Social innovator, renowned director and global humanitarian Firdaus Kharas produces animation, documentaries, films and television series designed to educate, entertain, and change societal and individual behavior via a process he calls Culture Shift. His goal is to positively influence viewers’ knowledge, attitude and behavior, especially that of children and young adults, in order to better the human condition.
Kharas’ work provides innovative solutions to some of the world's toughest issues by confronting and overcoming the fault lines which separate us: language and culture; religion and ethnicity; tradition and history; stereotype and stigma; racism and prejudice; hatred and fear. “I get around the obstacles that separate human beings. I go beyond them to think of us as a human family. Using basic, core human values, we can take any issue and create cross-cultural campaigns to tackle those issues and save or improve the lives of people”, says Kharas.
In a nutshell, Firdaus Kharas’ work saves lives.
…fantastic work done by producer Firdaus Kharas... to save lives around the world
Discover a man determined to make the world a better place...
…Firdaus Kharas used talking condoms to shift global attitudes about HIV/AIDS and saved millions of lives in the process
Eminent Canadian producer...
...he has positively influenced millions of lives
A celebration of culture and an innovative exploration of the animated medium
...one of the richest veins of culture...
A very powerful tool in communicating to people...
...a case where translation has been effectively deployed for the purposes of global social activism, and where this globalized aspect plays a more positive role than usual
For over 25 years Firdaus Kharas has been committed to improving the skills of media professionals around the world sharing his expertise, pro bono, via workshops, seminars and multi-month courses, particularly in Asia and Africa. Kharas’ commitment to sharing his vision and methodology also includes meeting with students, lecturing on mass communication, and speaking at festivals of film and television.
Kharas’ humanitarian work in countries other than his own includes organizing and leading a multi-faceted program in South Africa to train South Africans in producing, writing and animating. This capacity-building training aims to create a vibrant long-form animation industry capable of world-class story-telling.
Human Rights: Universal rights, children's rights, rights of children with Type 1 diabetes, gender-based rights
Health: Ebola containment and prevention, HIV/AIDS, malaria, polio eradication, clean energy, diabetes, dementia, Vitamin A deficiency, immunizations, asbestos, migraines, obesity in children, stigma against Ebola survivors, Zika prevention
Environment: Conservation, kindness to animals, interaction with nature, climate change, water management, solar power, sustainable energy for all
Universal Values: Anti-racism, gender equality, honesty, anti-bullying, cultural tolerance, attitudes towards victims of rape
Culture: Preservation of culture, especially in Africa, the Middle East and Asia
Education: Early childhood and middle children’s education, street children, children at risk, training in mass communications, literacy promotion
Maternal health: Pregnancy, infant mortality and health
Governance: Universal values, human rights, children's rights; rights of children with diabetes
Migration: Refugees, child refugees, refugee systems, displaced persons, asylum determination, causes of refugees, refugee camps
Violence: Violence against children, rape within families and conflict situations, various forms of sexual abuse, using culture as a justification for violence, perceived right to commit violence within families, gender-related violence, attitudes towards rape victims
Crisis Communications: Cyber-security
Firdaus Kharas began creating media in 1995, founding Chocolate Moose Media, a hybrid social enterprise making for-profit television series and not-for-profit media campaigns. He also established television production companies in Canada and in Asia including partnerships with the Royal Family of Malaysia, the News Corporation and UTV of India.
TTo date Kharas has created, directed and produced over 4,000 animated behavior change communications shorts. The animations have been seen by 198 countries, adapted into 355 language versions, reaching more than a billion people in their own language. Wishing only to positively influence viewers, Kharas distributes his campaigns free of charge to any requester located anywhere in the world. “I’m just trying to make a small contribution”, said Kharas to the Globe and Mail.
Kharas’ firsts in long-form television include the:
He has been profiled over 500 times by the world’s press, from The New Yorker, Reader's Digest, MacLean's and The Atlantic magazines to Rush Limbaugh’s radio show and dozens of other media around the world in several languages. His methods, particularly his methodology of linguistic adaptation and ability to create mass communication across cultural boundaries have regularly been the subject of academic study by students. Kharas and his work are noted in many books and publications and his work is in the permanent collection of several museums including the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest.
Firdaus Kharas has been internationally recognized more than 100 times for his humanitarian efforts. A sample of the honors he has received includes:
A man whose work has been described as "ground breaking" (Africa Film & TV), "remarkably cross-cultural" (The Globe and Mail), and "one of the richest veins of culture" (The New York Times), Kharas is the subject of a television documentary, Firdaus Kharas: the Animated Activist (Chispa Productions).
Kharas' work has been strongly and publicly supported by Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Of Kharas and his work, Archbishop Tutu has said “We need efforts like yours... a powerful communicating tool to encourage people to change their behavior... an outstanding contribution...".
