspirations, and some of them we will reach and others we won’t. But at the end of the day, it’s better for us to attach our sense of achievement to “serving others” rather than titles, wealth or recognition. Because although we can try and reach those things, we just don’t know if we will and we just don’t know if the sacrifices we make for them are worth it. “Service”, on the other hand; serving others in whatever capacity and by whatever means we have available at any given moment; is something that every single individual can achieve. Right here, right now.

And then when we look back to a long life and remember the first steps we took and the life we dreamed up for ourselves, we’ll feel like “Hey! Not bad at all”…

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29 August 2009

PS 22 Choir

Watch as this inner city school is transformed when music is taught by a teacher who really cares.



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23 September 2008

Jacqueline Novogratz on Investing in Poverty

Jacqueline Novogratz shares stories of how "patient capital" can bring sustainable jobs, goods, services -- and dignity -- to the world's poorest.



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29 August 2008

Story of a Sign

With a stroke of the pen, a stranger transforms the afternoon for another man in this emotionally stirring film by Alonso Alvarez Barreda. The winner of the short film online competition at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, Story of a Sign has since become a regular feature of Mexico's national television programming.



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The benefits of sacrifice
Added: Monday, 11 August 2008

watch original V-Blog in Persian

watch original V-Blog in German

One of the things that many people say and I used to say, is "one day when I'm rich and famous I will do this and that"...I'll build water wells in African villages, I'll create a school for the underprivileged or even just a simple workshop for women...it doesn't matter what our lofty plans, we imagine a certain level of success and achievement to be the prerequisite for doing great things. After all, how can you give anything when you don't have anything?

But in the last couple of years it's occurred to me that making your mark or making any meaningful contribution is a privilege that every human being can partake of. It is a process that requires sacrifice, not comfort! A friend of mine once told me that the most precious wedding gift she received was a chicken. After panning across the crystals and china in her lounge, I asked her if she was serious. And she explained, that she lived in a village at the time and her neighbor owned nothing but a chicken in this world. That was his most valuable possession. And that's what he gave her. Everything he'd owned.

The word sacrifice is often associated with loss and pain. We think of it as something that we give away and it's gone. The man with one chicken gives that one chicken away and now he's got none! But the Latin root of the word, sagrificium, denotes trading in something lower for something higher – rendering something sacred! So in the case of the man with the chicken the chicken becomes sacred. But can we render that concept tangible? What does it mean for the chicken to be 'sacred'?

I'd like to refer readers to the video called Infinite Vision featured in our videos section. It truly speaks for itself, but here's some info. In it, Dr. V of India, who was sent into retirement at age 58 with rheumatism and an unexciting pension, decides to start his life legacy around an eye-clinic that is designed to help blind people regain their sight. 40 million worldwide suffer from blindness, 12 million of them live in India and 80% of them suffer unnecessarily. Their blindness can be reversed. He started with 11 beds. Him and his family sold their jewellery and mortgaged their homes in order to keep building the clinic. They literally gave everything they had. It was not about how much they had, it was about scraping together the little security that they had built over the years to create a project that would ultimately help hundreds, later thousands of people. Today, 30 years later, at age 88, Dr. V has a whole series of large clinics all over India where he cures the blindness of tens of thousands of people.

And just to give you an idea of what that 'higher' thing is, that we trade our blood, sweat and resources for when we give - here is what Dr. V says:

"When we grow in spiritual consciousness, we identify ourselves with all that is in the world. So there is no exploitation. It is ourselves we are helping. It is ourselves we are healing."

Or get your money back - serious!
Added: Friday, 22 February 2008

watch original V-Blog in Persian

There's a book you can buy in German, which promises you the secrets of becoming rich. It costs about 700 Euro and offers you a timeless money-back guarantee if you don't, indeed, get rich after giving it 3 months to do its magic. Okay, so it sounds like one of those many formulaic books that have come out on the market. And each of them contains some amazing advice, but I have to say that this book is the culmination of 20 years of research on the part of a man who has compiled not only the aggregate wisdom contained in most other books, but also personal stories from people like Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates.

You're not sold yet? I heard the author talk and it was his interview that convinced me he knows what he's talking about. The first common denominator he used for persons who amass great amounts of wealth was service. He said if you think of Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey, they have been serving large masses of people. Although you might think service is an objective outcome, it's the intention he was talking about. He also said it was important to do something you love and enjoy, not something that is tedious and strenuous. This does not mean that hard work is not an intricate part of building wealth, but that you must enjoy that hard work. You must find the thing you love to stay up for ; if you're ever going to reach superlatives.

The next related common denominator was believing in the product your selling. This could be a vitamin pill, a house, a religion, a cough remedy ; whatever it is, people who are convinced of their product will convince you. He said you don't need money yourself when you can get 100 people to buy into your (genuine) enthusiasm and commit to paying you in advance for a product you can then go out and get made with your customer's advance cash. If you don't believe in the product and it sucks, this method will only cause mistrust and ultimately lead to failure, maybe even debt. So a genuine belief that your product can 'serve' is paramount.

