The COVID-19 that paralysed much of the globe since early this year brought death and untold misery to many. But it also brought to light community heroes whose stories bring joy into our lives amidst all the bleakness. One of those is Ryan Sta Maria whose resilience and bighearted nature makes him one of our heroes of the pandemic.
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Despite the horrors inflicted on the world by COVID-19 and covidiocy, we’ve also witnessed some of the best of human nature during this global catastrophe.
We’ve seen medical professionals across the globe go above and beyond the call of duty for their fellow humans. Some paid with their lives as a direct result of the assistance they rendered. We also witnessed members of the queer communities step up right from the beginning.
Wuhan, where COVID-19 originated, endured the first and one of the most stringent lockdowns. During that time, members of the local LGBT organisation, the Wuhan Comrades Centre, risked their health and ran police road blocks to deliver life-saving HIV medication to patients unable to otherwise access it.
Ryan Sta Maria
Here in Australia, Filipino student Ryan Sta Maria was studying commercial cooking in Melbourne when the pandemic struck. The city of Melbourne suffered the worst outbreak and the severest restrictions of any place in Australia. Ryan also worked a part-time job to support himself and pay for his studies. He lost his job at the beginning of the restrictions. As an international student, he was ineligible for any form of assistance.
So Ryan Sta Maria established his own small online business. He sells gourmet Filipino spices online.
Heroes of the pandemic: Ryan Sta Maria
In addition to supporting himself, the success of his business has enabled Ryan to continue supporting two schools at home in the Philippines.
Ryan grew up in poverty, raised by grandparents after his parents decided they had him too young and were incapable of providing for him. Seeing education as a path out of poverty, Ryan worked for a friend after school, and the friend, in turn, funded his education.
Determined that other kids should have the same opportunities, Ryan donates money from his profits to help two schools in the Phillippines. At those two schools, just seven teachers are responsible for 268 students.
The schools have no internet and the students don’t have access to computers or tablets etc, so they rely on printed study modules. Ryan’s financial assistance allows the teachers to afford those office and study materials.
Ryan says, “Almost a billion people live in extreme poverty. Six billion don’t. We reckon the six billion of us could work together to put an end to global poverty, for good.”
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