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He cried for a week when his parents left him. It was for his own good. For as long as it'd last.

Rufino Santiz Díaz was in the sixth grade when his parents left him in the care of his older siblings. He understood that they did it out of love and hope for his future. But no one could have predicted the tough choices he'd eventually have to make.

He cried for a week when his parents left him. It was for his own good. For as long as it'd last.
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Open Society Foundations

Imagine not having a country to call home and your life being in limbo because of decisions you didn't even make. It sounds like a bad dream, but that's living for Rufino and a lot of other people who are being let down by the U.S.'s weirdly anti-immigrant policies.

I say "weirdly" because it is. It's weird that a country built by immigrants has become one that turns them away by the millions. It's especially weird when you consider that the U.S. plays a big role in foreign policy that makes people come here in the first place.


Something we can all do to help is to stop viewing immigration as a political issue — it makes politicians act like idiots. Immigration policy is a matter of human rights. Despite their own complicity in human rights abuses — *ahem* slavery even the founding fathers of the U.S. seemed to know that.

And for folks like Rufino, the faster we recapture that idea, the better.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.