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The Angel of Nanjing – Man Dedicates His Life to Preventing Suicides

The Yangtze River Bridge in Nanjing, China, is one of the most popular suicide spots in the world, and also the place where one man has spent all his weekends and holidays over the last 13 years trying to convince people out of ending their lives. He has so far been able to save over 300 people.

Chen Si claims that he can approach and talk people out of jumping off the bridge, because he knows how they feel. Many of those who attempt to commit suicide on the Yangtze River Bridge are not actually from Nanjing, but migrant workers living far away from home. Mr. Chen was like them once, a migrant disappointed with his life, living far away from his family. But then he met an old man who offered him optimistic advice and helped him look at life in a positive way. Unfortunately, not longer after they met, the old man’s sons started arguing about their inheritance, and he got so upset that he stopped eating and eventually died. It was this tragic event that inspired Chen to help troubled souls overcome their difficulties and persuade them that life is worth living. He always believed that if he had visited the old man sooner, as he had planned to do, he might have convinced him of that as well. “What could be more important than life itself?” he asks.

So every weekend since 2003, Chen Si has been traveling 25 kilometers from his home to the Yangtze Bridge and patrolling it for hours, either on foot or on his scooter, looking for people who look like they might be thinking of jumping into the river. He pays particularly close attentions to loners staring into the muddy waters below. Chen says he has become an expert at spotting people contemplating suicide. “It is very easy to recognize,” he says. “A person walks without a soul.”

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12-year-Old Boy Learns to Sew So He Can Make Stuffed Toys for Sick Children

Fueled by a desire to bring joy to others, Campbell Remess taught himself how to sew when he was only 9 years old, and for the past three years he has created over 800 stuffed toys for sick children in hospitals.

It all started three years ago, when Campbell asked his parents if they could buy Christmas presents for kids in hospital. They were touched by his kindness, but told him that buying so many toys would be too costly. He is one of nine siblings, and buying presents presents for all of them was already a pretty expensive affair for the parents. Only Campbell didn’t let a simple “no” discourage him out of bringing a bit of joy to kids going through tough times, so he just decided to make the presents himself.

Campbell’s mother, Sonya Whittaker, thought it was a great idea, assuming he was going to make  a bunch of paintings or drawings. But then he approached her with a pattern for a stuffed animal he found online, asking if she could make any sense of it. The woman struggled with it, but eventually Campbell himself figured it out. He asked if he could use his mother’s sewing machine to make the toy, and she agreed, as long as he was careful not to sew his fingers by mistake. It took the 9-year-old boy five hours to create his first stuffed animal, but after three years of practice, he is now able to put one together in just an hour.

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Four-Year-Old Russian Girl Speaks Seven Different Languages, Stuns the World

At first glance, Bella Devyatkina, from Moscow, Russia, is your typical carefree, playful four-year-old, but ask her a question in Russian, English, French, Spanish, German, Chinese or Arabic, and you will be shocked by her articulate response.

Bella made headlines in Russia a few days ago, when she appeared on a TV talent show, where she spoke seven different languages without a prominent accent, stunning both the judges and millions of viewers. Since then, a YouTube video of her performance went viral online, transforming the four-year-old polyglot into on overnight internet celebrity. She has since been invited to appear on a variety of television programs where moderators and other guests conversed with her in several of the seven languages she is fluent in, and she always understood their questions and answered accordingly.

So how does a four-year-old girl learn so many languages in such a short period of time, when most people spend years struggling to become fluent in just one foreign language. Bella’s mother, Yulia, said that she and her father started teaching her English when she was just two years old, and after noticing her interest in the language and the ease with which she picked up everything, they decided to gradually adding more languages to her schedule. They hired native tutors for each new language, and by the time she was three and a half years old, she was already speaking two languages. She mastered two more, in the next six months.

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“Santa of Syria” Smuggles Toys into War-Torn Aleppo to Bring Children Joy

For the past five years, 44-year-old Finish-Syrian Rami Adham has dedicated his life to helping the children of Aleppo cope with the horrors of war by smuggling toys into the besieged city.