Kharas has produced several documentaries related to human rights, in particular on children's rights. He has also completed two behavior change films related to dementia and a documentary on a child refugee claimant.
Firdaus Kharas is a renowned global speaker. Speaking engagements include:
Firdaus Kharas regularly sits on international juries for academies and festivals, including:
...his innovative work...(in) public health and children's rights in a global context
Empathy, ambition, compassion, intelligence and determination are all traits the renowned social innovator and humanitarian, Firdaus Kharas, possesses
...a worldwide expert on behavior change communications
Kharas and his team are connecting important messages with mass audiences
...one of the world's top animation producers
...Kharas’ work justly fills the void where before... there was a lack of effective strategy
Fully animated, with their memorable casts of animated characters and polyglot audio dubs... his public service announcements are designed for mass appeal. Enduring protagonists deliver clear messages, usually through a series of comic encounters.
I have to admit I was pretty skeptical that issues such as rape and verbal abuse could be turned into 30-second humor clips, but I think what Mr. Kharas has done is remarkable: he has found tasteful and informative ways to make people laugh and teach them something at the same time.
...deceptively lighthearted and extremely effective attack on a deadly world epidemic...
We consider Firdaus Kharas to be the modern equivalent of Dr. Seuss
We did some pre-testing… and we found that the animation form… is really engaging adults into the actual message. It’s unique, it’s innovative, it’s exciting, it has an element of surprise. It’s very well produced, concise and simple and has all the elements of effective communications.
Firdaus Kharas has completed several media campaigns to bring to the world’s attention some tough global issues
Firdaus Kharas is a world-renowned director and producer of animation, documentaries, television series and films.
We need efforts like yours... a powerful communicating tool to encourage people to change their behaviour... an outstanding contribution...
Firdaus Kharas has been instrumental in strengthening the media industries in Holland, India, Malaysia, Singapore and South Africa, by creating original television series in each of those countries and by training thousands of media professionals on his projects. Kharas has conducted in-country research for his humanitarian projects including talking to hundreds of mass rape victims, children's rights activists, torture survivors, and doctors in small villages coping with epidemics. He has visited animation studios in Asia, war zones in Central America, refugee camps in South-East Asia, and medical facilities, NGOs, and youth centers in Europe, Africa and Asia.
Kharas’ campaigns can be found in multiple languages on the internet, including on the UN's YouTube Channel. He has also appeared on television shows and radio programs in every continent.
A member of several high level Canadian trade missions, Kharas has discussed broadcasting and content policies with foreign government Ministers and senior officials from around the world. Kharas was instrumental in impetus for film and television co-production treaties between Canada and South Africa, Singapore and India.
In addition to honorary doctorates, Firdaus Kharas has earned nine degrees and certificates from eight educational institutions including:
Firdaus Kharas was born in Calcutta, India during its most turbulent period of social upheaval. He was first introduced to progressive causes by his mother who taught him the realities of disenfranchised people and at the age of eight was taken to Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying. Kharas’ love for creative content began as a young boy when he started writing plays and acting in school productions. Not only a creative but also an intellectual, at age 17 he was the first recipient of the Rotary Club of Bombay’s international exchange-student scholarship.
Firdaus Kharas has been a Canadian citizen for over 40 years.
Prior to his present work in media content, Firdaus Kharas was Executive Director of the United Nations Association in Canada where, for his work he was awarded a United Nations Peace Medal by then UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar. His focus then turned to refugees and he served as policy adviser to the Honourable Barbara McDougall, Canada’s Minister of Employment and Immigration, before being appointed Assistant Deputy Chairman of the Immigration and Refugee Board, where his mandate was the help clear up the backlog of more than 121,000 refugee claimants from 115 countries. In 1995 his desire to impact social problems drew him into the private sector, into media.
Kharas has published over twenty widely-distributed papers and articles on international issues such as using mass communications, disarmament, development, international finance, and strengthening the UN system. He has also consulted to global corporations and the governments of developing countries such as Togo, and wrote a widely-used manual on Canadian immigration.
...one of the world's top animation producers
...unique and inspiring individual...
Known for his long track record and remarkable experience in educational animation content production...
...a new campaign by ... Kharas could reinvent the do-gooder paradigm. Kharas has understood the theory of culture shift for a long time.
Firdaus Kharas, an outstanding television and animation producer...
...the internationally renowned Firdaus Kharas of Canada
...Globally renowned Canadian producer Firdaus Kharas.
Firdaus Kharas used talking condoms to shift global attitudes about HIV/AIDS and saved millions of lives in the process
I know you will join me... to recognize an amazing Canadian who makes us all proud of the great difference he is making in the lives of people all over the world