Good News from around the World
What’s That, Kelsey?
Bob and Kelsey have always been the best of friends, but now Bob owes Kelsey his very life. It all started when the 64-year-old Bob went out into the Wisconsin winter and sub-zero temperatures to collect firewood. Bob and Kelsey lived in a rural area and their nearest neighbour was half a kilometre away. Thinking he was only going to be out momentarily, Bob wasn’t wearing a coat or proper shoes when he slipped and broke his neck. It was -4°C outside. When Kelsey heard Bob’s screams she ran out to try to help him. Unfortunately, Kelsey couldn’t call the emergency services as she’s a Golden Retriever. Fortunately however, she is one of the smartest, most loyal and compassionate Golden Retrievers on the planet. She lay on top of him through the night and all the next day until her barks led people to the place where she and Bob were lying and they airlifted Bob to the hospital. The doctors were amazed that Bob had survived for so long in sub-zero temperatures. Although his neck was broken and his legs were paralysed from the initial fall, he suffered no frostbite whatsoever. The doctors were convinced that this was solely thanks to the heat Kelsey provided by lying on top of him through the whole night and right up until he was discovered at 6.30pm the following day, twenty hours after Bob had his accident. Without Kelsey’s loyalty and intelligence, the doctors are convinced Bob would not have survived the night. Bob and Kelsey were reunited in the hospital and it was an emotional moment as Kelsey licked his face and Bob was moved to tears of gratitude. Bob is one man who knows for sure that his dog is truly his best friend.
Paying it Forward, with Pizza
A fire broke out in the hills in northern Genoa. Motorists were trapped in gridlock on their way home from work as the fire services blocked the road to battle the blaze. When pizzeria owner, Simone Di Maria, heard of the traffic jam, he felt the poor motorists must be famished stuck in their cars after their long days at work and decided to be part of the solution. Di Maria handed out free pizzas to the commuters who couldn’t believe the kindness of the gesture. One grateful motorist described it as a ‘Godsend’ having spent hours waiting for the road to be reopened. The pizzeria owner was quick to point out that the firefighters were the real heroes of the hour. He explained that the flames of previous fires had come to within 100 metres of his home and would have burned his house down had the brave emergency services not done their job with such courage. The Facebook account of the pizzeria has been swamped with praise from all those who have heard of his actions. People were moved to hear that such kindness was still alive and well in 21st Century Italy. One post called on the mayor to make a special commendation of Di Maria’s actions. It just shows that in difficult times, good deeds like this have the potential to make a really big impact, not just on those who benefit directly from them, but even on those have their spirits lifted just hearing that they happened.
A Good Yarn
Ireland has always been internationally respected for winning gold in the generosity stakes when it comes to charity work overseas. It’s a source of much pride to those of us living here. The Chernobyl disaster is one which the Irish people have consistently addressed through amazing work from a range of community organisations and NGO’s. The ‘Inis Oírr for Belarus’ project came about when the local public health nurse on the island, Bairbre Uí Chualáin, heard tell of the work Brother Liam O’Meara was doing with the ‘Burren for Belarus’ initiative and decided that the people in her community could play their part too. When she approached the islanders to see if they would be willing to knit aran scarves, sweaters, gloves, hats, blankets and socks for the orphans in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, she was met with enthusiasm. Over 90% of the islanders took part, from the pre-schoolers in the naíonra all the way up to the Comhar na nAosach (the association of seniors). Brother Liam made sure the knitted garments were delivered to the orphans for the freezing winter months where temperatures can reach -20°C. Bairbre Uí Chualáin and the inhabitants of the tiny island off the west coast of Ireland can be proud of the warmth that they have given to the orphans who are now wearing a little piece of Inis Oírr to keep them cosy.
The Little Things
By Gavin Ryan
Herself works in a job where she ushers in lives to the world and occasionally saves them too. I am always abashed at how important her job is relative to mine. I’m pretty sure that when things get serious and lives are on the line, it is unlikely you will hear the shout, ‘somebody fetch a writer.’ I sometimes get stressed around deadlines. I can feel as if I am in a room where the walls are closing in ready to crush me when they approach. It is always useful to take this up with my better half who has often spent thirteen hours on her feet working in situations where people are experiencing the greatest highs and lows of their lives. For those she meets, this will be one of the most emotionally charged days of their whole existence.
They will never be the same again. For her, it’s just another Monday. I think that many of us are unaware of the incredible work our health care professionals and emergency services do day in and day out. Some of us will hopefully never have the opportunity to realise how blessed we are to have these guardian angels on standby for the day we need them, but they are there. So if you know a nurse or midwife, doctor, firefighter, coastguard or anyone involved in putting themselves on the line to help strangers, let them know you appreciate it. Because we can’t say it too much.
We visited the township of Langa near Capetown International Airport on our honeymoon last year. Capetown is a truly spectacular city. We were staying in the salubrious area of Camps Bay surrounded by Maseratis and Porsche’s and incredible wealth. It seemed like we were in Hollywood. It was clear though that not all the inhabitants were living the celebrity dream. We were warned to be vigilant against crime and muggings and we could see that the economic divide was immense. We took trips out to Cape Horn and Cape Aghulas, the southernmost point of the African continent, where the Indian and the Atlantic Oceans meet. We saw all the breathtaking wildlife from lions and elephants mere feet away on a safari, to penguins in their natural habitats on a beach in Simonstown, just west of Capetown. The scenery was breathtaking, but it was hard to ignore that apartheid had merely ended politically and not economically. A tour guide at Robben Island, where Mandela was kept prisoner, told us that things were even worse now than ever.
Walking through Langa township, it seemed not too much different to parts of Dublin. Our guide told us, they called this part of the township, ‘Beverly Hills’, soon the houses gave way to lean-to shacks made from corrugated iron sheets where whole families lived on dirt floors. It was Guy Fawkes Day and the children were organising skirmishes against children from other parts of the townships. Everybody was outside in the sunshine. The kids swarmed us. I grabbed a boy of about four and swung him like a chairoplane as I would my own children. Soon I had a disorderly queue of kids wanting to be spun. I swung the kids until I got dizzy. Their parents laughed nearly as hard as the children did. I may not have been able to understand what they said to me in Xhosa, but their smiling faces said it all. I’m not sure if I will ever go back to South Africa, but I have taken a part of it with me.