Home Happiness Positively Newsworthy: The Summer 2023 Edition

Positively Newsworthy: The Summer 2023 Edition

by Admin

Positively Newsworthy is an uplifting section of the magazine, devoted to highlighting positive happenings in the world. Enjoy the stories from our Summer 2023 issue below!

1 The Reward of a Lifetime

95-year-old woman wins Latin grammy

by Persephone Kianka

Growing up in Cuba, Angela Álvarez immersed herself in music. She composed her first song when she was 14, already proficient on piano and guitar, and loved to sing.

When she graduated from high school, she told her father that her only dream was to become a professional musician. However, he rejected this idea, telling her: “You sing for the family, but not for the world”, and because of her love for him, she listened.

When Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, Álvarez’s life was turned upside down. She became separated from her
children, who were forced to flee to the United States ahead of her, and when she finally got there, she found herself living in a small basement apartment and cleaning a bank to make ends meet.

Music was her way of overcoming all these challenges, resulting in a collection of about 50 songs “reflecting both the deep sadness and joy in her life.”

This music had only been enjoyed by her family and friends until her grandson Carlos José Alvarez decided to record her songs about nine years ago.

The 15-track album he produced, titled “Angela Alvarez”, was released in 2021, along with a documentary recounting Álvarez’s incredible life story. Delighted that her dream of becoming a professional musician had been realised, she performed her first public concert on her 91st birthday.

Little did she know, an even more remarkable achievement was in store. In September 2022, it was announced that
Álvarez had received the Latin Grammy nomination for Best New Artist, making her the oldest person to be nominated and to win in that category.

The 95-year-old said she hopes her story teaches people to “never say, ‘I can’t do it.’ You can do it. Always try.”

2 Future Paralympians

Irish twins bring home sports victory

by Persephone Kianka

Last summer, Cork twins Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf celebrated sporting success in England, bringing back an impressive victory for their county and themselves.

Born conjoined in December 2009, the Benhaffaf brothers received global attention in April 2010 when they were separated after a 14-hour operation with a team of 20 medical staff.

The surgery left the boys with only a leg each but has allowed them to live independently and pursue their dreams of athletics.

In July 2022, Hassan and Hussein participated in the Disabled Sports England Junior Championships in Coventry, their first-ever athletics game outside of Ireland. At the end of the weekend, the twins brought home six medals and set new personal bests, a testament to all their hard work and determination.

Rebel Wheelers, a Cork charity group that empowers people with physical disabilities through sports, took to social media to celebrate the brothers, calling their win a “Monday Motivation mood.”

The boys have expressed their ambition to become Irish Paralympians in the past, and this great success shows they are well on their way to achieving their goals.

Speaking to CorkBeo, the twins’ mother, Angie, described the weekend as “emotional but beautiful” as their victory coincided with the date she learned they were conjoined.

She shared that while her sons are currently excelling in javelin, shot put, and discus, they are determined to get into track racing: “It will be a great challenge but they can do it, they are focused, and serious about it.”

Evidently, the extreme challenges Hassan and Hussein have faced, and continue to face, only make them more determined, which is indeed motivation for anyone pursuing their dream.

3 The Wonderful WasteShark

“Robot shark” cleans pollution in the River Thames

by Persephone Kianka

Every year, around 8 million tonnes of plastic infiltrate our oceans, much coming from cities through rivers. Though a lot has been done to reduce single-use plastics in Canary Wharf, a thriving financial district on London’s River Thames, it’s impossible to stop coffee cups and lunch wrappers from ending up in the water.

Fortunately, the WasteShark, a plastic-eating robot which was deployed in the area in March of this year, is well-equipped to tackle the issue. Unlike most boats that go out to clean, this “robot shark” is entirely electric and produces no carbon, noise or light pollution as it travels, meaning it isn’t a threat to wildlife.

As Richard Hardiman, CEO and founder of WasteShark’s makers RanMarine, explained, “Ducks and swans swim away
from it. We’re not fast enough to catch fish. So it really is a low-impact solution to remove pollution out of the water.”

Impressively, the WasteShark’s daily feed is about 500kg of debris, equivalent to engulfing approximately 21,000 plastic bottles. When it returns to shore, this waste is sorted and recycled or disposed of responsibly.

These autonomous machines also collect water samples while travelling, sending back information on “turbidity, salinity, temperature, pH balance and depth of the water”.

“We’re collecting water quality data from all around the world and aggregating that [so we can see] what it looked like last week, last year. Is the water getting cleaner? Is it changing? Is there a potential algae bloom?” revealed Richard.

“It’s kind of our dream to deploy these things around the world to clean up while we’re asleep, make a difference and hopefully make an impact on our environment.”


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