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Personalities 01 December 2017 48 2293
Thousands of indigenous Brazilians live in remote villages scattered along the Amazon River with no access to modern medical care. Government support is scarce. But now, one of the country’s top neurosurgeons, Erik Jennings, has taken it upon himself to fill this gap. His family has lived on the Amazon for generations, and he pays ‘house calls’ to these isolated tribes out of a sense of affinity with the native peoples that live in the rainforests along the river.
John Jairo Velásquez Vásquez, a.k.a. ‘Popeye’ is something of a local hero to many in the Colombian city of Medellin. He’s stopped in the streets and asked for autographs and selfies. His celebrity is undiminished after spending 23 years in jail. In the heyday of the infamous Medellin drug cartel, he worked for Pablo Escobar as a hit-man, he still says he enjoyed the job in which he tortured and murdered literally hundreds and so, not everyone sees him as a hero.
People on the streets of Kabul call Abbas Alizada the “Afghan Bruce Lee.” After his striking resemblance to the Chinese martial arts icon made him a social media star, he took a year to work on himself and become even more like his hero. His makeover was a smashing success. Today, Abbas uses his celebrity to inspire other young Afghan athletes, but fame has come with a price – he now must be wary every time he leaves his house.
18-year-old Esteban Quispe Churata became world-famous as the “Bolivian Wall-E”. He is a self-taught robot maker who scours municipal dumps and flea markets to recycles e-waste for his inventive creations, many of which are inspired by movies.
Scott Neeson was a president at 20th Century Fox International and was bent on continuing his career with Sony Pictures. But a trip to Cambodia and what he saw on the Steung Meanchey garbage dump turned his life upside down. Scott returned to Phnom Penh and set up the Cambodian Children’s Fund. Now he supports over 2,000 families by sending kids to school, providing parents with employment, paying hospital bills, and feeding those unable to earn money.
In Russia, every schoolchild knows the name of Aleksey Maresyev. The legendary WWII fighter pilot’s heroic story was retold in a 1948 book, “The story of a real man”. After his plane was shot down by Nazi fire, he survived in the Russian wilderness for 18 days with broken legs and found his way to safety. Despite losing both legs in hospital, he still convinced doctors and military commanders that he should continue to fly. His example helped many who might otherwise have given up, some handicapped pilots say it inspired them to survive and continue with their careers.
A stranger in his homeland and a stranger in his adopted country, a former Soviet soldier had to stay in Afghanistan for 29 years after being captured by the Mujahideen and made to fight on the side of his country's enemy. In this film, he finally comes back to his native land, but is he welcomed?
The distinguishing features of Russia's elite Spetsnaz soldiers include their maroon berets, unparalleled physical fitness and ability to make the right decisions at lightning speed. Evgeny Epov was one such soldier; he made the ultimate sacrifice and saved the lives of several of his comrades.