5 moments that gave us hope in 2020
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When we look back on the year 2020, most of us will recall a time of devastating loss and uncertainty. But amidst the pain and suffering of a global pandemic, there were still many impactful moments over the past 12 months that brought us joy and gave us hope for the future. Here are five of our favorites.

Real Life Hero

World Vision

Akhi, 17, was working as a child laborer in dangerous conditions in Bangladesh. After being removed from the situation with help from World Vision, she enrolled in one of their training programs that provided her with a sewing machine and taught her sewing skills. Wanting to find a way to give back during the COVID-19 outbreak, Akhi began sewing beautiful, colorful masks and selling them at affordable prices to poorer households in her community. Her work was even recognized by the U.N., who gave her a Real Life Hero award.

The Greatest Gift

World Vision

When the pandemic hit, schools were forced to close and students transitioned into remote learning. But for many without access to the right technology, the closure meant an interruption to their education. This was the case for Simon, a refugee from South Sudan who lives in the BidiBidi Refugee Camp in Uganda. To prevent his son from missing out, Simon's dad used what little money he had to buy a radio so Simon could tune into his lessons which had been transferred to the airwaves. "My Dad is my hero because he bought for me a radio in which I can study," Simon said.

Solidarity

World Vision

COVID-19 led to a desperate need for healthcare workers and medical equipment. In July, the Solidarity, World Vision's floating hospital, set sail for the Amazon. The team of doctors, nurses, and dentists on board were able to provide the remote communities in this region with necessary medical care, food packages, and information to help prevent the spread of the virus.

A Place to Call Home

Peter Mutabazi

Peter Mutabazi, 37, grew up in poverty in a village near the border of Uganda and Rwanda. He eventually migrated to America and got a job at World Vision, but decided he wanted to do more to help those in need, so he signed up to be a foster dad. Over the past three years, he's cared for 12 children, but one child in particular made an impact on his life. Anthony, 13, had been abandoned by his family at the age of two then again by a family who had taken him in. Peter and Anthony really hit it off when the two met and Peter decided to adopt the boy, which finally went through in March after two years. "Anthony is an amazing kid," Peter told Metro News.

Girl Power

World Vision

During lockdown, many people faced unprecedented financial pressure. For some parents, forcing their children into child marriages seemed like the only way to keep them fed and sheltered, according to World Vision India's Sandip Bhowmick.

World Vision's Girl Power groups in India aim to equip girls with necessary life skills, including personal safety, self-defense training, education, and legal awareness to avoid the threat of gender-based violence, trafficking, and child marriage. The girls then use what they learn to raise awareness and equip others with the same crucial knowledge. These skills were especially useful to help end the flux of child marriages happening at the height of the pandemic.

"In just one apartment block, our Girl Power group alerted us to nine imminent child marriages. The youngest case of child marriage was that of a fourteen-year-old girl. However, thanks to Girl Power, we were able to stop these marriages and work with the families to find a better solution to their difficulties," Bhowmick said.

Canva

Prior to European colonization of North America, millions of bison roamed the Great Plains. By the turn of the 20th century, those numbers had dropped to less than 1,000. The deliberate decimation of buffalo herds was a direct attack on the Native American people, who colonizers saw as an obstacle to their "Manifest Destiny," and who the U.S. government engaged in a systematic attempt to eliminate or force into docile submission.

For thousands of years, bison were a sacred, inseparable part of life for Indigenous tribes of the Great Plains, used for food, shelter, utensils, and clothing, in addition to spiritual and emotional well-being. Wiping out the bison population nearly wiped out the Native tribes they were connected to.

Though bison numbers have increased significantly thanks to conservation efforts, governments are still grappling with the ugly legacy, and some municipalities are taking steps to try to repair some of the damage done. As one example, the city of Denver, Colorado has taken the step of giving some of the city's bison population managed by Denver Parks and Recreation to Native American tribes engaged in bison conservation efforts.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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