Acts of Kindness

What impact did small acts of kindness and the charity of individuals have on Deo’s journey?  When have small acts of kindness impressed you?

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23 thoughts on “Acts of Kindness

  1. Emily Warner, Librarian says:

    The small acts of kindness that occurred on Deo’s journey brought him to each place in his life that he was meant to be. He says early in the book, “God I am still in your hands.” It is my belief that things happen for a reason. Call it Fate or Divine Intervention, our own personal journeys are very often enhanced or colored by our interactions with strangers and sometimes their acts of kindness can have a profound effect on our lives. Sharon McKenna, the Wolfs, James O’Malley, Muhammad all showed Deo kindness and, in turn, he made a difference in their lives. It’s important to look beyond the surface of a person and, in all things, treat one another with kindness. Deo took it one step farther. Sharon said, “He was grateful for everything.” This is a powerful lesson.

  2. Cyrus Rothwell-Ferraris says:

    Deo would not be where he is today had it not been for the actions of others. He wouldn’t have been able to leave Burundi to come to the United States. He wouldn’t have found a dirty warehouse to sleep in when he first arrived in New York. He wouldn’t have gotten a job, had a place to keep his stuff, or learned how to make tips if it weren’t for the direction of others. These are all of the small acts of kindness that put Deo in position to be cared for by Sharon McKenna (who is from my hometown!) and to be taken in by the Wolfs. These larger acts of kindness set Deo up for the rest of his success, but he there is no way he would have gone to medical school had it not been for each and every small action along his entire journey.

  3. Julia Slyer says:

    Without the seemingly small acts of kindness and charity which Deo received throughout his journey, he would never have encountered such success. From a friends’ father generously funding his flights to New York to the chance encounter with a friendly French-speaking porter at US Customs, people’s small acts of kindness impacted Deo’s life in far greater ways than they could have imagined. Sharon McKenna showered Deo in support, even giving him extra money and clothing when she herself could have used the cash. The Wolf’s opened up their home to Deo, and helped him to gain acceptance into first college and then medical school. Every small action and bit of charity Deo received throughout his long journey piled up, and ended up making all the difference in the world. The most impressive acts of kindness happen when one is completely selfless. Having nothing to gain and still helping a fellow human being is as kind as it gets.

  4. Peter Giordano says:

    “Strength in what Remains” demonstrates that even the strongest of individuals require help in times of need. Although Deo proved to be resilient and driven through out his journey, their were times in which others needed to push him on to ensure his success and survival. This is clear when Deo needs to escape Burundi. He was shocked and exhausted by the time the Tutsi mother found him in the bushes. The women knew that he would die if he did not cross the border to Rwanda, and urged him to escape with her. Deo told the women he was “too tired” and that he wanted to stay in Burundi. The mother knew she needed to push him, and told Deo “No, No, the border, it’s nearby. Get Up!” Without this motivation, Deo would have stayed in Burundi, where he almost certainly would have died. This act shows that even the strongest willed of people, like Deo, need a push to keep them moving in times of need.

  5. Nguyen Nguyen says:

    I agree with Cyrus’s idea that Deo wouldn’t be able to achieve later success if it wasn’t for the selfless strangers who helped Deo, especially in America. It was essential to his survival as he barely had money and knew no English. Because of the help Deo accumulated along the way, he was able to find places to live, find jobs, and later attend Columbia University and Dartmouth Medical School. Reflecting upon myself, I find small acts of kindness impressive especially when I feel isolated just like Deo when he was wandering New York for the first time. It reassured me that there are still people caring about me ,to certain extents, especially in a foreign environment like in a boarding school.

