US doctor forgives $650,000 in medical bills for cancer patients

A US oncologist has wiped out nearly $650,000 worth of debts for 200 cancer patients after realising that many of them were struggling to pay.
Dr Omar Atiq closed his cancer treatment centre in Arkansas last year after nearly 30 years in business.
He worked with a debt collection firm to gather outstanding payments, but then realised many families had been hit hard financially by the pandemic.
Over Christmas, he wrote to patients telling them any debts would be erased.
“Over time I realised that there are people who just are unable to pay,”
Dr Atiq told ABC’s Good Morning America.
“So my wife and I, as a family, we thought about it and looked at forgiving all the debt. We saw that we could do it and then just went ahead and did it.”

Conjoined twins ‘learning to stand’ for Cardiff school

When they were born Marieme and Ndeye Ndiaye were not expected to live for more than a few days.
But the conjoined twins are now “learning to stand” and are settling into their new Cardiff school.
Now four, the girls, who have separate hearts and spines but share a liver, bladder and digestive system, are being introduced to a special frame which
gives them the experience of being upright.
At children’s hospice Ty Hafan in Sully, Vale of Glamorgan, the frame is being used to help build strength in their legs.
The hope is that the stand can be used while they are at school to allow them more freedom.

Covid: Old bikes given a new life for lockdown

There has been a surge in interest in the outdoors during the Covid pandemic, prompting a pair of cycling enthusiasts to breath new life into old, discarded
Beth Ward and Robin Hughes are turning unwanted bikes into electric powered cycles in Denbighshire.
They hope it will help encourage new riders to get fitter, for a fraction of the cost of a new e-bike.
The pair have now been hailed as “low carbon heroes” by the Welsh Government.
The two have set out to convert as many bikes as they can under the umbrella of their social enterprise business, called Drosi Bikes in Ruthin.
A play on the Welsh word trosi, for convert, the pair will even carry out the e-bike conversions at cost price – all people have to do is supply the bike.
Their inspiration was a four-month cycling holiday in Turkey.

Moscow metro hires women drivers after rule changes

Moscow’s metro says it has hired its first female train drivers since controversial rules banning women from certain jobs were lifted last year.

The city’s transport department welcomed “the [Moscow metro’s] first female electric train drivers” on Sunday, likening it to a new era.

Twelve women joined the network in the Russian capital on 1 January 2021.

Moscow’s metro stopped hiring women drivers in the early 1980s. The last female driver left the service in 2014.

The profession had been added to a list of jobs considered too physically demanding or dangerous for women to undertake.

However, it was removed from this list – along with jobs including lorry drivers and boat skippers – after much of the physical aspects of the role became automated.

In a joint statement on Sunday, the mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin, and the city’s transport department said 12 of 25 women joining the network had completed their training, received permits and were ready to “take the first passengers”.

Female drivers have the option of choosing the uniform they feel most comfortable in, depending on “what is more convenient for them to drive the train – in a skirt or in trousers”, the statement added.

India coronavirus: The mums who became pandemic chefs

king – and they were good at it too. But they only cooked for family and friends.
But everything changed for them in March when India’s coronavirus lockdown kept them at home with more time on their hands than ever before. And cooking
is how they chose to fill their days.
But soon they started cooking for others and as word spread, the stay-at-home mums realised that they had turned into chefs!
With restaurants closed and uncertainty in the air, Indians – like people everywhere else – turned to food for comfort. And home cooks such as Shalini
and Mrinali have discovered a new calling.

The K-pop inspired band that challenged gender norms in Kazakhstan

They made their debut as a boy band, expecting to create music and amass fans along the way – instead they were met with anger, protests and even threats.

They perform choreographed dance routines, addictive tunes and shockingly slick music videos – and no, we’re not talking about K-pop.
This is Q-pop, or Qazaq-pop – an up and coming pop genre in Kazakhstan, which all started with one band, Ninety One.
But the band has not only made a name for itself through its music.
It also made a huge statement when its five androgynous looking members – complete with long hair, guyliner and makeup, burst onto the scene in the deeply
conservative country – and challenged its gender norms.

Faith and spirituality in the time of Covid

Like many millennials, Ms Allard had not attended church in years. She went every Sunday as a child, but when she hit her teenage years, she lost interest.
Now, with nothing but time on her hands, she decided she would revisit her faith and see if she could find it a home. The pandemic had caused most churches
to go from in-person worship to online services, which made it easy for her to try out different denominations.
“I could just test different styles and figure out what fit best with me and my belief system and what made me feel the best,” she says.
One of those churches was the Meeting House, a protestant church that a friend had told her was “a church for people who don’t like church”.
“I happened to attend their Sunday service, and they were doing a four-part series on basically love, and the fact that Jesus is love, and that so resonated
with me, because I really believe that, and now more than ever do we really need love,” she says.

Covid: The Rhondda boy who climbed a mountain carrying potatoes

People devised many ways to avoid becoming couch potatoes during lockdown.
But few were as novel as actually carrying sacks of potatoes up a Rhondda mountain.
Corey Williams, 10, did not stop there though – cycling up another and running up a third.
His efforts raised £4,000 to buy tablet computers for patients at hospitals such as Llantrisant’s Royal Glamorgan who could not have visitors.

Circus ring mistress ‘grateful’ for food banks

Big Kid Circus is a travelling circus that arrived in Morecambe in March 2020 and got stuck there because of the coronavirus lockdown. Unable to put on
performances, the troupe had to rely on local food banks to survive.
Circus ring mistress Olympia Posirca explains what they have been doing since then to try and keep their show on the road.

Moscow train carriage helps rehome stray pets

Moscow has launched a train carriage on the city metro system that’s dedicated to finding new owners for stray cats and dogs.
Known as the ‘Tails and Paws’ train, it has posters on board featuring dozens of animals from 13 Moscow shelters asking passengers to give them a new home.