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Music in the Dark – An Egyptian Female Orchestra Made Up of Blind Women

Egypt’s Al Nour Wal Amal orchestra is one of the world’s most remarkable musical ensembles. It consists of around 48 blind women from Cairo who have to rely solely on their memory when performing complicated compositions by classic composers like Mozart, Brahms, Strauss or Tchaikovsky.

Learning to play instruments like violin, chello or flute is a difficult process, but can you imagine mastering any of them without ever being able to see them? That’s what would-be members of the Al Nour Wal Amal orchestra have to do in order to become a part of the ensemble. And, once they’ve finally mastered their chosen instrument, they have to train their memory in order to be able to store up to 45 composition pieces in their heads, to be able to perform a concert, all while keeping in sync with the other members during a performance. It seems impossible, but these incredible women are living proof that it can be done.

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The “Forest Man of Bangladesh” Has Been Planting a Tree Every Day for the Past 48 Years

They say that one man can’t make a difference, but Abdul Samad Sheikh, a 60-year-old rickshaw driver from Bangladesh, is living proof that small contributions over a long period of time can mean very much. He has planted at least one tree every day since he was 12-years-old, which means that he has so far planted a small forest of over 17,500 trees. Imagine if everyone followed his example.

Abdul Samad Sheikh, fondly known as “Tree Samad” in his native town of Faridpur, central Bangadesh, has worked as a rickshaw driver for most of his life. The modest job earns him about 100 taka ($1.25) per day, which is barely enough to put food on the table for his family, but he somehow manages to also buy at least one tree from the Faridpur Horticulture Centre, every day. He considers it his duty to the world, and claims he wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if he didn’t plant a tree that day.

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Lord of the Birds – Indian Man Dedicates His Life to Saving Endangered and Abandoned Birds

Dr. Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji has recently been recognized by Guinness Book of Records for housing the most bird species under a single roof, 468. He is not a collector who takes pleasure in depriving exotic birds of their freedom, but simply a compassionate man who rescues endangered, injured and abandoned birds from around the world and offers sanctuary in his aviary.

Swamiji, the founder of Avadhoota Datta Peetham ashram, in Mysuru, India, has been passionate about birds for as long as he can remember. Growing up in Mekedattu woods, on the shores of the Cauvery river, he remembers spending much of his time watching many species of birds as they took shelter in the trees outside his house. But it was an accident in 2011 that made him understand his purpose in life – to save as many endangered and abandoned birds as possible – and build his 21-acre aviary in the forests of Mysuru.

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“China’s Hottest Grandpa” Is Not Your Average 81-Year-Old

Retirement usually involves slowing down, taking it easy for a change, but not for 81-year-old Wang Deshun. For him, it’s all about commercial photo shoots, parading bare-chested on fashion runways and brushing shoulders with Chinese superstars. He is “China’s hottest grandpa” and the man praised for changing the country’s traditional view of old age.

Wang Deshun’s life changed one march evening, two years ago, when he got the chance to walk on the runway at the China Fashion Week in Beijing. With his chiseled physique, hipster beard, long silver hair and youthful attitude, the 79-year-old made quite an impression, and things just kept getting better for him after that. But how he ended up on the stage of an international fashion festival is quite a story in itself.

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31-Year-Old Becomes First Person to Climb Yosemite’s El Capitan with No Ropes

Alex Honnold, a 31-year-old mountain climber from Northern California, recently became the first person ever to climb the 3,000-foot high El Capitan granite wall in Yosemite National Park, without any ropes or other safety equipment.

Hannold pulled-off the historic, death-defying “free solo” climb on Saturday, June 4th, reaching the top of El Capitan in just 3 hours and 56 minutes. All he used as gear was a bag of chalk powder to improve his grip on the slippery granite. To make his job a little easier, the young climber climbed the wall several times before, using ropes, and marked every toe and finger-hold he would use during his free climb, with chalk. Even so, the challenge was monumental, and his success prompted Alpinist Magazine to write “This is indisputably the greatest free solo of all time.”

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Brazilian Man Spends 40 Years Bringing a Forest Back to Life

83-year-old Antonio Vicente has spent the last four decades of his life fighting against the current. As Brazilian landowners cut down rainforests to make room for profitable plantations and cattle grazing grounds, he struggled to bring the lush jungles of his childhood back to life. Today, his efforts are being rewarded, as the completely stripped land he once began planting trees on 40 years ago, has become a beautiful jungle teeming with tropical wildlife once again.

