The past year has been rough for all of us. The pandemic is still striking hot for some countries, cases are rising every day and lives are taken every minute. But in moments like this, sometimes, all it takes is just one simple act of kindness, one simple initiative to brighten up someone’s day.
1. Migrant rescues a man trapped in a burning house
Denia, a town on Spain’s Costa Blanca was in awe when they saw a young man climb up a wall and into a blazing house to save a near-disabled man trapped inside. With the fire not showing any signs of calming down, the unknown rescuer came out with Alex Caudeli, 39 years old, over his shoulder.
The mystery hero was then identified to be Gorgui Lamine Sow, a Senegalese street seller. Sow revealed he was an illegal immigrant who arrived two years previously when he was 17, from Africa.
“I didn’t think—I just climbed up to get him,” Sow revealed.”It’s true that I am poor,” he says, “but I have a heart that wants to help people—and I knew I could save him.”
A forever grateful Caudeli was released from the hospital after being treated for burns and smoke inhalation. Sow was hailed as a hero with the humble words of, “I just did what any good human would do.”
2. The power of social media
A.S Roma, a top Italian football club with a massive social media following, used its extensive platform to highlight missing children, with hopes that the huge social engagement can help these children home.
Clubs in Italy have an ongoing challenge as to who has the most creative output in announcing new player signings and the three-time Italian champions have gained quite a reputation for their quirky ways.
Now, their new player signings are announced alongside the same of a missing child, including their information, a phone number, and a video clip.
Since June 2019, six children who were featured have been found in Great Britain, Belgium, and Kenya.
“I don’t think any of us expected a child we’d featured in a video to return home safely,” says Paul Rogers, A.S. Roma’s chief strategy officer. “Obviously we prayed it would happen, but we didn’t expect it.” The club is now trying to convince other big names in European football to follow its lead.
3. Sending help to Russia’s rural schools
Graduates from a top-tier Russian university are offering helping hands to address the poor education in their country’s rural villages.
The program “Teacher for Russia” was started by two St. Petersburg graduates. The program sends graduates on a two-year teaching assignment.
Co-founder Alena Makovich says that the idea of the program is for the teachers to “make a contribution to society and develop personal skills, while inspiring pupils to widen their horizons. “One of our objectives is to ‘rebrand’ this profession so it is perceived as prestigious,” she says.
Every year, about 2,000 graduates apply for the program. Those selected get to experience what an eye-opener it is, especially when faced with outdated teaching methods.
Yulia Ignatyeva, 25, a law graduated from Moscow observes: “We are trying to improve a lot of things.”
4. Swimmer’s Mission: Expose Plastic Threat
Benoit Lecomte, a long-distance swimmer, swam 555 kilometers through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch over the period of three months on a mission. And that is to address the issue of plastic and humanity’s dangerous consumption of it.
Lecomte, 52, sailed from Honolulu to San Francisco and swam through 79,000-ton of trash he described as “an underwater smog of microplastic.”
The Frenchmen would spend 8 hours a day in the water, finding almost everything in the water, from abandoned fishing nets to oil toilet seats.
His crew collected microplastic samples and placed GPS tags on the floating waste. This is so that researchers can understand and examine how plastics move through the ocean.
“All the plastic I saw didn’t surprise me,” Lecomte said afterwards. “I was expecting it to be pretty bad. But after seeing it, day after day, I became numb to it—and my numbness surprised me.”
5. Instagram’s lifeguard
Just like a regular human being, Ingebjørg Blindheim uses Instagram all the time. However, for an entirely different reason.
Blindheim monitors the corners of the social media platform where distressed young people meet and post about their disturbed feelings, including discussion on self-harm and even suicide.
She currently monitors around 450 private Instagram accounts and when she feels someone may be close to taking away their life, the 22-year-old Norwegian alerts emergency services.
She didn’t underwent formal training and her action is inspired by a suicide of a friend she met while being treated for her mental health.
“I’m not just going to watch someone saying they’re going to kill themselves and ignore it and hope for the best,” says Blindheim, who has earned the nickname “the lifeguard” for her unpaid work.
6. Enable the disabled
There are a number of projects across Europe that empower disabled people but the Andalucian city of Jerez is the first for the fine dining industry. All of its 20 employees at the Universo Santi restaurant have some form of disability.
The president of the charity Fondación Universo Accesible and the driving force behind the restaurant, says, “I always wanted to show what people with disabilities, given the right training, were capable of. They weren’t represented in the world of haute cuisine.”
The restaurant has gained the support of some of Spain’s leading chefs, who have lent their skills and contributed recipes.
One of the staff is commis chef Alejandro Giménez, 23, and has Down’s syndrome.
“Working here has transformed my life,” says Giménez. “It’s given me the chance to become independent doing something I’ve loved since I was a kid.”