They told him it was impossible. It took him a hammer, a chisel, and 22 years to prove them wrong.

Imagine you live in a small town.

And less than a mile away, there's another small town.


They have good schools. Good jobs. Good doctors. It's just kind of generally pretty nice. Everyone in your town goes there all the time.

The problem is there's this mountain in the way.


And even though it's less than a mile between your town and the neighboring town, you gotta walk 45 miles to get around the mountain. So most people just try and go over. It's painful. And dangerous.

One day, your wife is trying to get over the mountain, when she slips and falls. She's injured. It's not good. You realize this can't go on.

So what do you do?

You might try to secure a couple billion dollars in funding, then hire a bunch of contractors with backhoes, explosives, and one of those huge drilly things from the “Oceans Eleven" movies to blast a hole and lay down a sweet, shiny new highway.

(That comes in seven years late and $500 million over budget.)

The problem is, you live in a poor community in rural India.

You don't have billions of dollars, and you definitely don't have access to powerful politicians who can loan you that kind of cash. You only have your own two hands.

So how do you get a road through the mountain?

You grab a hammer and a chisel.

And start straight-up beasting your way through.

(Boom.)

Which is exactly what Dashrath Manjhi did.

(Note the captions under the play bar).

Everyone said he was crazy. No one believed he could do it.

But he did it. It took him 22 years, but he did it. Like a boss.

That's some Andy Dufresne-level badassery.

But, you know. Real life.

Manjhi passed away in 2007, but his friends continue his work to this day. They're elderly, and some of them are ill, but they haven't given up trying to make his vision of a better life for his community come true.

Their efforts might not be quite as ready-made for Hollywood. But they're just as important.

And just as Manjhi wanted to uplift his community by building a road, his successors are trying to push even further forward by making sure the next generation has the tools they need to get better jobs, earn a good, independent living, and succeed in life. Particularly the ones who need it most.

It's not a simple task, much like hammering a hole through a giant mountain. But every day, they make a little more progress.

In this way, Dashrath Manjhi is not gone.

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.