THE POWER OF KIND­NESS

9 Re­mark­able Sto­ries

Reader's Digest (Canada) - - Front Page - BY RE­BECCA TUCKER

To Save a River UP­PER LAHAVE, N.S.

In this era of en­vi­ron­men­tal crises, it’s per­haps not sur­pris­ing that Stella Bowles found one in her own back­yard. What is unique is her de­ter­mi­na­tion to do some­thing about it.

The 100-kilo­me­tre LaHave River runs from An­napo­lis County to the At­lantic and passes through Stella’s com­mu­nity of Up­per LaHave, on Nova Sco­tia’s South Shore. Back in 2015, the pretty wa­ter­way was deemed by many lo­cals as un­fit for swim­ming, but Stella wanted to know why. The then 11-year-old was dis­tressed to learn what was caus­ing the pol­lu­tion: raw sewage be­ing dumped di­rectly into the wa­ter by hun­dreds of her neigh­bours.

“I was dis­gusted,” Stella says, when she found out 600 homes were us­ing straight-pipes to pump waste from toi­let to river with­out any fil­tra­tion. She de­cided to look into the prob­lem for her Grade 6 sci­ence project. With the

men­tor­ship of a re­tired lo­cal physi­cian, Stella learned how to test the wa­ter in the LaHave. Her re­sults showed fe­cal con­tam­i­na­tion above Health Canada guide­lines, and the project would go on to earn a sil­ver medal at a cross-Canada sci­ence fair in 2017. But lo­cals were boat­ing on the river with­out know­ing they were be­ing ex­posed to po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous bac­te­ria, viruses and par­a­sites.

With the help of her mother, An­drea Con­rad, Stella be­gan to raise aware­ness about the LaHave’s con­tam­i­na­tion prob­lem. Soon she was mak­ing lo­cal head­lines and lob­by­ing politi­cians. In spring 2017, the mu­nic­i­pal, pro­vin­cial and fed­eral gov­ern­ments agreed to elim­i­nate all straight-pipes in Nova Sco­tia by 2023.

The LaHave still isn’t safe for swim­ming, but it should be safe for the sixth graders of Up­per LaHave’s fu­ture. Stella, now 14, con­tin­ues to press for more strin­gent rules to pro­tect the river and this year trav­elled around her prov­ince to teach other kids how to test their lo­cal wa­ter­ways and ad­vo­cate for bet­ter stew­ard­ship.

In Au­gust, Stella’s on­go­ing work earned her an In­ter­na­tional EcoHero Award, which rec­og­nizes the ef­forts of en­vi­ron­men­tal youth ac­tivists. “I never thought I’d be where I am to­day be­cause of a sci­ence fair project,” says Stella, who is con­tem­plat­ing a ca­reer in en­vi­ron­men­tal law.

Car­ing in a Cri­sis FRED­ER­IC­TON

Abrahim Ka­mara can’t talk about what he saw the morn­ing of Fe­bru­ary 10. He can only say that he was in the park­ing lot of his apart­ment build­ing in Fred­er­ic­ton to load his car when a shooter opened fire, killing po­lice of­fi­cers Robb Costello and Sara Burns, and civil­ians Bob­bie Lee Wright and her boyfriend, Don­nie Ro­bichaud.

Sin­gle dad Ka­mara and his 13-yearold son, Ay­ouba, sought refuge back in their apart­ment. When po­lice ar­rived to tell them ev­ery­thing was okay, Ay­ouba was cow­er­ing on the floor. The duo was evac­u­ated to safety, but the teen was too afraid to re­turn to his new home. The pair ar­rived in Canada in Au­gust 2017 after es­cap­ing war-torn Liberia and spend­ing 12 years in a refugee camp.

That day, when Ka­mara didn’t re­port for work at the York Care Cen­tre, a re­tire­ment res­i­dence, his col­leagues learned that he’d wit­nessed the shoot­ing. “We needed to do the right thing to get him through this,” says Tim Boone, a man­ager at the home.

The team of­fered Ka­mara and Ay­ouba the use of one of the cen­tre’s 103 apart­ment units, as well as pro­vid­ing some food, cloth­ing and per­sonal-care items. Boone also helped ne­go­ti­ate an in­sur­ance claim for Ka­mara’s Ford Tau­rus,

which had been

da­m­aged by an ar­moured ve­hi­cle at the crime scene.

“They came to my res­cue,” Ka­mara says. “It was not easy. I feel so much closer to my co-work­ers now. And my son and I can once again feel happy and free.”

The Town That Farms To­gether MILE­STONE, SASK.

With a pop­u­la­tion of just un­der 700, Mile­stone is the kind of place where the mayor knows your name—and your phone num­ber.

