Nigeria just got crossed off a list no country wants to be on. It's a huge win for us all.
True
Gates Foundation

In 2012, over half of the world's polio cases were in Nigeria.

But then something amazing happened.

This year, they've had ... zero.

A substantial drop to zero cases of polio in 2015. You do the math. That's incredible.


I know, right? GIF via "Full House."

As the country celebrates going an entire year without a single case of the crippling disease, the entire continent of Africa can too. Nigeria is the last of the African countries to suffer from it. That's huge! And it's huge for all of us — including you.

Think of the progress made: It wasn't that long ago polio was everywhere — including the U.S. — crippling hundreds of thousands of kids a year.

If you grew up in the U.S. in the 1950s, you lived in fear of this horrible disease cutting your healthy childhood short. Even as recently as 1988, polio was a devastating problem in 128 countries.

In 2014, there were three countries that hadn't eliminated polio: Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Go ahead and cross Nigeria off that list.

Maps via CDC.

How in the heck did they manage to get rid of it?

It wasn't magic, and it didn't come easy. Between misinformation, politics, and violence, there have been some major roadblocks in the past years.

It turns out when you have the resources and agree to work together, powerful things can happen — and more kids get a chance at a healthy life.

Kids being kids. Via Jeremy Weate/Flickr.

A recent joint effort between the Nigerian government, community members, religious leaders, and thousands of health workers with an awesome vaccination program helped kick polio to the curb.

Hopefully for good.

Vaccination programs and close monitoring helped make polio disappear in so many countries — and now in Nigeria too. We're on our way to completely eradicating it globally because of them.

But since the disease is contagious and can spread so fast, it'll take two more years of no polio cases in Nigeria for it to be declared completely polio-free. But hey, you gotta start somewhere. Cheers to Nigeria!

Next up: Pakistan and Afghanistan. There is work to be done — but it can be done.

Polio sucks. Image via CDC/Flickr.

There are entire generations of people who have never even had to consider polio.

There are people who have never known anyone with the disease or had to fear it themselves. They might not even understand the damage its caused all over the world — or how it works. (Ask Google or your grandma).

I can't wait until no one in the world has to think about polio anymore.

We're so close to eliminating polio from the earth! And when we do, it'll be one of the greatest achievements in our human history. It's going to be awesome.

True

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.