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Escalader: the story of Mamoudou Gassama, "The Spiderman of the 18th"

French president Macron and Mamoudou Gassama
"The Spiderman of the 18th" speaks with the President. Mamoudou Gassama's selfless act awarded him more than citizenship, a job, and a bravo from the President, it has given him--and all of us--l'éspoir in humankind. Let's hope that after the media invasion, this former refugee will be left in peace--to grow and to find happiness, and, finally, a bit of rest, in France. Read about this man's bravery.

Today's word: escalader

    : to scale, to climb

Listen to Jean-Marc read the sentence below, and today's word, in French: 

Click here to listen

Filmé par des passants, l’acte spontané de Mamoudou Gassama samedi à Paris a été vu des millions de fois sur les réseaux sociaux : on le voit escalader, à mains nues et en moins de trente secondes, la façade d’un immeuble parisien pour sauver un enfant de 4 ans suspendu à un balcon au 4e étage. --www.ladepeche.fr

Filmed by passersby, the spontaneous act of Mamoudou Gassama Saturday in Paris has been seen millions of times on social networks: we see him climb, with bare hands and in less than thirty seconds, the facade of a Parisian building to save a 4-year-old child hanging on a balcony on the 4th floor.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

By Monday morning, the heroic act of Mamoudou Gassama was all over the media. In awe along with the rest of France, I sat with my coffee, in bed, reading about the 22-year-old Malian refugee who had acted on instinct to save a 4-year-old child from imminent death. In his parents' absence (the father had stepped out for a few courses, or items at the store), the petit bonhomme wandered out onto the terrace of a 5th-floor apartment...and ended up dangling from the balcony.

Mamoudou, scaling to the 5th floor...

In the 18th Arrondissement of Paris...
As a crowd gathered below, screaming in horror, the young Malian man, who had been walking past, quickly assessed the situation before springing--quite literally!--to action. Within 30 seconds he had scaled the side of the building, going from balcony to balcony--at times jumping to reach the next level. Thank God he did not miss the bar! 

Reaching the 5th floor he landed on the balcony, having swooped up the crying child. The two safe inside the apartment, Mamadou had to sit down, his legs were trembling so badly. One can imagine his emotions were every bit as shaken. He had just taken a selfless risk, and could have easily slipped to his own death. 

Mamoudou recounted the incident to journalists:

"J'ai eu peur quand j'ai sauvé l'enfant et puis on est allés dans le salon, je me suis mis à trembler, je n'arrivais plus à tenir sur mes pieds, j'ai du m'asseoir" I was afraid when I was saving the child, and then we went into the living room and I began to tremble. I could no longer stand up with my feet. I had to sit down.

Dubbed "The Spiderman of the 18th"
In a second act of bravery, this Malian refugee faced an onslaught of reporters outside the hospital, where the firefighters had taken him and the child.  

Watching the news again Monday night, I was struck by this young man's composure and ability to speak a foreign language under a barrage of questions and the blaring, flashing camera lights. 

When he woke up, Saturday morning, the man who had escaped to France only last September, could never have dreamed the start of a new week would include a visit to the guilded salon of L'Elysee, a personal bravo and a job offer by French President Macron, and the gift of French citizenship; a cadeau even more precious to a young man who had travelled from from Mali to Burkina Faso, to Nigeria, and to Libya, where he was beaten before managing to get on a boat and cross the sea to Italy. His hope was to reach somebody who could help him, he who had been displaced from a very young age. On his way, he ended up helping a child--every bit as displaced as Mamadou had been.

We wish Mamoudou bon courage and bonne continuation, especially as he faces all the attention--the good and the bad (the jealousy, the questioning, the prying)-- that comes with being thrown into the spotlight.

As for the job? If he accepts, Mamoudou will soon be working as a fireman in Paris. I think you would agree, dear reader, that he more than passes the physical fitness test! More than that, he is an example to all of us to not hold back, to protect the innocent, and to be as graceful and recongizant as he, before a media flurry--or simply life's flurry.

Mamoudou Gassama interview on RMC
"Dieu merci, je l'ai sauvé." Thank God, I saved him. "Je l’ai fait parce que c’est un enfant. J’aime beaucoup les enfants. Je n’ai pas pensé aux étages. Je n’ai pas pensé au risque." I did it because it was a child. I love children. I didn't think about all the floors. I didn't think about the risk.

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