Born to Be a Firefighter


A wrong turn can save lives.

Back in January, fire was spreading fast inside a three-story brick home in the city of Newport, OH. Trapped inside were an 82-year old mother and her two adult children. One of them, her 58-year old son, has cerebral palsy and cannot be moved easily in his wheelchair. But herself  and her daughter could have escaped the fire easily. Instead they all huddled together, shouting for help and hoping for a miracle.

Nearby, Mexican native Adolfo Valle was driving his aunt to the grocery store. Not familiar with the neighborhood he took a wrong turn and ended up in front of the house on fire. Hearing the screams, he  rushed inside and got out carrying the son in his arms. He went back to help the mother walk through the smoke, her daughter following them. And them he just disappeared.

Actually, his job done, he drove away with his aunt to find this ‘damn’ grocery store. It took the city of Newport several days to find the savior who appeared at the right time. Finally Adolfo Valle, who immigrated legally last year was reunited with the family he saved and was honored by the city. Icing on the cake, the firefighters made him a honorary firefighter. That happens to be exactly what he had always dreamed of becoming.

Now Adolfo is being helped towards his citizenship so he can train to be a firefighter.

Remember: give and you shall receive.  ;)


Bullied but not Beaten


Bullies can destroy a child’s personality. Or not.

Singaporian Li Chao Feng had been bullied so much that he started to skip school to avoid being beaten. Finally, not being able to cope anymore with this situation, he decided to quit. His parents tried to dissuade him to no avail. Li Chao Feng didn’t care anymore about anything. He just didn’t want to face again his bigger-sized schoolmates.

So at 15, he dropped from High School. His self-esteem was in tatters and he had no goals in life. He started drifting, taking up a small job and hanging out with the wrong crowd late at night. It lasted eight months. But then several things happened. Li Chao Feng realized that he might get stuck forever with his small job with no possibilities of getting a better life. Also, at home he had two younger brothers who were looking up to him as a role model.

Li Chao Feng decided to take action. In order to put his life back on track he needed an education. He enrolled in a private school and took night classes. Because didn’t want to burden his parents with the tuition he took a second job as a pizza deliveryman. Late at night he hit the books. Li Chao Feng had found his goal.

Now, 11 years after dropping out of High School, he is set to enter college with a promising future as an engineer. “It has been a difficult journey working and studying at the same time. But along the way, I have been helped by people [...] I am thankful for them,” says Li Chao Feng who has set his eyes on higher goals and has become a true role model for his brothers.

By our actions, our decisions, we influence others especially younger people. I am often wondering what kind of role model I am. It is true that the sky is the limit but even in small ways, I can positively influence younger lifes. You too? Via

When School is a Wish


Khurram is only 11 years old but is already roaming the streets of Lahore in eastern Pakistan. He must find a job, any job, everyday.

A little over two years ago, Khurram was going to school and his family was living inside the beautiful Swat valley in the north. Since then, the school has been blown up by Taliban fighters coming from neighboring Afghanistan and the valley is now just a battlefield where government troops are fighting back the rebels.

Hundreds of thousands have been displaced, including Khurram’s family. His father cannot find a job in Lahore and the family savings just paid enough to move away from their ancestral home. They were supposed to live with family relatives but because the place was already full of refugees, Khurram’s family had to rent a home, adding to the financial pressure.

What will be Khurram’s future? Will he be able to go back to school? For now, with resilience, he looks everyday for a new job, to help the family’s finances.

Has he heard that in some countries, attending school is as easy as waking up in the morning? If he has, I bet he would love to experience that. Via

I Will Help Hungry Kids


If you follow the NFL you know Amobi Okoye. He is a defensive tackle for the Houston Texans. He is not yet 22 and became the youngest player ever to be drafted in 2007 at age 19.  Not bad for someone of such a young age. Even more interesting is that Amobi, immigrated for Nigeria with his parents when he was 12 having never played football before. He also achieved academic success by majoring in psychology and graduating one semester earlier.

Is he the ultra-gifted-talented-boy, the Michael-Jordan-style that appears once in a while? Amobi would tell you no and would credit his parents and tight-knit family for his achievements. He says that his two biggest influences have been his father and his mother who encouraged and believed in him.

That could be the end of the story: a young NFL star player enjoying the good life. But Amobi feels he has been lucky. He feels like many kids don’t have this chance to have supportive parents and he feels like if your belly is empty it is difficult to be a good student.

So he created his own non-profit, the Amobi Okoye Foundation. He rallied other young superstars players and took them to Nigeria to raise awareness, distribute scholarships and improve education and living condition. His foundation has done much more than that in and outside the US and he just came back from another trip to Africa. And he is not yet 22.

What Amobi Okoye is doing we can also do. Look around you. I am sure there is a kid, someone who is looking for some support, some encouragement, he or she is not getting at home. Don’t blame the parents, just give some of your time to that kid. You never know, a 5-minute talk or playing time could have a tremendous impact down the road and change his or her future.

Chen Jin (Chinese Teen)


Sometimes the stories featured here don’t always have a happy ending. But the action taken by Chen, from Wuxi, Jiangsu province, to help her dying father shows how far selflessness can go. It can also fire back. Of course no one should copy Chen’s actions but given the circumstances of her life, it is possible not to approve but to understand. Via

Tiffany Sauls (US High School Student)


Tiffany, from Albertville, AL, when she was 12, picked up the phone to call the police. She was scared and wanted to escape abuse from her drug-addicted mother. She had the courage to denounce her mother. Strangely enough her parents had divorced twice but officials didn’t question her mother’s ability to raise young children. This is what Tiffany is fighting for, changing the law to make it tougher for parents suspected of abusing drugs to win custody or visitation rights.Via

Marla Ruzicka (US Aid Worker)


She was a strong-willed young woman who believed in a better world. 4 years ago today her life was cut short in Irak. Since then, she has had a strong influence on a whole generation. Her fund and more on Marla.

Vania Aguirre (US College Student)

by on April 15, 2009
in Family, USA


She and her sister Noemi from Palatine, IL, were attending college, dreaming of a better future . A car accident killed their parents. Suddenly they had to quit college to take care of their two younger siblings. Via

Alan Emmanuel Villaseñor (US High School Student)


8 months ago he lost his dad from brain tumor. After mourning, he is turning his life by helping other families facing the same challenge. Via

Monthip (Thai Singer)


She is only 12 and blind from birth. She has never been to school but has a wonderful voice. She makes a living for her family by singing at large gatherings close to the Thai-Burmese border. Via Bangkok Post

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