Good News Thursday: Cafe offers free coffee and conversations, dancing inspires hope


Free cafe in Australia boosts community moral

Rick Everett offers free coffee, pastries, and conversations from his window in Sydney, Australia. (Rick Everett via AP)

As everyone headed inside to quarantine, one man opened his window in an effort to connect with his neighbors. His method: free coffee and pastries in exchange for a conversation. The cafe has now expanded into a community herb garden and recently a food pantry located right outside his home.

Rick Everett was working as an acrobat in Sydney, Australia prior to the pandemic. When he was laid off, he decided to use his knowledge from past jobs managing both a coffee and pizza shop to bring his neighborhood together, despite having to social distance. Everett began the project as a way to connect with the community, an often difficult task in a big city.

The response to his project was overwhelmingly positive, with neighbors stopping by with free goods of their own, or stopping just to chat. The topics of conversation are typically light and positive, often with Everett getting the ball rolling by asking about his neighbor’s pets. For him, this is a small way he can contribute during the pandemic. “I’ve received as much back as I give. There’s no doubt about that… they’re all things that are easy for me. They don’t cost me a lot of money, but they can help in some tiny, little way,” Everett told the Associated Press. 

Giant rat wins prestigious animal award

Magama the giant rat sniffs out landmines in Cambodia. The heroic rodent was awarded with a British charity’s top civilian award for animal bravery. (PDSA via AP)

A giant rat may not be the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of a hero, maybe not even the second. But Magawa, a Cambodian land mine sniffer, was awarded British charity’s top civilian award for animal bravery for his work in the field. The PDSA awarded Magawa for seven years of detecting unexploded landmines. He cleared 141,000 square meters of land, about 20 football fields, finding 39 landmines and 28 items of unexploded ordnance. 

Unexploded landmines are an issue for over 60 million people in 59 countries, killing or injuring 6,897 people in 2018 according to APOPO, the nonprofit that trains rats like Magawa. Giant rats are used because their size does not trigger landmines, making detection much quicker. Magawa is the first rat to be awarded by the PDSA. APOPO chief executive Christophe Cox described Magawa’s award as an honor “for our animal trainers,” and for Cambodia. “It is big for the people in Cambodia and all the people around the world who are suffering from landmines. The PDSA Gold Medal award brings the problem of landmines to global attention,” Cox told the Associated Press. 

“Jerusalema” sparks hope through song and dance

A group dances to “Jerusalema” on South Africa’s Heritage day. “Jerusalema” is inspiring hope through South Africa (AP Phot/Jerome Delay)

South Africans are responding to the pandemic by dancing to the hit song “Jerusalema.” A line dance that goes with the song has gone viral and now people are dancing along as a way to rally together as the fight against the coronavirus persists. Its popularity has grown internationally with health care workers, lawyers, teachers, students and supermarket workers across southern Africa and the world dancing to “Jerusalema.” Even the president of South Africa noted the song as a great exemplar of how South Africans choose to lift their spirits even amidst trials.

The song is by popular DJ Master KG with vocals by Nomcebo Zikode. Released last year, the song was a hit. Now with the new line dance and the pandemic, listeners are applying the song as a way to keep hope. Master KG is thrilled with the song’s success and is grateful that his work spurs this response.

Couple wins dance competition in honor of late daughter

Fabio Rodolfo Vasquez and his wife, Maria Moreno, dance at an event outside a coffee shop in Guatemala City. The couple has gone viral after entering a dance competition in honor of their late daughter. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

After Jenifer Vásquez, 32, unexpectedly passed in June, her parents were left to grieve in a world already stricken by a pandemic. As a way to lift their spirits after her death, Fabio Rodolfo Vásquez and Maria Moreno decided to enter a dance competition on social media. The two danced throughout their marriage, having met at a club over 30 years ago and winning a dance contest that night. After submitting their video, the couple was met with an abundance of praise, going viral and winning the competition.

The public’s response has been positive as well. Not only have people found their video and dance moves uplifting, but the couple is also receiving support from their community. A restaurant offered free chicken for a year and a local grocery store offered free milk and other groceries; they are even being booked by local venues and restaurants to perform.

Though the couple did not enter the contest with the intention to receive gifts or praise, they are grateful for the community outreach and that they were able to help their community as well. “My dad used to say that music uplifted the spirit and made you feel young. You can be old, your skin all wrinkled up, but being young is within you, and music can revive you,” Vásquez told the Associated Press.

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