His next point was keeping the goal always in mind. When you have the goal in mind, you can fail, stumble and fall, but eventually you'll get there, because you don't lose sight of your destination. But most importantly, he said, this goal must be externally oriented. In other words it must be you trying to achieve something positive for others: Be it making the best computers for people, providing hope and advice as a talk show guru, building the best shoes in the world, or whatever making them laugh.

Likewise he advises aspiring magnates not to dwell on the past. When you're a runner on a race track you don't look back when you're running forward. Although some of your past experiences might be great lessons, most of the negative ones tend to hold you back and wear you down, so stay focused on the future.

Now I didn't buy the book. My goal is not to be super rich as such and I didn't feel like spending 700 Euro. But what I heard from the author, who came across as a very intelligent man, was very valuable to me in itself. And I have an inkling that the book would probably teach you to rethink making 'wealth' per se your goal anyway. Wealth or fame in themselves are not a goal, but means to serve more. Likewise, what I gathered from the gentleman's interview was that money is a by-product, a culmination and fruition of an effort or passion to serve and excel. Ideally it's not the money that's driving you but the thing that you love doing so much. That's what gets you the wealth.

Wealth can mean many things, including spiritual abundance. But material abundance can be a manifestation of it. As long as you don't let your possessions possess you, wealth can be a blessing:

O YE THAT PRIDE YOURSELVES ON MORTAL RICHES! Know ye in truth that wealth is a mighty barrier between the seeker and his desire, the lover and his beloved. The rich, but for a few, shall in no wise attain the court of His presence nor enter the city of content and resignation. Well is it then with him, who, being rich, is not hindered by his riches from the eternal kingdom, nor deprived by them of imperishable dominion. By the Most Great Name! The splendor of such a wealthy man shall illuminate the dwellers of heaven even as the sun enlightens the people of the earth!

SON OF SPIRIT! I created thee rich, why dost thou bring thyself down to poverty? Noble I made thee, wherewith dost thou abase thyself? Out of the essence of knowledge I gave thee being, why seekest thou enlightenment from anyone beside Me? Out of the clay of love I molded thee, how dost thou busy thyself with another? Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting.

SON OF MAN! Thou dost wish for gold and I desire thy freedom from it. Thou thinkest thyself rich in its possession, and I recognize thy wealth in thy sanctity therefrom. By My life! This is My knowledge, and that is thy fancy; how can My way accord with thine?

CHILDREN OF DUST! Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor, lest heedlessness lead them into the path of destruction, and deprive them of the Tree of Wealth. To give and to be generous are attributes of Mine; well is it with him that adorneth himself with My virtues.

YE RICH ONES ON EARTH! The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My trust, and be not intent only on your own ease.

To find ourselves we need to lose ourselves
Added: Thursday, 31 May 2007

watch original V-Blog in Persian

Recently everyone I talk to seems to be on a quest to 'finding him or herself'. For example, I had lunch with a friend yesterday who just quit her job, because she wants to find herself. In fact I have several friends who are on a similar quest, looking for identity. They try new jobs, new hobbies, new countries, new partners, always searching for themselves, trying to understand who they are. And sometimes they find answers, but these answers don't seem to satisfy them for long.

I don't blame anyone for looking for the answers within themselves. Our society tells us to do that. Successful people often say, 'you need to have faith in yourself, believe in yourself'. The people we look up to and emulate are people who have created wealth, success and comfort for themselves. They teach us that we're here on this planet to find personal happiness.

My limited experience on this planet has taught me otherwise. I think that if we are really looking for answers, we need to take ourselves out of the equation entirely. I truly think we are our own biggest stumbling block. We keep bumping into ourselves while trying to find ourselves. We're in our own way. The miracles I have witnessed, the greatness I have seen in people has come out when they take themselves out of the equation. When they rid themselves of them 'selves' and become a pure, clean channel for divine assistance, for miracles to happen. It's when they leave behind what they want and think they need that they become heroes. The greatest achievements come from people who are humbled by the greatness that is this creation and all that is therein and see themselves as channels for this greatness to flow through. People who become part of the greatness leave their own selfish desires behind. Those people live life every moment to its fullest. They aren't lost in the basement of self, looking for themselves. They have found their higher purpose.

I think that the less of 'me' there is, the more divine light will shine through in this world. And I believe that the reason why religion and politics have a bad reputation all over the world is because religious and political leaders are full of themselves and promote their own interests and those of a select few. This is fundamentally flawed as creation is one and good can only come from unity. Our purpose should not be to create personal happiness. It doesn't last anyway. There is no bottom to self and desire, that cup can never be filled. If we make this life about service to others however, then will we begin to feel the light of true joy.Our only enemy in this world, the only real devil, is 'self.'

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