Rami Adhman was born in Aleppo, but moved to Finland with his family in 1989. When the Syrian civil war started, in 2012, he decided he had to help the children of his native city in any way he could. In the beginning, he never planned on taking toys, thinking that food, medicine, and drinking water were the things that mattered most. However, on one occasion of crossing the border, his daughter told him she wanted to donate her toys to the kids of Aleppo. He took the girl up on her offer, and upon seeing the joy on the Syrian children’s faces when he took the toys out of his backpack, he decided to make them a priority on his subsequent runs.

Adham soon became known as the “toy smuggler” and the “Santa of Syria”. He has so far made the journey from Helsinki to Aleppo 28 times, and doesn’t plan on stopping until the war ends. Until two years ago, he crossed into Syria through the border with Turkey, but after it closed down, he started crossing into the war-torn country illegally, carrying an 80kg bag of toys on his back all the way to Aleppo. It’s a dangerous trip that he has to make by foot, because it’s dangerous to drive through rebel-held and government-held districts. But those aren’t the only forces he has to avoid, as he claims that his humanitarian efforts have also made him a wanted man by ISIS and Shia militias in Syria.

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86-Year-Old “Iron Nun” Is Living Proof That Age Is Just a Number

There’s a good reason people call Sister Madonna Buder the “Iron Nun”. She competed in her first triathlon at age 52 and went on to complete over 340 of them since then, including 46 Ironman triathlons. At age 86, she is still participating in the grueling endurance events and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

Born in July 1930, in St. Louis, Missouri, Marie Dorthy Buder was never really into running as a child. She was an active girl and even recalls winning a national championship in equestrian events as a 16-year-old, but sport was always just a hobby. At 14, Buder had already decided to become a nun, under the influence of the Visitation Sisters at the all-girls Visitation Academy in St. Louis, Missouri, that her parents put her in after sixth grade. At 23-years-old, Marie Dorothy fulfilled her calling in life and became Sister Madonna. In 1970, she left her congregation to join 38 other nuns from different backgrounds to found new and non-traditional community of Religious Sisters, independent from the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. This move gave her the freedom to choose her own ministry and lifestyle and would later lead her to discover her second calling – running.

Sister Madonna Buder only started running for fun at age 48, at the suggestion of a priest, who told her it was good for her body and mind. Before running her first official race, she consulted with Father John about whether it was a good idea, since people weren’t used to seeing a nun competing in running events. She told him she wanted to run for a good cause – Multiple Sclerosis (MS) – but wasn’t sure how the world would react to a nun running a race. The priest told her “Sister, I wish some of my priests would do what you’re doing,” and gave her his blessing.

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Inspiring Wheelchair-Bound Woman Teaches People How to Dance

Chelsie Hill knew she wanted to become a dancer ever since she was 3 years old, and not even a life-altering accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down was going to wreck her dream. She learned to use her wheelchair as part of her body and started to dance again. Today she is an acclaimed hip-hop dancer, motivational speaker and a fine example that when life gives you lemons, you can indeed make lemonade.

“Dance is the only thing my daughter has ever wanted to do,” Chelsie’s mother Wendy Hill says. She won her first competition at age five and kept turning in stellar performances all through her school years. She made the high-school varsity dance team as a freshman and everything seem to point to a successful career as a professional dancer. But then, tragedy struck. After a party, Chelsie got in a car with a drunk driver who hit a tree head-on at 40mph. She survived the ordeal, but was diagnosed as a T10 paraplegic. The aspiring dancer retained full control of her upper body, but doctors told her that she would never walk again. She was just 17 at the time.

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The Amazing Story of a Blind Professional Photographer and Rock Climber

Justin Salas was only 14 when he lost his sight almost completely and was declared legally blind. Now 22, the ambitious young man is a living example that nothing is impossible – even though he can’t see, Justin is a professional photographer and skilled rock climber.

Justin’s blindness wasn’t the result of an unfortunate accident or a sudden occurrence where he woke up one morning to find that he couldn’t see anymore. His eyesight had always been poor and he started wearing glasses when he was 5-years-old. But it wasn’t until his freshman year of high-school that his vision started deteriorating at a rapid pace. His glasses no longer helped and tests revealed that his optic nerves were dying, although the cause was a mystery for all the doctors he’d seen.