It was 1973 when Antonio took up the challenge of restoring the forest on a 31-hectare piece of land that had been razed for cattle grazing. Ironically enough, he bought the land on the outskirts of Sao Pablo, in Brazil’s Sao Paulo region, using credits that the military government was giving out to promote deforestation and investing in advanced agricultural technology. But Antonio had no intention of using the money to boost the national agriculture. He just wanted to revive the forest.

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This Chilean Sanctuary Gives Rescued Farm Animals the Love and Affection They Deserve

If there is such a place as heaven for farm animals, it must be a lot like Santuario Igualdad Interspecies, an incredible sanctuary for domestic animals destined for slaughter or left for dead. Here, not only do they get to live in perfect peace and harmony, but they receive all the love and affection they deserve.

A couple of days ago, I cam across this incredible video of a man cuddling with a grown cow. The animal seemed to be enjoying the human affection immensely, and responded by gently laying its head on the man’s chest and closing its eyes in delight as he petted and kissed its neck. It was very touching, and I decided that I had to learn more about it. I soon discovered an entire YouTube channel full of similar videos of two people affectionately interacting with various farm animals, like pigs, goats or ducks. They were shot at Santuario Igualdad Interspecie, a small animal sanctuary, in Chile, where tending to the emotional needs of rescued farm animals is of the utmost importance.

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Couple Spend 25 Years Turning Barren Patch of Land into Paradise of Biodiversity

In 1991, Anil and Pamela Malhotra bought a 55 acres of unused farmland in Karnataka, India, and started planting native trees on it. Over the last 25 years, their small forest has turned into a 300-acre wildlife sanctuary that hundreds of endangered plants, animals and birds call home.

Anil and Pamela met and married in New Jersey, USA, during the 1960s. They both shared a love for wildlife, and after visiting Hawaii on their honeymoon, they fell in love with the archipelago’s lush forests and fascinating fauna. They bought some land and decided to settle there. “That is where we learnt the value of forests and realized that despite threats of global warming no serious efforts were being made to save forests for the future,” Anil said.

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This 98-Year-Old Yoga Instructor Is in Way Better Shape Than You

They say age is just a number, and watching 98-year-old V Nanammal effortlessly execute a wide range of difficult yoga poses that practitioners decades her junior still struggle with, I’m inclined to believe that they’re absolutely right. Recognized as the oldest yoga instructor in India, and the second oldest in the world, Nanammal has inspired a whole generation of Indian youths to take the ancient art.

V Nanammal started doing yoga when she was 8, picking up the basics from her father, who was a martial artist. She then continued learning the secrets of the practice under the guidance of her grandfather, in her home town of Coimbatore, India’s Tamid Nadu state. After getting married, Nanammal continued learning yoga from her father-in-law, and soon started teaching others. The elderly yoga instructor says that she never stopped practicing yoga for the last nine decades of her life, and credits it for her good health and incredible flexibility. She claims to have never been to the hospital or even taken any kind of medicine. “I never stopped practicing yoga at any point in my life. That’s the secret of my health,” she says.

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The Brave “Spiderman Cleaners” Risking Their Lives to Keep China’s Mountains Trash-Free

With millions of Chinese visiting the country’s sacred mountains every year, keeping them trash-free is incredibly difficult. Luckily, that’s where the Spiderman cleaners come in. These dedicated men an women risk their lives on a daily basis, rappelling down steep cliffs to reach plastic bottles, bags and various other garbage thrown there by uncivilized tourists.

Spiderman cleaners get their name from the dangerous nature of their job. Photos released in the media show them dangling thousands of feet above ground on the side of steep mountain cliffs, supported only by ropes or cables, as they attempt to collect hard-to-reach trash. In an attempt to highlight the danger of their work and make tourists think twice before littering, some of the cleaners actually exchanged their regular uniforms for Spiderman costumes. This has made them a hit with visitors, who often stop to watch these real-life versions of their favorite superhero descend into the abyss to pick up a piece of trash, rewarding them with applause and cheers when they complete their mission.

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India’s ‘Mother of Orphans’ Has Raised Over 1,400 Abandoned Children

The story of Sindhutai Sapkal is one of incredible determination in the face of adversity, rebirth and love of children who nobody else wanted. The 68-year-old has raised over 1,400 orphans, offering them not just food and shelter, but also the love of a real family. Her amazing work has earned her over 750 awards, and the nickname “Mother of Orphans”.

Sapkal runs four orphanages in her home town of Prune, India’s Maharashtra state – two for girls and two for boys – with the help of her biological daughter, Mamta, and her eldest adopted children, some of whom have become lawyers, doctors and professors. The children under her care were found trying to fend for themselves in railway station, abandoned in dustbins, or even dragged by stray dogs in the streets. New ones are brought to her orphanages all the time, and as long as they are eligible for adoption, she never turns them away. But unlike state-run orphanages, the Mother of Orphans doesn’t give her children up for adoption with other families, and doesn’t turn them away when they turn 18.