On Au­gust 18, Mayor Jeff Brown learned that Brian Williams, one of his con­stituents, had died after a brief ill­ness. The farmer had left be­hind a wife, three sons and about 640 acres of un­har­vested du­rum wheat.

“Mid-Au­gust is go time for crops,” says Brown, him­self a farmer. “And if a fam­ily is in need, the com­mu­nity pulls to­gether.” He sent out a text to 10 or so lo­cals, ask­ing them to pitch in to help the griev­ing fam­ily. Word spread from there.

The next day, 20 farm­ers and their com­bines ar­rived at the Williams’ farm and com­pleted the har­vest. It took about three hours for them to do what would have taken the Williams sons sev­eral days. “Years ago, when the farm­ing ma­chines weren’t so big, fam­i­lies would get to­gether more to help out like this,” says Brown. “It’s in our DNA.”

A Road­side An­gel CAL­GARY

On Au­gust 5 just after 7:30 p.m., Mike Estepa suf­fered a mas­sive heart at­tack. The fer­vent cy­clist was 40 kilo­me­tres into his Sun­day ride when he stopped by the side of the road to text his fam­ily say­ing he’d be home in about 30 min­utes. Mo­ments later, he was ly­ing in the ditch, un­con­scious.

Larissa Arthur was driv­ing back to Cal­gary from a hike in Field, B.C., with a friend. It was a warm and sunny day, and the two were chat­ting when a flash of yel­low caught Arthur’s eye. She im­me­di­ately pulled off the road.

As Arthur ap­proached the fig­ure, she feared the worst: Estepa was cov­ered in ants and ex­hib­ited no signs of life.

“There was no pulse, and he wasn’t breath­ing,” says Arthur. A by­stander called 911 and Arthur, a reg­is­tered nurse, started chest com­pres­sions.

She and two other driv­ers took turns ad­min­is­ter­ing CPR for the next 15 min­utes be­fore paramedics ar­rived and whisked Estepa away.

Two days later, when Estepa woke up in the hos­pi­tal, he was stunned to learn he had gone into car­diac ar­rest. How did this hap­pen, and why was he lucky enough to have sur­vived? He needed to speak with the woman who had saved him, whom he dubbed his “an­gel.”

“It was emo­tional,” says Arthur of her meet­ing with Estepa a few weeks later. Sav­ing his life has ex­tra sig­nif­i­cance for her: the trek she was re­turn­ing from that day was one of 100 she’s planned to com­mem­o­rate her fa­ther, who died in 2017 after he fell dur­ing a hike that Arthur was meant to be on. “I couldn’t save my fa­ther’s life,” Arthur says, “but this was a chance for me to save some­one.”

Fox on the Rocks ST. LEWIS, N.L.

One morn­ing in June, three crab fish­ers from St. Lewis hap­pened upon an un­usual sight at sea: an Arc­tic fox. The un­for­tu­nate crea­ture was stuck atop a mush­room-shaped ice­berg, around seven kilo­me­tres from shore.

Mal­lory Harrigan, Alan Rus­sell and his dad, Cliff Rus­sell, set about res­cu­ing the dis­tressed an­i­mal, but they couldn’t get the boat close enough to reach him. Their only choice was to use the ves­sel to smash the ice­berg and then scoop the fox out of the wa­ter with a long­han­dled net. The op­er­a­tion was a suc­cess: the shiv­er­ing an­i­mal was dried off and fed a meal of Vi­enna sausages.

Back on land, the crew kept the crea­ture in a dog ken­nel for a cou­ple days, en­sur­ing he was in good health, be­fore re­leas­ing him. Since then, his sil­ver sil­hou­ette has been spot­ted once or twice around nearby Wil­liam’s Har­bour, look­ing fit as, well, a fox.

A Cam­paign for Com­pas­sion RIVERVIEW, N.B.

Two years ago, when she was 17 years old, Re­becca Schofield was told her brain tu­mours were in­op­er­a­ble and she had only months to live. For­go­ing math class was one item on the bucket list she drew up, as were play­ing board games with fam­ily, en­joy­ing her favourite meals (her dad’s mac and cheese among them) and a wish to en­cour­age peo­ple to do kind things.

Becca shared her idea on Face­book: she wasn’t ask­ing for big ges­tures, just small, ran­dom acts of kind­ness that

might brighten some­one else’s day. Thou­sands of peo­ple took up the call, post­ing sto­ries with the hash­tag #Bec­ca­told­meto about open­ing doors, buy­ing cof­fee for strangers, giv­ing out gra­nola bars at the gym.

