Friday, April 21, 2017

Good News Round-up: Three Inspiring Stories about Survival

by Nomad

For those of us who were born to care about the world, it's easy to find more than enough depressing things to think about. More than we deserve to see, I think. No doubt, it would be a lot easier to stop worrying and turn our backs the whole damn thing.
Well, I have tried but for some reason, as soon as the fatigue wears off, I keep coming back.
Still, today, at least, we can take a break from the gloom.

Survivor Named Peace

If you ever land in Istanbul while on your world adventures, be sure to look up the Red Cat Publishing House. Besides a lot of books and kind-hearted staff, you are likely to find the cat named Baris, (pronounced Bar-ish). It means Peace in Turkish.

He happens to be a minor celebrity at the moment even in a city famous for its love of stray cats.

Turkey Peace Cat

Earlier this year, Turkish soldiers marched into what is currently standing in the ISIS-held village of al-Bab in Syria’s Aleppo governorate.
The Battle of al-Bab was an offensive that saw the combined efforts of Syrian rebel groups and the Turkish Armed Forces in the north, a separate Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) offensive east and west of the city and another Syrian Army offensive from the south of the city.

The civilians had fled for their lives, waiting for some kind of normalcy to return. Following months of bombings and battles, fighting ended with the Islamic State’s withdrawal on Feb. 23.

When soldiers were finally able to enter, there was little sign of life. Apart from the moon, it is hard to imagine a more desolate and inhospitable landscape. 

Among the debris of war, Turkish Army officer Omer Ozkan spotted an unlikely survivor: white and marmalade kitten. Somehow it seemed to have been one of the few survivors.
Ozkan transported the cat, which he named Baris, on a 90-mile journey back over the Syrian border to the Turkish city of Gaziantep.

A photo of the kitten appeared in national newspapers and a publishing company in Istanbul was chosen as Baris' new home.
The publishing executive took Baris by plane to Istanbul from the animal shelter in Gaziantep that had housed him for a month. The cat was given his vaccinations and full medical checkup before arriving in Turkey's largest city.
 Salih Yavuz, the head of sales at the firm, told Newsweek:
“It was very meaningful for us that the Turkish soldiers gave him the name ‘Peace’ in the conditions of war. One day, we hope peace comes to the Middle East too.”
He is also aware that survival- for both human and animal-  is just a matter of chance in such a war-torn land.
“We think that it is very lucky compared to innocent people and animals who cannot survive. We are also very happy [to be] someone who gives a second chance in life to Baris.”
For the complete story, please click here

From Cemetery to College

Whenever we have moments of despair, it is always good to remember how strong the spirit to survive can be. It's easy to forget that and how, with just a little help, people can rise up out of even the most challenging conditions.

Khay Ann Igle

I can imagine that there are a lot of people who might envy 21-year-old Khay Ann Igle today. However, few of us would be willing to take her place a decade or so ago.

Starting from the age of three,  Igle was on the streets of downtown Manila, the capital of the Philippines, begging for food and spare change. She grew up on the grounds of the Manila North Cemetery, the kind of place Charles Dickens might have set a novel over a hundred and fifty years ago.  

At the age of 5, she became a vendor of sampaguita flowers, a jasmine of the Philippines, at various churches in Cubao, Quezon City, España and the Dangwa Flower Market in Sampaloc, Manila.
Through a translator, she explains:
Life at the cemetery is very difficult. Every day, we need to sell sampaguita so we can buy food. Sometimes, we don’t earn anything so we don’t eat at all. Sometimes, we share the little we have to those who are hungry.
Somehow, despite continuing to sell flowers, she was able to attend elementary school.
I was still selling sampagita even when I was in elementary school. I juggled selling sampagita in the morning and going to school at noon and vice versa. My life revolved around that routine.
According to the article, the hardest part of her struggle was not surrendering to hopelessness. It was, she tells, her love for her parents that provided the energy and inspiration she needed.

At nine, Igle found much-needed help through ChildHope Philippines a non-profit sectarian organization that provides assistance to the street children in the Philippines. With the help of staff and volunteers, she managed to stay in school and, at the same time, sell sampaguita flowers.  

When she was in her second year of high school, Childhope's Junior Health Worker (JHW) program gave her an opportunity to help other street children. In this program, field workers conduct education sessions on life skills, ethics, vocational training etc. In Igle's case, As a junior health worker, she taught street children basic first aid and proper hygiene.
Slowly, things began to change for her.

In high school, she was chosen as a beneficiary of Childhope’s Educational Assistance Program (EAP), where donors supported her through college.
Even with this kind of financial assistance, Igle struggled.
Because of the hardships I experienced, I learned to dream not only for myself but also for my family and the people around me. I was able to fulfill a mission in life: to finish school.
This year, after 16 years of surviving on the streets and selling jasmine flowers,  Igle graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism from the Eulogio "Amang" Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology.
Good luck to you, Khay!

Who is Watching Over You?

And finally, when it comes to surviving, sometimes we never know who is covering our back.
It's only when the crucial moment comes do we ever actually know, as this short clip demonstrates.

Have a great weekend, friends. And keep surviving and keep smiling.