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Meet Jana Jihad – Palestine’s Youngest Amateur Reporter

While most 10-year-olds are busy playing games, learning the ropes at school and enjoying their childhood, Janna Jihad risks her life reporting on the Palestinian – Israeli conflict in the occupied West Bank, in an effort to raise awareness to the plight of her people.

A resident of Nabi Saleh, a small Palestinian village north of the West Bank city of Ramallah, Janna has been a witness to the tragedies of war from a very young age. Her mother, Nawal, says she was traumatized after one of her friends was shot dead by the Israeli army. “He was older than her but used to always be friendly and nice to her so that she became attached to him. When she saw his blood on the ground, she became frantic.”  She used to pen her feelings and frustrations in a locked journal every night, but the deaths of two of her relatives – her cousin, Mustafa Tamimi, and another uncle, Rushdie Tamimi – inspired her to get involved and reveal the injustice the people in her village are being subjected to.

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Amazing Human Being Has Laid Over 550 Unclaimed Bodies to Rest in the Last 60 Years

Mithalal Sindhi, from the Indian city of Ahmedabad, is not a rich man, by any means. He has been living on the streets for the last six decades, earning a modest living by selling Bajra (pearl millet) from his pedal rickshaw. Most of what he makes, Mithalal spends on performing the last rites for unclaimed dead bodies that no one else takes responsibility for. He is without a doubt one of the most kindhearted people we have ever written about.

During the partition of the British Indian Empire, 15-year-old Mithalal moved from Pakistan to Bombay, with his family. He did a number of odd jobs to make ends meet and survive in the big city, but in 1957, he moved to Ahmedabad where he started a small fruit selling business using what little savings he had. It was during this time that he met Nyaldas Sindhi, a vegetable vendor, with whom he became very close friends. They would eat lunch together and even sleep next to each other on the footpath, at night. Their friendship came to an abrupt ending in just two years, after Mithalal tried waking his friend one morning, but he didn’t respond.

Devastated by Nyaldas’ death, the young fruit vendor realized his friend had no close families or relatives to take care of the last rites. Mithalal asked the Mukhya (Leader of Vegetable Market) for help, but he refused, telling him it was not his concern. No one was willing to take responsibility for his friend, so he stepped up and had his body cremated near Callico Mill. It was this experience that made him realize that there were so many people dying every day in Ahmedabad that had no one to perform their last rites. He decided he was going to be the person to do it.

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Meet the Plus-Size Male Dancer Challenging Ballet Stereotypes

American ballet dancer Erik Cavanaugh is proving to the world that plus-size performers can be just as agile and graceful as their slim counterparts. His Instagram is filled with photographs and videos of himself performing ballet and other contemporary dance routines. He hopes to appear in music videos and on the Ellen Show, and his ultimate goal is to “change the mind and shape of dancers”.

Erik, 23, works at a pizza parlor by day and spends all his spare time dancing and choreographing. He learned the basics of dance at the Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School when he was much younger, and was encouraged to post videos of his performances online by his dance coach at his alma mater, Slippery Rock University.

Some of his short video clips feature him pulling off incredibly difficult and impressive moves, like multiple pirouettes, set to contemporary music like Justin Bieber’s Purpose and Jordan Smith’s Settle. The New York Post featured a compilation of Erik’s moves in a Facebook video, which went viral, inspiring millions around the world.

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The Inspiring Story of a Man Who Became a Top Bicycle Repairman after Losing Nine Fingers and Both Legs

23 years ago, Yue Jin lost both his legs and nine of his fingers in a freak accident. He thought his life was over, but somehow found the strength to start over and today he is one of the most sought-after bicycle repairmen in Jilin City, northern China.

In 1993, while he was cutting firewood in the mountains of Jilin province, Yue Jin accidentally fell into a deep valley and almost died. His injuries were so severe that doctors had to amputate both his legs and all but one of his ten fingers. For a man who made his living with his hands, it was almost a death sentence. And it was even more devastating considering Yue had also lost his wife just three days after childbirth, leaving him to take care of their daughter. After the accident, he couldn’t see any other way to do that than go out and beg for a few coins and some food, so he left his daughter in the care of some neighbors and ventured out on to the streets.

