Teachers Visit a Bridge Everyday to Create a Classroom for Children of Migrant Workers Stuck in India’s Lockdown

For months during the pandemic, the people of India woke up to news regarding the plight of migrant laborers.

Stranded on their way home due to stringent lockdown restrictions and the lack of basic amenities brought us harrowing tales of human suffering.

However, the news also spurred heroes into action.

Under the bridge in the coastal state of Kerala, a heartening sight awaits those who are passing by in Kochi.

Underneath the Bolgatty-Vallarpadam bridge, teachers can be found engrossed with students of all ages, deep in study.

Ten children of migrant laborers had been living under the bridge with their families. Now that temporary ‘home’ is doubling up as a classroom, thanks to the dedicated teachers of St. John Bosco’s UP School.

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When the government ordered schools to close, and classes began commencing online, the teachers realized that some children had no means to attend online classes, and would likely discontinue their education if the situation persisted.

Armed with laptops and drawing sets, three teachers—Shamiya Baby, Neema Thomas and Susan Mable—and the school headmistress Elizabeth Fernandez, came to the rescue. Since the beginning of June, when online classes officially began, these teachers have been downloading classes on their laptops and heading over to the bridge to teach the children.

‘They also carry masks, biscuits and sweets for the young kids every day,” reports Mathrubhumi News.

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As technology seeps into the education sector, stories like this serve to underscore the undeniable value of human teachers—and their selfless kindness… Priceless.

We applaud our health workers and doctors, but let us also spare a thought for society’s teachers who help keep the lamp of hope brightly lit within the minds and hearts of its youngest citizens.

– Edited from an original article submitted by Gayathry Rajeev in India 

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In Show of Solidarity, Morocco Sends 8 Million Masks to 15 African Nations

King Mohammed VI of Morocco has sent 8 million masks and millions of other pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) to 15 different African nations.

Including almost one million facial visors, 600,000 plastic hair caps, and 60,000 gowns, the aid will be distributed between Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Comoros, Congo, Eswatini, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Malawi, Mauritania, Niger, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, Tanzania, Chad and Zambia, according to a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

COVID-19 has been slow to arrive in Africa, but as many European and Asian countries are beginning to reopen, the pandemic is on the move in many countries on the continent.

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Having seen successful examples of beating COVID-19 in countries like South Korea, Germany, and New Zealand, Morocco and other African nations already have case examples and best-practices to base defense strategies on—and it’s this that Morocco hopes to encourage and support in other nations.

It also came just days after Morocco showed its desire to construct the headquarters of the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the country under the auspices of the African Union.

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Registering its first case on March 2nd, Morocco has seen only 200 deaths and around 9,000 infections.

Along with making masks compulsory in public, Morocco has painted masks onto the fronts of their train cars and buses as a cute way to raise awareness.

WATCH the video from Africa News… (King of Morocco photo by MehdiBitw98, CC license)

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Startup in Uganda Recycles Plastic Bottles into PPE Face Shields For Hospitals

Killing two birds with one stone, two Ugandan entrepreneurs working to up-cycle plastic waste into building materials have altered their production to tackle the shortages of personal protective medical equipment (PPE) in hospitals dealing with the country’s COVID-19 patients.

After the government ordered all non-essential businesses closed, Peter Okwoko and his colleague Paige Balcom, co-founders of Takataka Plastics, continued working in their plastics processing facility.

But, instead of things like roof tiles, they began recycling plastic waste into face shields for medical workers.

After posting an image of their prototype on social media, the pair got a surprising call from a regional hospital asking for 10 face shields because they didn’t have enough.

Using locally-sourced moulds for molten plastic, the two finished the order and delivered them, before getting a call later in the afternoon from the very same hospital asking for more because “the first ones worked out so well for them,” Okwoko, 29, told Reuters.

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PPE and Plastic Recycling

PPE shortages have occurred world-wide, and Ugandan hospitals are are no exception, but Takataka Plastics has, so far, made 1,200 face shields. Even more inspiring, the company’s staff of 14, includes six employees who were homeless, jobless youth.

Around 500 of the shields have been sold to NGOs and privately-managed health facilities at a low cost and the other 700 were donated to public hospitals.

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Takataka hopes to build upon the success of the face shields and expand its operations into a more appropriate plastic processing and recycling facility. Currently their location can reduce around 132 pounds (60 kgs) of plastic per-day, but they are aiming to establish a monthly capacity of 9 metric tons.

Uganda sees hundreds of tons of plastic thrown away annually, and their innovative solution to the PPE crisis has pushed these entrepreneurs to dream bigger.

Need more positive stories and updates coming out of the COVID-19 challenge? For more uplifting coverage, click here.

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Principal Rallies His Community to Serve 10,000 Cooked Meals to Seniors During 40 Days of COVID Crisis in India

A union territory in India with lovely beaches and serene streets is one of the most attractive weekend destinations for busy folks in Southern India. While normally offering a mélange of culture and heritage, Puducherry’s currently-deserted beaches are sufficient to indicate the magnitude of the COVID-19 crisis here.