  6. Sam Rusoff says:

    Small acts of kindness really had an unbelievable impact on Deo. First, when he came to the US at the beginning of the book, he met Sharon while delivering groceries, and she tipped him very generously. This one small act led him to come back to her, and eventually Sharon would be the centerpiece in finding Deo a home and everything else that followed. Back in Burundi, when Deo was on his escape, a woman had seen him sleeping in a field. After she saw that he was afraid, she helped him to cross the border, into safety. She also helped to take the piece of cloth off of his wrist to mark being questioned later, and escape into the Hutu crowd. This small act of kindness made a huge impact on Deo’s escape, and his life as a whole, because had this woman not crossed him into Rwanda, he probably would have died, or died after the questioning. Small acts of kindness have affected me during my first few days at Boarding School, like Son said above. It has affected me by when I was a new student, people would just come up to me and ask my name, introduce themselves, and it made me feel at home.

  7. Jeffrey Erazo says:

    Deo’s life would have taken a completely different route if it were not for the acts of kindness he encountered along his journey. It all began when he was lost in the woods of Burundi on his way to Rwanda. Deo’s rescuer, a Hutu woman, was able to successfully smuggle him into Rwanda. Had it not been for her, Deo would have died. What surprises me the most about this story is the amount of kindness he found in New York City. Often, many people look down on the homeless population in New York. However, Deo, an ordinary homeless man, was given the opportunity to further educate himself and become a better person. What if all those homeless people were given a chance to obtain a better life, like Deo? Deo is one of thousands of people that have been victims of the conflicts in Burundi, but his story inspires me to help people that may not be as privileged as I am. After educating himself at the best schools in America, Deo returned to his home country to build a clinic for the local people. His lifelong dream had become a reality. Deo never lost his sense of helping one’s neighbor, especially since he was helped by so many. This story just comes to show that one act of kindness at a time can make a difference.

  8. Renee Dreher says:

    Deo’s life is full of incredible and inspiring acts of kindness. They come both big and small and they have the most impeccable timing. Just when Deo is going through a struggle, at an all time low, or is ready to give up, a selfless act of kindness always finds its way to him. Throughout his journey in Burundi and Rwanda and as he finds his way through the United States, strangers he meets along the way open up their world to him and give him everything that they would have for themselves. It amazes me the energy and enthusiasm Sharon put into helping him, and how the Wolfs let Deo into their lives like he was their own. It is not every day that you come across people with that kind of love and kindness in their hearts and Deo was very lucky to meet the people he did or his journey may have ended very differently.

  9. Edeline Loh says:

    Without the kindness of people from both Burundi and America, Deo would definitely not be where he is today. In Burundi, Deo received the kindness of his medical school friend Jean, and his family. Jean’s father provided Deo with a “letter that said Deo was going to America to sell coffee” (Kidder 144) in order for Deo to receive a visa to travel to America. Jean’s father sacrificed time and money in order to help Deo flee Burundi even though he would not stand to gain any monetary benefit from helping Deo escape. When Deo first arrived in America, he worked as a lowly grocery delivery man and slept in Central Park at night. A chance encounter with Sharon McKenna changed everything. Her kindness and willingness to help Deo make a better life for himself led her to find Deo a safe place to sleep at every night and help him resume his studies. Like Jean’s father, Sharon McKenna did not stand to gain anything from helping Deo, a newly arrived refugee who could barely speak English. What amazes me the most about kindness of people who have helped Deo in his life is the fact that they were willing to help someone who was shunned by society. Jean’s father did not care that Deo was a Tutsi and Sharon McKenna did not batter an eyelid at the thought that she was helping Deo, who many did not even respect enough to make eye contact with. As a result of the kindness of people from both Burundi and America, Deo has been able to go back to Burundi and help thousands of people from the country he once fled.

  10. Lucy Ewert says:

    Throughout Deo’s journey the acts of kindness and the charity of individuals impacted his story in a big way because, without these numerous acts Deo would not be where he is today. Towards the beginning of his journey, Deo was confronted with the possibility of death multiple times. One day when Deo thought he was ready to face death, a woman took him under her wing, and was determined to save him. At first Deo was reluctant to embrace her generosity. Deo said he was too tired to go on. The women insisted that she had to try to help him, even though this put her life in danger. After Deo escaped Burundi and started a new life in New York, many strangers went out of their way to support Deo. Some of these acts were small, for example the airport janitor giving Deo a roof to seep under. But other acts helped form the new direction of Deo’s life. Nancy and Charlie embraced Deo. They gave him a home, and an education. This large act of kindness, with the help of others helped Deo reach the place where he is today.

