Some clichés are there for a reason—in the case of Malian immigrant Mamoudou Gassama rescuing a toddler on the verge of falling from a four-story balcony, “not all heroes wear capes” certainly comes to mind.
According to ABC News, Gassama’s bravery and action didn’t merely result in internet fame, but in a visit with French President Emmanuel Macron, who awarded him with a medal, naturalization, and a job as a firefighter. “Bravo,” said Macron to the 22-year-old migrant during their private meeting at the Elysee Palace, before awarding him with a gold medal from the state for “courage and devotion.”
In case you missed the stunning act of heroism on Saturday, it was fortunately caught on film and plastered across the web.
Gassama hasn’t had it easy. After a long, harsh period in Libya, he finally acquired legal papers to stay in Italy. However, his brother has lived in France for decades, which is what led Gassama to the country last September. It was a rough year, “but I wasn’t discouraged,” he said. His actions on Saturday are thankfully officially allowing him to stay for good.
“I ran,” he said about first spotting the dangling child. “I crossed the street to save him. When I started to climb, it gave me courage to keep climbing.” God “helped me,” he added. “Thank God I saved him.” In terms of fear, Gassama told Macron that he only began shaking once he was safely inside the apartment, after his dangerous climb. Macron, of course, was impressed.
“Because this is an exceptional act…we are obviously, today, going to regularize all your papers,” said Macron, virtually guaranteeing his newfound French citizenship. While this may seem at odds with the President’s increased legislative immigration hurdles, he maintains that there’s no moral contradiction in rewarding Gassama for his actions.