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    Somehow she’s still smiling

    January 21st, 2011

    This photo featured in Bobby’s book, The Power of the Invisible Sun, is of a girl in an internally displaced persons camp in Pakistan. “Somehow she’s still smiling” said Bobby.

    Ball of Hope

    January 12th, 2011

    Los Angeles kids got together with soccer players to celebrate the Bobby’s book, Power of the Invisible Sun @ Fred Segal this past Thurs. When you buy a book we give an indestructible HOPE ball to kids in need. Thanks to all who came out!

    If you’re in the Los Angeles area we’ll see you tonight, 6-9pm at Fred Segal in Santa Monica!

    Bobby and Sting at the launch of his book about thankfulness and hope, The Power of the Invisible Sun, which features photos of children in need all over the world taken by Bobby. Photos from the book were screened during the Police Reunion tour as they played the song with the same name.

    Hope is Happening

    November 12th, 2010

    Video is on Facebook: Check it Out

    Originally posted at the London Evening Standard

    Sting and Trudie Styler last night hosted a party at the Saatchi Gallery, for their friend, photographer and philanthropist Bobby Sager.

    Support: Bobby Sager with Annie Lennox

    Sager has written a book, The Power of the Invisible Sun, documenting his travels in war torn areas, the proceeds of which finance indestructible yellow footballs for needy children all over the world.

    Special guests: Jemimia Khan with Bella Freud

    “He wanted to go into the Amazon and I have contacts there,” said Sting of his pal. “I thought he’d never come out of there.” Guests included Jemima Khan, Val Kilmer, Alan Yentob and Mike Figgis.

    NEW YORK — Sting is sitting in the lotus position on a plush white couch in his bright Central Park West apartment, talking about how a soccer ball might change a poor child’s life.

    “Instant, instant joy!” says the singer and activist.

    And so he has co-founded a nonprofit group that is sending soccer balls to children in some of the most troubled places on Earth. Indestructible soccer balls.

    “These kids have got nothing,” Sting notes as a uniformed servant hovers in his doorway with a silver tray. Sting says that very poor children sometimes fashion their own soccer balls out of crumpled plastic bags tied together with twine.

    The kids live in rough places — Rwanda, Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories. They might end up kicking a soccer ball around garbage and glass. That’s where the indestructible part comes in.

    Sting funded research and development to create a strong, long-lasting ball that had the “same weight and consistency and feel” as a soccer ball. It took a year. But here it is, about $8 to produce, to be replicated by the thousands, bright yellow and printed with the words: “HOPE Is a Game-Changer”

    “Most soccer balls are inflated, they’re plastic, or traditionally leather, but they break, they get deflated, and they get punctured, and it’s useless,” Sting says. This ball is different. “It’s made of foam, it’s solid.”

    “It kicks like a soccer ball,” he adds. “I’ve kicked it, I’ve headed it, but I haven’t scored a goal with it yet.”
    Sting played soccer as a child in northern England, and later with his own children, and he still roots for Newcastle United.

    His partner in the project is traveling philanthropist Bobby Sager, who befriended Sting at a hotel bar on the Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro.

    Sager assembled a book of photographs he took of refugee and war-impacted children, and is putting the proceeds toward the indestructible balls.

    The pop star, who has supported various environmental causes, acknowledges that in the world's poorest places, children also need food and medicine.

    But soccer balls matter, too, he said. The game can develop a sense of cooperation, leadership -- and fun.

    "Play is important," he says. "As important as anything else, really."

    Originally Posted at The Washington Post

    Ten years ago I stopped working as an entrepreneur to devote myself to philanthropy full-time. It wasn’t about redemption. It was about fullness. I took my children Tess and Shane, then 10 and 7, out of school and along with my wife Elaine ventured out into some of the world’s most difficult places.

    I met the children featured in the The Power of the Invisible Sun during those travels. I photographed them from just weeks after September 11, 2001 until 2009. 2009-10-28-bwseventeensager.jpgThey lived in alleyways, refugee camps, slums, and remote villages from Afghanistan to Rwanda to Nepal. They were refugees, orphans, child soldiers, and just plain kids dealing with war, conflict, natural disaster, abuse, and displacement. I came face-to-face with them because I was there to help, and that’s a big part of the connection you see in their eyes.

    I chose to only use the images of children because it is through the strength and possibilities you see in their young eyes that the power of the invisible sun can become so compelling. I wanted you to see what I see. Feel what I feel. Have your hearts opened up in new ways.

    More than anything this book is about hope. Giving someone hope can sound cliché, it can sound sweet, but hope is the most important thing that people need to move forward. It’s not cuddly. It’s strategic.

    2009-10-28-bwsixteensager.jpgAt the end of the book I ask the question NOW WHAT? It’s my hope that by the time you reach that point, you’ll be compelled to answer it. To do something. Anything. Because that’s the point. I don’t want you to feel sorry for them or want to give them a hug. Just the opposite. I want you to take strength from their strength, feel more thankful in your own life, and go find ways to help. To give hope. Not just by giving money, but by giving something of yourself.

