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Afghan translator who saved the lives of five American troops becomes a U.S. citizen

For some people, every day is Independence Day. For Janis Shinwari, this will be his first 4th of July as an American citizen. And boy, he earned it.

"If I was in Afghanistan—if I didn't come here, I wouldn't be alive now. I would be dead." Shinwari told CNN Heroes in 2018. Shinwari risked his life for nine years serving as a translator for U.S. forces in his native country of Afghanistan. He risked his life everyday knowing that should he be caught by the Taliban, the consequences would be severe. "If the Taliban catch you, they will torture you in front of your kids and families and make a film of you." Shinwari said. "Then [they'll] send it to other translators as a warning message to stop working with the American forces."


But his bravery didn't stop there. Just ask Captain Matt Zeller. During a routine patrol near the small village of Waghez, Zeller's unit was attacked by the Taliban. They were both out numbered and out gunned. Zeller found himself in a ditch after losing consciousness from a mortar explosion. As he slowly started gaining back his consciousness, he accepted the reality that he was probably going lose his life. He had no idea how close he really was. Unbeknownst to him, there were two Taliban fighters approaching him. Then gun fire came from the bushes killing them both. The blasts came from the gun of Janis Shinwari.

"I was going to make sort of peace with my fate and I was going to go out fighting," Zeller told CNN. That was when he found Shinwari standing above him uttering the words, "I am Janis and I am one of your translators. You are not safe." Even though they had just met days prior, it was the beginning of an unbreakable bond. "Since that time, we become even closer than brothers," Shinwari explained to CNN.

After the incident, the Taliban put Shinwari on a hit list along with other translators working with the United States military. He reached out to Zeller with hopes of getting a visa to be able to come to America. Shinwari, with a bounty on his head, was hoping the process would take months, but it took years instead. It was not for lack of effort from the man who's life he saved. Zeller knew he owed Shinwari his life and was determined to help get him to the United States.

"I just basically asked anyone who would listen, 'Will you help me? I owe this person my life. I'm willing to do whatever it takes. I will cash in and call in whatever favor. I will owe whatever it is that I need to owe. Tell me what it is that I need to do to get you to help me,'" Zeller told CNN. Then in 2013 it happened. Janis Shinwari obtained a visa and his family were finally headed to America.

As soon as Shinwari and his family arrived in America, the country they now call home, Zeller helped them find a car, a job and even started a GoFundMe page that raised over $35,000 to make sure their transition to the U.S. was a smooth one. But Shinwari couldn't stop thinking about the other translators back in Afghanistan putting their lives on the line for U.S. soldiers.

The two men with an inseparable bond started No One Left Behind, which is a non-profit to help get translators working for the U.S. military a safe haven in America. "We are happy. But I'm not happy about my coworkers, about my brothers and sisters that served the US government in Afghanistan and Iraq, and they are still left behind," Shinwari said. "I will fight for them, to get them here. And we will not stop fighting. It doesn't matter how long does it take. But I will fight for them."

So far the group has come to the aid of over 5,000 translators and their families to navigate the visa process to the United States. They offer support including permanent housing, furniture, employment and language skills. Shinwari adds, "I will not stop fighting until I get the last translator what's left behind. I promise them that I will never forget about my brothers and sisters that they are still left behind in Iraq and Afghanistan."

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

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