Becca Schofield died on Fe­bru­ary 17 at the age of 18, but #Bec­ca­told­meto con­tin­ues to flour­ish. “Ev­ery day I’m re­minded of her legacy,” her mother, Anne Schofield, says.

Hero on the High­way TORONTO

In his 32 years as a truck driver, Frank Vieira es­ti­mates he’s cov­ered nearly 10 mil­lion kilo­me­tres with­out in­ci­dent. On the morn­ing of Au­gust 24, 2017, his drive from Toronto to Hamil­ton shifted gears when he heard a loud crash. The 48-year-old pulled his rig over to find that an SUV had smashed into the back of a truck stopped in traf­fic go­ing the op­po­site di­rec­tion.

When he ap­proached the SUV, he saw the driver’s neck had been pierced with a bro­ken frag­ment of steer­ing wheel. With his right hand, Vieira quickly pulled out his phone and di­alled 911; with his left, he ap­plied pres­sure di­rectly to the driver’s neck to stem the bleed­ing. Mo­ments later, the driver of the rear-ended truck walked over to see what had hap­pened— and im­me­di­ately fainted. With his hand still on the first man’s neck, Vieira used his foot to pull the sec­ond man’s leg safely away from on­com­ing traf­fic.

In March, Vieira re­ceived the Goodyear High­way Hero Award for his life­sav­ing jug­gling act, but he re­mains prag­matic about his role: “I was just in the right place at the right time.”

Ex­pand­ing Sup­port for Women MON­TREAL

When An­drew Harper, 95, was look­ing to be­stow a char­i­ta­ble do­na­tion, he wanted to make his late wife, Ca­role, proud and to ad­dress Mon­treal’s es­ca­lat­ing poverty rates. In May, he chose Chez Doris, a lo­cal day shel­ter that pro­vides vi­tal ser­vices—meals, cloth­ing, show­ers and var­i­ous ed­u­ca­tional, le­gal and health pro­grams—

for women in vul­ner­a­ble sit­u­a­tions. Harper’s un­ex­pected gift of $1 mil­lion is not only the largest in the non-profit’s 41-year his­tory; it’s a game changer.

“A do­na­tion of this scale is com­mon for a univer­sity or a hos­pi­tal, but not for a poverty-re­lief or­ga­ni­za­tion,” says Chez Doris ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Ma­rina Bou­los-Win­ton.

She notes that there are only 70 to 110 emer­gency beds in Mon­treal avail­able to women, who make up a quar­ter of the city’s home­less pop­u­la­tion. With the help of Harper’s do­na­tion, Chez Doris has pur­chased a new build­ing, al­low­ing them to ex­pand their ef­forts and of­fer 20 emer­gency beds. BoulosWin­ton es­ti­mates Harper’s do­na­tion will pro­vide refuge to 300 women ev­ery year.

Res­cued From the Tracks TORONTO

Kyle Busquine isn’t usu­ally on the sub­way at 3 p.m., but on June 28 he’d fin­ished his land­scap­ing job a lit­tle early and was headed east, to­ward his home in Scar­bor­ough, when the train stopped abruptly at Broad­view sta­tion.

Busquine, 24, poked his head out the door to check what was caus­ing the de­lay. That’s when he spot­ted a vis­ually im­paired man who had fallen onto the west­bound tracks and was cry­ing for help. “I could hear him say­ing he was in­jured, so for me it was just pure adrenalin,” he says. He jumped down onto the tracks to help.

Once he reached the fallen man, who ap­peared to have bro­ken his leg, Busquine quickly re­al­ized he wouldn’t be able to lift him by him­self with­out in­jur­ing him fur­ther. Luck­ily, two other by­standers—Julio Cabr­era, who works for the city as a ferry deck­hand, and en­gi­neer­ing grad­u­ate Je­hangir Faisal—re­al­ized the same thing and joined Busquine in hoist­ing the man to safety on the plat­form, where TTC of­fi­cials took over his care.

Later that day, Julie Caniglia, who wit­nessed the rapid-re­sponse res­cue, de­scribed the events on Face­book. The post has been shared al­most 60,000 times and re­ceived over 7,000 com­ments, in­clud­ing this one: “Cana­di­ans do help one an­other. These are the he­roes we should be hear­ing about. God bless you.”

HOW STELLA BOWLES SAVED A RIVER

Abrahim Ka­mara

A team ef­fort at the Williams’farm, Au­gust 19, 2018.

The way­ward Arc­tic fox be­fore and after his res­cue.

Becca Schofield sit­ting with herdog, Benny, June 20, 2017.

From left: Kyle Busquine, Je­hangir Faisal and Julio Cabr­era, on July 10, 2018.

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