Good News Thursday: Charity revitalized after COVID, Romanian architecture revamps

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Charity restarts after COVID restrictions lift

Elissa Montanti, founder and director of The Global Medical Relief Fund, greets Mwigulu Matonange along with three other albino children from Tanzania as they arrive at JFK International Airport. As restrictions have begun lifting across the country, Montanti is bringing her charity back to life. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Elissa Montanti was anxious to get back to charity after the pandemic put her organization on hold for the past year. As founder and director of The Global Medical Relief Fund, she has facilitated the rehabilitation of 450 kids needing medical care in the U.S. After months of waiting, international borders began to reopen and Montanti got back to work.

She greeted four Tanzanian children with albinism at the JFK airport with open arms, ready to give them the care they needed. In Tanzania some people believe those with albinism have mystic abilities in their bodies, making them targets to machete attacks. The four children Montanti took in all suffered from limb loss because of attacks. While in the U.S., they were fitted for prosthetics and received a COVID-19 vaccine.

Despite the numerous kids she has helped, Montanti still treats every child that makes their way to her with love. “When the kids are in that house, it brings me so much joy,” Montanti told the Associated Press. “There, they are not numbers.”

High school seniors donate money to charity

Islesboro Central School seniors prepare to toss their mortarboards to celebrate graduation. The class of 2021 – all 13 of them – were eyeing a trip to Greece, or maybe South Korea, but they wound up going nowhere. The seniors decided to donate $5,000 to help out struggling neighbors after the coronavirus pandemic changed everything. (Melissa Burns via AP)

Every year high school seniors at Islesboro Central School in Maine take a trip across the world; classes in the past have gone to places like Paris and Rome. The 13 students in the class of 2021 had their sites on Greece or South Korea, but considering the state of the world around them they decided to use the travel money they raised for donations instead. The students raised over $8,000 in different fundraisers over the course of the school year. They already donated $5,000 to their neighboring community to aid those struggling from COVID-19, much of it going to the Island Community Fund.

“When everything settled down, there was a strong sense of pride in these students. That’s because their decision demonstrated an awareness of the hardship in their community and a willingness to do something about it,” Fred Thomas, president of the Islesboro Community Fund said. “They learned that giving is hard, but giving is good.”

Romanian architecture revamps

A man works on the roof of the dilapidated 16th-century Brukenthal Castle. Since it launched, Ambulance for Monuments has rescued 55 historical structures — from medieval churches to historic fortification walls, from old watermills to ancient UNESCO World Heritage Sites — from descending into complete ruin. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

A team of architects and volunteers is revamping and rescuing centuries-old Romanian monuments and architecture. The Ambulance for Monuments project was started by Eugen Vaida, who gathers volunteers to salvage any historical structure before it is too damaged for repairs. So far the organization has restored 55 different churches, walls, watermills and UNESCO World Heritage Sites and saved them from ruin. One of the initiative’s main supporters is Micasasa mayor Timotei Pacurar. The goal is for the country’s youth to still enjoy historical sites and not see them fall to ruin.

The plan for the Ambulance for Monuments is to continue to expand over the next five years. The projects currently cover about 60% of Romania and the group hopes to span across the whole territory, before the monuments’ histories deteriorate. “The future is in our hands, and we can change things,” Pacurar said. “We can make this building look good again — like a treasure for our community.”

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