  11. Sarah Rogers says:

    The small acts of kindness and all the charity Deo receives throughout the novel are the gateway paths to his future. Although his perseverance and strong will carry him throughout the novel, these acts are what lead to his ultimate success. Without the help of people like Muhammad, Nancy and Charlie, Jean, the old woman who helped him escape total chaos unharmed, and Sharon, Deo may have never even had a chance at survival. Specifically, with the assistance of Nancy and Charlie, Deo is able to go “…to an Ivy League school where he had been mistaken for the son of a king, studying organic chemistry and philosophy,” (Kidder 104) and without them would never have been able to pursue his medical career. Deo did not take any of these gifts and opportunities for granted though, with them he ensured his future and accomplished his dreams and aspirations for his family and the town of Burundi. In the same sense as Deo, whenever anyone selflessly reaches out to help or guide me, I always take the time to reflect and appreciate the assistance.

  12. Ben Key-Comis says:

    The novel “Strength in What Remains” tells the remarkable story of a young man from Burundi. Deo arrives in New York City with hardly any money at all. The various acts of kindness that Deo receives made his incredible journey possible. Beginning with the woman who helped Deo at the airport to Sharon who found him a home, the people that Deo encountered showed improbable kindness to him. the small acts of kindness that Deo received were extremely important because they ultimately led to the greater acts of kindness. Taking a homeless person into your home is a huge risk, but Sharon and the Wolfs had faith in Deo, which influenced their risky decisions. Living in New York City I rarely ever give money to homeless people and would probably never consider taking one into my home. Although this novel did not change my thinking completely it taught me that small acts of kindness can go a long way, especially in Deo’s case. One small act of kindness that I have witnessed in my life is people giving food to the homeless. Sometimes we do not realize the impact of an insignificant act like giving away extra food.

  13. Brian Yu says:

    Every act of kindness had a huge impact on Deo’s journey. Acts of kindness allowed Deo to persevere through the struggle he was going through and stand tall in the end. One person who was kind to Deo that stands out to me is Sharon. Even though Deo and Sharon had not met before nor had much in common, Sharon was kind enough to support Deo. Sharon deeply cared about Deo, and she was the ultimate person who led Deo to the medical school. However, it wasn’t only Sharon who had helped Deo to get to a position he is in now. He got help to find his first shelter in New York, and to find his first job at the grocery store. He also received help to earn more money by getting tips from his customers. All of these act of kindness contributed to Deo’s journey because if Deo had not received one of these helps, he would not have succeeded.

  14. Allegra says:

    In Strength in What Remains, a small act of kindness that impacted Deo’s life is when Deo’s friend gave him the money and opportunity to go to America and escape the difficult situation of Burundi. A small act of kindness that impressed me was when my mom forgot her wallet at a farm stand, and instead of taking it, they called her up to come retrieve it. No money or contents were taken, it was all there and it was very kind of those people.

  15. JP Alvarez says:

    The small actions that occurred in “Strength in What Remains” influence greatly the life of our protagonist and his friends. Although Deo is smart and strong, he would be nowhere if it weren’t for his kind acts. As Deo spread his kindness throughout New York City, little by little he started getting the favor back. People such as Sharon McKenna and Muhammad help Deo in times of need, and Deo in return gives them a life changing experience. It is Deogratias’ kindness and well-being that gave him that boarding ticket to New York, that cheap loft in the city, and ultimately that scholarship to Columbia. All of the above and more, are examples of how small acts of kindness can make a huge detour and give back hope to people in need. This book gives out a message; in times of need the way out is not violence, but kindness. We get what we give.