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Chinese Man Spends 36 Years Chiseling at Three Mountains to Bring Water to His Village

Driven by a desire to improve the living conditions in his home, Huang Dafa, chief of Caowangba, a small village hidden deep in the mountains of Guizhou Province, China, spent 36 years digging a 10-kilometer-long water canal through three mountains.

The Chinese legend of Yu Gong speaks of an old man whose house was separated from the nearest village by two mountains. So he started digging away at them to make a direct route to the village. People mocked him for what they called a futile effort,  but he responded that while his descendants could dig for generations, the mountains couldn’t grow any higher. Moved by his determination, the gods moved the mountains, clearing the way for Yu Gong. Today, the saying “yu gong yi shan” – “the old man that could move mountains” – is used to describe ambition in the face on insurmountable odds.

But while the mythical Yu Gong was helped by divine intervention, Huang Dafa, village chief of Caowangba, in the mountains of Guizhou, could only rely on his will and the power of persuasion to build a long water channel through three karst mountains. His ambitious project began in 1959 and required 36 years of hard labor to complete. Today, his village is thriving thanks to constant running water, and he is celebrated as a real-life version of Yu Gong.

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The “Dog Lady of Delhi” Looks After Over 400 Strays

Pratima Devi, a 65-year-old ragpicker from New Delhi, India, has dedicated the last three decades of her life to caring for stray dogs. Rummaging through trash and running a small tea stall barely allows her to support herself, but she’ll gladly skip a meal or two to feed the hundreds of dogs she looks after on a daily basis.

The “Dog Lady of Delhi”, ad Pratima has come to be known in India, never had an easy life. Born into a poor family, she got married to a man 10 years her senior when she was only 7 years old, and had her first child at age 14. Her marriage was not a happy one, as her husband would often come home drunk and beat her, and both she and her mother suffered at the hand of her in-laws. Her husband didn’t have a job, so she had to work all day and take care of the house to make sure they had food on the table.

When he was 5 years old, the oldest of her three children went to New Delhi to work, and when living with her abusive husband became too much to bare, Pratima followed him to start a new life. There, she started working as a domestic helper in the house of a popular model-turned-actor, and later set up her own tea stall, in the Saket neighborhood of Delhi. It was here that she met her best friends, stray dogs.

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7-Year-Old Boy Suffering from Rare Condition Runs Triathlons to Stay Alive

Jake Vella suffers from a rare hormonal condition that causes him to rapidly gain weight despite eating healthy and doing regular exercise. There is nothing anyone can do to stop the weight gain, but in order to stop the process and stay alive, the 7-year-old boy competes in triathlons.

Jake’s parents first noticed there was something wrong with him three years ago, when he gained about 20 pounds in just six months. He kept putting on weight despite eating only salad. In 2015, Jake was diagnosed with ROHHAD (Rapid-onset Obesity with Hypothalamic dysfunction, Hypoventilation and Autonomic Dysregulation), a rare condition that affects the nervous system and causes rapid weight gain, as well as an inability to regulate body temperature and maintain normal water levels. It can cause tumors to develop, and Jake already has one on his back. Unfortunately, the condition is currently incurable and the life expectancy of sufferers ranges between 5 and 9 years.

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Grocery Store Owner Has Been Offering Free Bread to the Needy for the Last 8 Years

For the last 8 year, about 200 residents of Strunino, a small town in Russia’s Vladimir Oblast region have not had to worry about buying bread, thanks to the generosity of a local grocery store owner who has been giving it away for free.

Mamoud Shavershyan came to Russia, from Armenia, 25 years ago. He worked as an engineer, before setting up his own business, a small grocery store no different than other such stores in Strunino. But everything changed one day, 8 years ago when, sitting behind the counter, Mamoud saw an old lady counting dozens of coins to pay for a couple of loaves of bread. He found it humiliating for the pensioner and ended up giving her the bread for free. That day, he made the decision to print coupons that pensioners in Strunino could exchange for white or black bread at his store. To make sure that people knew about his offer he advertised it a local paper.

But that was only the beginning. Soon, Mamoud extended his generous offer to people with disabilities, large families with low income, and the generally poor. News spread like wildfire, and soon poor people from neighboring villages started coming by his shop to receive coupons. Today, the “Eric” grocery store in Strunino gives away around 2,000 loaves of white bread and 1,000 loaves of black bread, every month. They also regularly donate gingerbread to local kindergartens, and to coupon holders during holidays. And for their kindness, Mamoud and his family are “rewarded” with insults, racial slurs and accusations of theft…

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