Heroes

Her job didn't exist before. Now it's changing her whole town.

Water seems simple enough ... except when you don't have it.

Her job didn't exist before. Now it's changing her whole town.
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TOMS

One of life's most basic needs can be quite the pain.

I know it might be hard to relate to, but it's a big deal: There are 750 million people in the world who lack access to clean water — more than double the population of the United States. That's too many!

It's forcing people to travel long distances (we're talking miles ... on foot) to locate the nearest water supply. And dare I mention the part where they have to carry all the water back home? Talk about a love/hate relationship.


But what if you can turn it into a job?

With support from the European Union, a water supply and sanitation project is in full force in Blantyre, Malawi. Community members (especially women) are being taught how to operate water kiosks, read water meters, and quantify units of water consumed. And they're getting paid for it. Yay, business!

It's a victory in many ways, especially as more communities can use Blantyre's success as an example for their own work.

The benefits are big time.

One employee is happy to share all the best parts.

That last one = yessssss. *Insert happy dance*

Just in time for World Water Day.


And one more thing...

On March 22, 2015, Upworthy, TOMS Roasting Co., and the United Nations partnered for an #UpChat all about accessible water, sanitation, and sustainable solutions.

Click here for a handy recap of the chat.

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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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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