We all love to watch movies about well-known made-up heroes, but in real life, true heroes look just like the rest of us. They are a part of us and share only one super power – their goodness and kindness. Their remarkable deeds and acts of bravery show us that we all have this superpower at our disposal, if only we would use it!
The Saint of Bailovo
Source: Paul’s Removals Melbourne
From Sofia to Melbourne, London and New York, the story of this generous man literally travelled the world in the past year. Dobry Dobrev is a Bulgarian man, born on the 20th of July 1914 and is now 101 years-old (well any day now). After suffering a number of traumas throughout his life the death of his father during World War I and the loss of his own hearing due to a bomb falling near him in World War II, Dobry, became estranged to his wife, preferred to spend time in churches and monasteries. A few years later he decided to detach himself of all things material and donated all his money, most of his furniture and other belongings to the Bulgarian Orthodox church. His relatives couldn`t understand him and even now are definitely on a different page. Dobry Dobrev was soon moved out of his family house. At present he lives a modest life 47 km (29 mi) away from Sofia (the capital city of Bulgaria), in a small extension of the Baylovo’s orthodox church. Until recently he used to walk to the capital everyday (summer or winter), and sits in front of the magnificent st. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral to beg, wearing nothing but his home-made clothes.
What makes this remarkable man a hero, and according to many a modern day saint, is the fact that he donates every penny he receives to churches and orphanages. He has collected and donated more than 50,000 (~ $68,000), while he is living off his monthly pension of 80 a month and the kindness of other people, who would drop off food and wooden logs to his place so he can keep warm and have something to eat. When offered more furniture, money, clothes, shoes or items, he refuses without thinking twice. Dobry makes his own clothes and leather shoes and claims this is all he needs. Even though he is now under the spotlight and is being talked and written about (even a movie had been made in his honour), he keeps mostly to himself and his work.
In his long, generous and selfless life, Dobry Dobrev has become Alexander Nevsky Cathedral’s largest giver since the last Bulgarian king, yet he has removed himself from the bliss and glamour.
This goes out to the ‘Christian warrior’ who welcomes and bows before everyone, saying goodbye with the words: ‘Rejoice in the Lord!’
A Geography Lesson Well Learned
Thousands of people will always remember the Asian Tsunami of 2014, caused by an earthquake in the Indian Ocean, that ultimately took the lives of 200,000 people in thirteen countries. This should come as no surprise since the earthquake had the energy of 23,000 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs. On a small beach in Phucket, Thailand however, there wasn’t a single victim that day, all thanks to one 10-year-old girl who paid attention in geography class and gave death the finger. Little Tilly Smith was on a vacation with her parents in Phucket when she noticed something odd in the waters of Maikho beach. The water was all ‘bubbly’ and was receding with each wave. Tilly spotted the pattern and remembered learning all about tsunamis in class two weeks earlier, when her teacher Andrew Kearney showed the classroom a video of the phenomenon. Tilly told her parents that this was a sign of a tsunami and didn’t quit trying to convince them until they left the beach. At first no one believed her, but her parents became more and more convinced as they saw how spooked Tilly was. She admitted feeling hysteric and was screaming: ‘Seriously, there is definitely going to be a tsunami!’. Convinced, her father warned a member of staff and as a result more than 100 people fled the beach. There were no reported casualties that day – not on Tilly’s beach, anyway.
10 years later Tilly returns to that very same beach
Source: Dan Charity
The little girl herself received recognition and a few awards among which the Thomas Gray Special Award of The Marine Society & Sea Cadets from Second Sea Lord, Vice-Admiral Sir James Burnell-Nugent. Tilly was also named ‘Child of the Year’ by the French magazine Mon Quotidien and the Asteroid 20002 was also named after her. She is the living example that paying attention in class could save lives because you never know when you might need the acquired knowledge.
Operation Auca Missionarries
Martyrs to the Spear
Speaking of bravery we ought to mention the five Christian missionaries who left their homes to bring the Good News to the Huaorani people in Ecuador. The Huaorani people were famous for their intense violence both against their own people and the outsiders. The tribe as well as the neighbouring tribes were notorious for their odd rituals, vengeance killing and constant attacks on each other. As a part of their burial traditions a man was often buried with his children, so they can’t avenge him, as their duty commands. When the five missionaries – Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming, and Roger Youderian went to bring the Gospel to the people in the region, they were brutally attacked and speared. What makes them heroes in the eyes of Christians all over the world is the fact that they could’ve protected themselves with their guns, but instead wanted to show the Huaorani people they come in peace. Their death paved the way for the widow of Jim Elliot, Elisabeth, and Rachel Saint (Nate’s sister) to continue the the mission of their fallen loved ones. It is hard to say who the real heroes of this story are. Undoubtedly, the five missionaries showed tremendous courage and power of will in the face of this God-sent ordeal, however Elizabeth and Rachel were the ones who really managed to show grace and be an example to the Huaorani people. On their arrival at the final resting place of their family members, instead of acting violently and belligerent towards the murderers, they showed love and kindness. This noble deed caused many to convert, thus eliminating tribal violence in the area for good.
Railway To Freedom
Source: Library of Congress
Harriet Tubman (born: Aramintha Ross) was an African-American abolitionist, who was born to enslaved parents. Her early life was marked by the horrible reality of slavery along with the daily emotional and physical violence which inevitably followed. She was lashed and beaten so brutally, she wore the scars till she died in 1913. She was supposedly just a teenager/young woman when she was hit with a two-pound weight to the head, suffering narcoleptic seizures as a consequence. According to sources, after this incident, in 1849 Minty managed to escape with two of her brothers. She married a free black man and changed her name to Harriet, probably to honour her mother Harriet Ross. It was then when her humanitarian work began. Instead of living a safe and quiet life as a free woman, Tubman made it her mission to rescue slaves and help relocate them up north, where they would be safe and free. In one ocassion she managed to rescue her parents and 60 other people, earning herself, quite appropriately, the nickname ‘Moses’. She smuggled hundreds via the so called Underground Railroad and organized their passage to freedom.
Furthermore, Tubman actively participated in the Civil War, becoming the first woman to lead an armed expedition. The expedition itself was a success and as a result more than 700 slaves were freed. She also contributed to the war effort by spying for the Union. A statue in her honour was erected in Harlem in 2007 with some quotes on it, including the widely recognized, Exodus quote ‘Let my people go’. She died at the age of 91. Harsh but meaningful and long life, lived with courage and dignity.
Sir Nicholas Winton
The Power of Good
This humble man saved 669 Jewish children from Czechoslovakia and smuggled them safe and sound to the United Kingdom. Each of these children was destined to be transported to the nearest death camp, but instead Winton relocated every one of them to a loving home. For years Sir Winton kept quiet about it all, until one day his wife stumbled upon a list of the names and addresses of all the kids while moving furniture around. She then submitted it to the BBC and they in turn arranged a truly heart-warming meeting where Sir Winton found himself in a theatre room full of the people who owed him their lives.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_nFuJAF5F0There are several notable names among those he saved: Alfred and Baron Dubs, Karel Reisz, Joe Schlesinger, Renata Laxova, Hugo Marom and Heini Halberstam. Sir Nicholas is now in possession of more than six awards, was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II (in 1983) and is a celebrated humanitarian, nominated for a Nobel Prize for Peace (2008).
A very curious fact about this great hero, is that he was born on May 19th 1909 and passed just a few weeks ago on the 1st of July 2015 at the age of 105.
A long and meaningful life proving that not all good heroes die young!
May his legacy live forever!