But, one man has taken to heart the idea that ‘a crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things we could not do before.’

“This phrase has proved absolutely true for me,” said Sasi Kanta Dash, PhD, who has recently completed 40 days of food distribution to the elderly.

Principal of Tagore Government Arts and Science College in Pondicherry, he has been serving hot meals to those confined in their homes during the local lockdowns which started in March.

“It had been my dream to give back to society and the nation. My soul guided me to take the first step. I took the initiative of channelizing the positive energy of the local people and started with feeding 250 people on day one,” Dash told GNN.

“We didn’t know the extent of the lockdown when it was announced for the first time on March 24th,” Dr. Dash continued. “But the immense satisfaction at the end of the first day catalyzed the actions for the future.”

A volunteer visits with food and supplies

Starting with a WhatsApp group of senior citizens who were unable to visit a pharmacy for medicine due to closures in public transit, Dash began to deliver prescriptions to those self-quarantining.

For about 15 days after that he took to bringing families packets of essential cooking supplies like rice, sugar, salt, oil, assorted vegetables and dal (a dish of lentils and beans).

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Gradually the word spread and a few local organizations came forward to support the efforts. A helpline number was set up to receive the calls requesting help.

Along with elderly and daily-wage earners who are unable to eat if they don’t work, Dr. Dash’s charitable mind turned also to the “section of our population dependent on the alms offered by places of worship and other commercial and public places,” after which his operation expanded to those villagers within a 10 kilometer radius of the beach town.

The kitchen in his campus of Tagore Government Arts and Science College is one of the kitchens being used to cook food for people, and his team currently provides groceries for 600-700 families, as well as catering for 250 people of 14-15 different villages.

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“Today, June 3rd, we have entered the 40th day of food distribution and more than 10,000 meals have been served. The food is prepared under the supervision of volunteers to ensure quality, hygiene and nutrition content, and we have a group of 20 volunteers who have come forward to extend their support.”

Dash family photos

An advocate of a clean and green economy and environment, Dr. Dash also works as an organizer and member of numerous planting and cleaning drives in Puducherry.

For readers familiar with Indian cuisine, Dash’s delivery and catering are certainly fortunate in that they get to enjoy dishes like mushroom pulav, egg biryani, karakkuzhambu, groundnut rice, veg pulav & biryani, laddu, and bananas.

THIS Man’s Generosity Can Feed the World (With Inspiration)—SHARE on Social Media…

Need more positive stories and updates coming out of the COVID-19 challenge? For more uplifting coverage, click here.

Employer Welcomes Back 14 Workers With Surprise $1,000 Bonuses – to Spend on Local Businesses

When New Zealanders were given the all-clear and Kiwis began returning to work after the Covid-19 lockdown, some employees were nervous about the state of businesses.

Jenny Beck, an attorney who runs a law office in Dunedin, had heard many small businesses were in dire straits because they depended on tourism—and she got an idea.

At the first staff meeting with everyone back from lockdown, “the mood was anxious,” according to the Otago Daily Times, New Zealand’s oldest daily newspaper.

But, instead of pink slips or salary cuts, the law firm owner gave each of her 14 employees $1000 in cash.

“I told them, and just about everyone cried—and I felt like crying myself,” she told reporter John Lewis.

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The shocked workers were also given a caveat regarding what they could do with the money—paying it forward.

Jenny gave them “stern words” to spend the cash on small businesses, suggesting they take a long weekend, paying for accommodation, food at local restaurants, and tourist attractions, to help get the local economies rolling again.

‘‘I also thought it would be fun, in that my staff would be able to report back on their breaks, and give everyone a boost.’’

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The office really got into the spirit, and began planning trips to a National Park, their favorite restaurants, and kayak rental places.

‘‘I’m really pleased that they’ve picked it up and run with it,” said Jenny. “It’s given a real boost to team morale.’’

WATCH the interviews below… (Video screen grab courtesy of Otago Daily Times)

Need more positive stories and updates coming out of the COVID-19 challenge? For more uplifting coverage, click here.

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Irish People Are Repaying Debt of Gratitude to Suffering Native Americans 170 Years After Potato Famine

A repayment of gratitude 170 years in the making has rekindled an affectionate bond linking the Great Irish Potato Famine of almost two centuries ago with a Native American tribe in Oklahoma suffering today from the coronavirus pandemic.

In 1847, when Ireland was experiencing years of starvation due to a potato blight, the North American Choctaw tribe joined a compassionate campaign in the U.S. to help these strangers an ocean away.

Despite their own suffering, having been forced to relocate hundreds of miles from their native land, the tribe pooled their pennies and raised $170 (almost $5,000 in today’s currency) to send to the Emerald Isle through a relief fund.

Returning the Kindness

Today, the Navajo and Hopi tribes have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Their high rate of infection is thought to be due to a lack of running water in one-third of all homes and shortage of groceries, forcing families to leave the reservation for supplies.