  16. Andrew Koudijs says:

    Deo’s life depended on small acts of kindness. In Burundi, a Hutu woman risked her life, smuggled him, saving him from death. In New York City, he met a baggage handler. This stranger found him housing, and gave him a job delivering groceries and even though Deo remained poor; it was this small act of kindness that mattered. Deo, while homeless in Central Park, met Sharon, who introduced Deo to the Wolfs. They took him in, and paid for Columbia! Dr. Farmer at Harvard was Deo’s next kind friend. Deo worked at Farmers’ free health organization, which motivated Deo to fulfill his goal. Deo then left Dartmouth. The humanity Deo finally experienced allowed him to return home! Deo built a Public Health Clinic. Deo helped people who suffered in Burundi, just as kind strangers helped him. Their acts of kindness made Deo determined to give back. Deo became a grateful man, who returned home, helping others, just like Emily’s quote says, “He was grateful for everything.” I also agree with Jeffrey, who said, “This story … show[s] that one act of kindness … can make a difference.” Acts of kindness by strangers rebuilt Deo’s faith in humanity, and mine, too.

    • Hannah Honan says:

      Amongst the many small acts of kindness presented in Strength in What Remains, the act demonstrated by a Hutu woman in Burundi stood out to me as the most significant. Deo encounters many life-threatening obstacles over the course of his six-month excursion escaping the mass genocide in Burundi. Deo’s life is on the line, especially since he is a Tutsi. However Hutus too faced many dangerous challenges. Deo wakes up from a long and deep sleep, feeling weak and utter despair. Then a Hutu woman with a child approaches him and orders for Deo to follow her. Deo is reluctant at first, however he eventually obeys her wishes to make way towards safer grounds. The woman and Deo joined a larger group of people where policemen were looking for Tutsi’s among the refugees. When one of the guards grows suspicious of Deo, the woman grabs his arm and pretends to be his mother and claims that he is a Hutu as well. This act of kindness is only briefly mentioned and therefore portrayed as a small act of kindness, however it made an enormous impact in Deo’s life, and ultimately is one of the underlying reasons he survived. This affirms the notion that small acts of kindness can have an enormous impact on people’s lives and reminds me that even small things can make a huge difference.

  17. Dennis Medeiros says:

    The largest impact on Deo’s journey was that which resulted from small acts of kindness and charity by other individuals. Without such acts, Deo never would have made it. Throughout the story, several different people helped Deo tremendously through minor actions. People such as Sharon McKenna, the Wolfs, and James O’Malley greatly impacted Deo’s journey. While on the run, Deo falls asleep from exhaustion. He awakens to a Hutu woman who urges him to follow her. She helps him get through refugee camps and even saves him from sure execution. When some guards approach Deo asking if he is Tutsi, the woman immediately grabs him and pretends to be his mother, convincing the guards otherwise. Additionally, when Deo finally makes it to the United States, he also encounters people who help steer him in the right direction. For example, Deo is befriended by an airport worker, Muhammed, who helps get him through customs. He also gives Deo a place to sleep and helps him find a job. Looking back on my own experiences, small acts of kindness have impressed me greatly very recently. As a student new to boarding school and its traditions, I have been very lost at times. However, every step of the way there has been someone there to show me the right way of doing something, explaining a routine to me, or even just asking how I’m doing. It doesn’t take much for these people to stop and ask me how my day is going, but it leaves a great impression on me as well as a sense of belonging.

  18. Saskia Connery says:

    Had it not been for the kind actions of strangers, Deo would not be where he is today. The first example of kindness Deo experienced helped him escape Burundi. A kind Hutu woman told Deo to follow her and lies to everybody telling them that Deo was her son (making him a Hutu). If it were not for this kind woman’s action, Deo probably would have been executed. Shortly following this act of kindness followed another one; upon arrival in New York City an airport worker named Muhammed helped Deo get through customs. Muhammed also shows Deo a place to sleep, helps him seek employment and acts as a mentor at the beginning of Deo’s journey. Along with the kind Hutu woman and Muhammed a lady named Sharon who was also a stranger helped Deo. She open up her home to Deo and became Deo’s support system. I believe that without Sharon Deo would not have gone to Columbia and Medical School. Deo’s journey as a refugee should serve as an inspiration to all and also teach strangers to be more helpful and kind to strangers because one small act of kindness could impact a life.