    I don’t have any special way to do this and I’m not saying my approach is the best. But I do know that this is not a spectator sport. I do know that everyone has to connect their own dots. I hope the experience of this book, in some small way, helps you to connect yours.


    Originally posted at The Huffington Post

    Teddy Rist is not Bobby Sager.

    Rist, the main character of NBC’s new drama “The Philanthropist,’’ is a fictional British womanizer, estranged from his wife, coping with the death of his young son. Sager is a real-life Malden native with a thick Boston accent who has traveled through the developing world with his wife and two kids.

    But the two men share both untold wealth and a philosophy of giving as adventurous as it is telegenic: Don’t write a check. Go someplace and do the giving yourself, “eyeball to eyeball,’’ as Sager likes to say.

    In 'The Philanthropist,' James Purefoy portrays a wealthy man who travels the developing world to be 'eyeball to eyeball' with his beneficiaries.

    It’s something that Sager, the real-life inspiration for the show, which premieres tonight at 10, has been doing for years. His roots are still in Boston; he bought the parquet floor from the old Boston Garden at an auction nearly a decade ago. But when he’s not at his sprawling apartment on the Common, he’s roaming the world with the charity he calls the Sager Family Traveling Foundation and Roadshow.

    Over the last decade, he has financed a series of ambitious projects, from outfitting Tibetan monks with modern technology, to training female doctors in Afghanistan, to giving women in Rwanda – widows of genocide victims and perpetrators – a series of microloans.

    Sager made his fortune as president and partner of Gordon Brothers, a Boston liquidator. But creators of the TV series came to know him as a result of his longtime friendship with Sting, the frontman of rock band The Police and an environmental activist.

    Photographs from Sager’s travels were on display during the Police reunion tour. They will also be featured in his upcoming book, “The Power of the Invisible Sun,’’ in which he shares his philosophy, sounding like a mix of corporate chief executive and New Age guru.

    “I go around the world and I put myself in difficult and sometimes dangerous situations because I’m selfish,’’ Sager says. “I’m not doing it to give back to society and I’m not doing it because I’m supposed to, but I’m doing it because it fulfills something in me.’’

    Like Teddy Rist – whose fictional business buys and sells natural resources – Sager runs his global charity like a capitalist, believing that an entrepreneurial spirit, mixed with the power of the Rolodex, can get things done that a government can’t.

    It’s an unconventional notion and a fine tale for television, said Tom Fontana, the veteran producer who developed and runs the show.

    “The idea that you can take capitalism – which, being an old hippie stoogeball, I’ve always thought to be the enemy of change – and have that be the element that causes the change is just, to me it’s a revolutionary idea,’’ Fontana says.

    Through Sting’s wife, Trudie Styler, Sager became an executive producer of the 2006 film “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints.’’ On the set, he met another producer, Charlie Corwin, who had a development deal with NBC.

    Corwin thought Sager’s life could be the basis of a series, and brought his idea to Fontana, the former executive producer of “Oz’’ and “Homicide: Life on the Street.’’

    NBC Entertainment copresident Ben Silverman, meanwhile, had gone with Sager and Corwin to a Police show in Las Vegas. So when Corwin pitched the show to NBC a few week’s later, he recalls, Silverman knew it was based on Sager before Corwin had a chance to utter the name.

    Silverman gave the go-ahead to the show based on the pilot script alone, ordering 13 episodes. Each episode, Fontana says, will follow Rist on a mission to another place, from Burma to Nigeria to Paris to San Diego.

    Sager serves as a consulting producer, and has traveled with Corwin to Africa and Israel for research. The producers acknowledge that Sager found Rist’s many flaws to be unsettling. But they say they had to create a character troubled enough to anchor a television show, and to grow.

    “We wanted him to have a hole in his soul that he needed to fill, and that philanthropy became the thing that he found that could fill it,’’ Corwin says. “At first he’s not very good at it . . . his approach is a little clumsy, or it’s a beginner’s approach. He’s going to throw money at things.’’

    As the series goes on, Corwin says, Rist will learn that “he can’t solve these problems with his currency. He has to actually become the currency himself.’’

    “That’s why I agreed to be involved,’’ Sager says. “The possibility that . . . it would stimulate [viewers’] thinking in how to make a difference, and maybe even stimulate their doing.’’

    Actor James Purefoy – perhaps best known as Marc Antony in HBO’s “Rome’’ – plays Rist with a wink and an occasional pout. He’s a bad boy just learning what it feels like to be good.

    Still, there are moments when he seems more specifically Sager. In tonight’s episode, working to bring a cholera vaccine to a Nigerian village, Rist says he’s going to help people “eyeball to eyeball.’’

    Purefoy inserted the words on the set, Fontana says. “He had just met Bobby, so he was completely converted.’’

    Correction: Because of a reporting error, a story in the Business section on June 24 about philanthropist Bobby Sager and the NBC series “The Philanthropist’’ misstated the title of Sager’s upcoming book. It is “The Power of the Invisible Sun.’’

    Originally Post at