To finance a plan to provide bottled water and other supplies directly to the reservation, a GoFundMe campaign was set up by Navajo and Hopi families. Now, almost $2.7 million has been raised so far, with many donations flowing in from Irish citizens expressing gratitude for the help they received so many decades ago.

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“Ours is a debt that can never be repaid, but please consider this a small token of love and solidarity from your Irish brothers and sisters. Praying for the strength, wellbeing and prosperity of your community always” said Caroline Kelly, adding a Gaelic message of unity. “Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine.”

“When the Choctaw people had nothing, they gave Ireland all they could at a time when we needed it most. I know it’s not much, but I hope this helps our friends in their time of need,” added Ciaran Mc brearty.

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“Sending Irish blessings, hope, faith and love to our dear Native American brothers and sisters whose ancestors gave us hope in our time of need so many years ago, too,” wrote Aoife Galway. “Thank you agus sláinte, Aoife ☘❤”

Honoring the Choctaw

Three years ago, a soaring silver monument to honor the donations from Native Americans was unveiled in County Cork, Ireland—and Choctaw leaders were invited to the grand unveiling.

Asked about his inspiration to create the huge stainless steel sculpture of nine eagle feathers, the local artist Anex Penetek said, “I wanted to show the courage, fragility and humanity that they displayed.”

The financial support continues to pour in, hour by hour, along with messages of solidarity linking two cultures who uniquely know the meaning of widespread suffering—and the value of supporting one another through it.

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Chinese Company Ships Crates of Masks to Italy Covered in Italian Poetry: We Are ‘Leaves of the Same Tree’

A Chinese company has shipped crates containing tens of thousands of respirator masks to Italy in her time of need.

And it has done so with the artistic flair of a true Italian romantic.

Consumer technology giant Xiaomi mailed the shipment to the Italian Civil Protection Department, and they stapled to the side of the crates an ancient line of poetry from the Roman philosopher Seneca:

We are waves from the same sea, leaves from the same tree, and flowers from the same garden.

Siamo onde dello stesso mare, foglie dello stesso albero, fiori dello stesso giardino

The European country has had a terrible time of the pandemic, and Xiaomi International (pronounced Sheeow-mee) announced the donation on its Facebook page March 5, saying the company felt a responsibility to a market which had welcomed them so warmly when the smartphone maker expanded into Italy two years ago.

“Since we arrived two years ago, we have felt loved and deeply integrated into the life of the country. This is also why we felt the duty to support Italy in the management of the COVID-19 epidemic, by donating a first important quantity of FFP3 masks.”

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They also uploaded the photos showing the lovingly prepared crates in their post.

The company’s chief financial officer called it a “source of great pride” to be able to offer the help, and praised the Italian government’s “excellent job for the benefit of the whole community.”

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Medical shortages of masks, test kits, respirators, and other goods are one of the major reasons why a country might find it difficult to control an outbreak, and the quality of the FFP3 masks sent from Xiaomi are the most effective available.

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Guy Gives Up Christmas With Family So He Can Rally His Town to Feed 75 Stranded Travelers

Some bad weather turned into the “best Christmas Day ever” for one Canadian who chose to give up hours of holiday fun with his family to help 75 stranded strangers.

High winds diverted a WestJet airline on Dec. 25, a flight intended for St. John’s, Newfoundland that only made it as far as Deer Lake on the other side of the island province—roughly 400 miles (600 km) from its destination.

Local resident Brian Snow was friends with one of the passengers and realized that due to the national holiday, all the restaurants and shops in town were closed.

On top of that, the hotel where almost 80 people had been dropped off had no restaurant. Mr. Snow, who happens to be the community services coordinator for the Salvation Army, posted a call to action on social media: “Let’s show the true Christmas spirit.”

Within an hour, the Facebook post was shared 60 times and the community had spontaneously organized a delightful potluck in the hotel lobby. Residents brought sandwiches, platters of their own turkey dinner leftovers, freshly baked breads, and, of course, lots of cookies and desserts.

“I, as well as my entire family are beyond thankful for the beautiful souls who helped make a Christmas away from home just that much better!” wrote Kate Sexton from St. John’s, with gratitude that her aunt and uncle were being cared for.

With their bellies full and their spirits renewed, the kindness from the Deer Lake community didn’t end at the dinner table.

Dave Power, one of the stranded passengers who was flying with his wife to be with family in St. John’s, told CBC News, “When we finished eating, they said as soon as you’re ready, let us know, and we’ll take you to the airport.”

They organized a motorcade to get everyone back to the airport for their delayed flight.

“It was truly like a ‘Come from Away Christmas’,” said David’s brother Robert Power on Facebook. “That’s what the season is all about.”

Power was referring to the Tony Award-winning musical Come From Away, which tells a similar true story of the small Newfoundland town named Gander where nearly 6,600 passengers were welcomed after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 grounded 38 planes there. The famous news story details the efforts of community members in Gander and surrounding towns who took care of the thousands of travelers in churches, schools, and community centers for several days.

The loving care displayed by Deer Lake residents left some passengers ”bawling.”

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