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Amazing 7-Year-Old Born without Hands Wins National Hand-Writing Competition

7-year-old Anaya Ellick was born without hands, but she’s mastered the art of writing by holding her pencil in between the ends of her arms, as she stands over her desk at a comfortable angle. The adorable first-grader could have used prosthetics, but she chose to practice using her own arms instead and got so good at it that this year she actually won  the Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellence in Manuscript Penmanship for beautiful writing.

Anaya’s parents, Bianca and Gary, were naturally shocked and worried sick when they first found out she didn’t have hands. But Anaya proved to be a precocious child, learning early on to tie her shoes, dress herself, and attempting to do other things by herself before asking for help. Her ambitious nature was also mentioned by the principal of her school, Tracy Cox. “There is truly very little that this girl cannot do,” the Greenbrier Christian Academy principal told ABC News. “She is determined. She is independent. She is a vivacious and a no-excuses type of young lady.”

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Meet the Middle-Aged Cholitas Conquering the Highest Mountains in South America

Most mountaineers wouldn’t venture out on an expedition without the proper gear and attire, but a group of Bolivian women have shocked the world by climbing some of South America’s highest mountains – all while wearing their traditional attire of colorful, layered skirts. Dressed in ‘cholita paceñas’ outfits complete with Andean ‘aguayo’ shawls and knitted cardigans, they look like typical grannies albeit on a serious mission.

These women, belonging to the indigenous Aymara people of the Andes, would normally stay at home while their husbands worked as mountain guides in the worst of conditions. They would cook at base camps or work as porters, never actually scaling the treacherous peaks themselves. But all that changed a couple of years ago, when Lydia Huayllas, wife of a mountain guide, wanted to know what it felt like to scale the steep, glacial slopes of the 19,974-foot Huayna Potosi mountain.

“What do you do up there, how does it feel?” she asked her husband, Eulalio Gonzalez. In response, he told her to find out for herself. So she did just that.

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Afghan Teacher Turns His Bicycle into a Mobile Library to Give Isolated Children a Chance to Read

In a nation ravaged by war, where children have little to no access to quality literature, a school teacher is trying his best to make a difference. Saber Hosseini, who teaches children in the city of Bamiyan, central Afghanistan, has converted his bicycle into a mobile library which he rides to remote villages.

“I came up with the idea for this project six months ago. I talked about it to friends in literary circles, who donated money and got some of their friends abroad to donate as well. I started alone with 200 storybooks for kids, and started riding to remote villages throughout Bamiyan province. Soon, I recruited more volunteers – now there are 20 of us, and we have a collection of about 6,000 books.” Most of these books are imported from Iran.

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Meet the Incredible Jake Olson – A Completely Blind College Football Player

After years of cheering for his favorite college football team, University of Southern California student Jake Olson has achieved the impossible dream – despite being completely blind, he is now a part of the team, playing as long snapper for the USC Trojans, approaching the game based on feel rather than sight.

Born with retinoblastoma, a rare cancer of the retina, Jake lost his left eye when he was only eight months old. “When the doctors found my cancer, it was completely taking over my left eye,” he said. “The greatest fear is the cancer spreading through the optic nerve to the brain.” So the eye had to be removed entirely, followed by several rounds of chemotherapy and laser treatment to prevent the cancer from spreading to the right eye. Sadly, it kept coming back.  At age 12, Jake received news that he would have to lose his right eye as well. “Realizing what I was going to be confronting… a life without sight, it was difficult. I didn’t feel completely hopeless, but there was this sense of ‘I don’t know how I’m gonna do anything anymore.’”

Being a lifelong Trojan fan, one of Jake’s last wishes before he lost his eye was to watch them play at Notre Dame and also to witness a practice session the night before the surgery. “There were nights of crying and stressful times when I couldn’t get the thought of going blind out of my psyche,” he said, speaking to the LA Times. “But every time I was up at USC or talking to one of the players or just being around, it was just pure fun. And truthfully, peace.”

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