  19. Quintin Pollart says:

    Its hard to quantify, you know? Small acts versus big and acts at all verses luck. This brings us now to a new digression, and one that i wish to explore in a bit more detail before i answer the question previously prompted. Was Deo and lucky man? In one sense he had the worst luck and what some call, “draw” that any human could have. Being put into the world with less of a change at success based on both language and a lessened, but still prevalent racial barrier that still exists in much of American culture and interaction. In another sense completely, and from another perspective, as that is what this book is really all about, Deo is the luckiest man that i have every heard of. Through all of his blights and blunders he has emerged from his journey through life hardened and better for his trouble, and not damaged as he should have been. But as i have said, I digress. It is the little lucky moments, and maybe the kind acts of others, that redeem the lost soul of Deo, and keep his earthy body safe from the many plagues of this land. If it were not for these Deo would be a man lost, not only in life but in purpose, for he would not have had the opportunities of others, nor the chances of many who roam around the first world as if their freedom comes at no cost to others. To him these acts were huge, to others these acts were little, but it was in fact the conscious effort of others that saved the life of Deo and gave the world an incredible story of climbing back and conquering a world unknown.

  20. Samuel Gatsos says:

    Throughout Deo’s journey, if it weren’t for the small and sometimes totally random acts of kindness that he experienced, he would not have ended up in the position he is today. These acts provided him with a place to live, clothing to wear, money to spend, food to eat, and essentially everything required for survival. The small acts I read about have a large impact on me. Being from New York City, I actually believe that without these acts of kindness, Deo would not have lived as successful of a life. I see people who have no home, no money, and no food all over the city, and think back to Deo and believe that they should have a chance to re-do their life like he did. And now, whenever someone I know well, or even a total stranger that helps out someone who needs it, or is just kind in general, I have a feeling of appreciation for their actions, and it normally leads me to repeat those actions; to “pay if forward”. I never look at people who ask for help in the same way anymore, because I know that there may be something that I can’t see on the outside that is really terrible happening to them on the inside, or on a personal level.

  21. Sam Lewis says:

    In the novel “Strength in What Remains”, the small acts of kindness from unknown people are largely why Deo is around to tell his story today. To piggy back on Quintin’s view of acts of kindness versus luck, I think they go hand in hand in this novel. For example, it was either luck or coincidence that brought Deo to meet Sharon while delivering groceries. However, it was not luck that suddenly forced Sharon to help him in a small way. She made her own decision to generously tip a man she had never met before. This small act of kindness was the first step in a life changing relationship in the U.S. which would never been established had Sharon not selflessly make a mans day. Another example of where luck coexists with blind kindness is when Deo is asleep in a field. Back in Burundi, Deo was trying to escape from his home and the Hutu mob. In terms of luck, Deo was very lucky to have had a woman spot him sleeping. Again, it was not luck that made the woman decide to help him. She had several options after finding Deo and she decided to risk her life for a man she had no relation to. Although maybe a larger act of kindness because of the fact the woman helped Deo cross the boarder, the split second decision to help a unknown man, completely re-wrote and saved Deo’s life. Although luck may play a roll in meeting the people that changed his life, the individual acts of kindness made by those people are responsible for the life, freedom and success of Deo.

  22. TJ Adams says:

    In the novel :Strength In What Remains” the small acts of kindness are mainly the reason why Deo was successful in his journey in America. When given the opportunity Deo excelled and did his best. But if it weren’t for those opportunities he would not be the person he is today. Some say it is luck that he ran into Sharon while delivering groceries, but everything happens for a reason. These random acts of kindness lead to Deo successful and eventful upbringing in America.

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