He returned from the war to find most everything gone except for this one musical instrument.

When Medhat Al-Emawi returned from the war in Syria, his Gaza home had been destroyed.

As he picked through the ruins to see what could be saved, he found something surprising. A video from AJ+ tells his story.


His qanun zither — the video spells it “qannon" — had somehow survived.

Distress over the war in Syria had been keeping the Syrian-born 19-year-old from playing the zither much before he left. But now, pulling notes from the instrument struck a profound chord inside.

It wasn't something literal or even explainable, but the ancient sound and sensation of playing his zither took him out of the ruins to a stronger place.

It made him feel like maybe there was a way back.


And so he plays and plays, each note sending up a clear message from the rubble that “I'm still here — we're still here" to anyone making the mistake of thinking that war had broken, or silenced, his spirit.

Bet you're eager to hear his music.

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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.