Image from independent.co.ok

Just when you thought that the majority of Aussie blokes were in the man-boy category, here’s a story to warm the heart and inspire hope.

When 23-year-old student Tommy Connolly moved to the Gold Coast to resume his studies, he decided to get in touch with his 17-year old cousin, who he hadn’t seen for over 10 years. And finding her to be homeless, 32 weeks pregnant, with the baby’s father in jail and no parental help to be seen, he made it his job to get her off the street.

Connolly said he took his cousin in “to make sure she’d keep the baby, stay off the streets and have a better life”. Once the baby was born, he said that he’d taken on a fatherly role, but that his cousin does most of the work. “…And if it’s one or two years of my life I have to put on hold to make sure two lives are going to be saved, it’s nothing at all.”

I have to admit, I am super impressed. There aren’t many young people that would go out of their way to even contact a long-lost cousin in the first place, let alone turn their whole lives upside down for their good. This is definitely a feel-good story, one that we can “aww” and “ahh” at before comfortably getting on with our lives. But maybe it’s a chance to do more: to reflect on what we can do better.

The other day when sitting on the bus, I was so absorbed in my own thoughts that I didn’t realise that a pregnant woman was standing right in front of me the whole time. When I finally did notice and offered her my seat, she was about to get off. How blind we can be to the needs of others, and how caught up we can be in our own little dramas!

My dad always tells us to get involved, to complicate our lives for the sake of other people. I remember being on crowded public transport with him, maybe a year ago, when a woman threw up on the bus and was evidently not feeling well. Dad was quick to ask if she was alright, help clean up, find her some water and make sure she was looked after once we got off the bus.

He made an excellent point to me afterwards: people don’t like to get involved. They’d rather look on silently, wait for someone else to help, and probably tweet about how gross it all was – all things that forget the needs of the person in question. Maybe it’s because people are watching, or because we have our own schedule to stick to, but we’d rather not put ourselves out there. I really think that this needs to change!

It doesn’t have to always be about “getting involved” either – we can think about the needs of others in the smallest of things. Who knows how much we could change that grumpy shop assistant’s day by asking how she is, rather than throwing her a dirty look? Or what nerves we could spare that slow driver by gently overtaking them rather than beeping the horn?

Imagine if Tommy Connolly had never gotten in touch with his cousin, or taken the time to empathise with her situation. We wouldn’t have this feel-good story to read and inspire us, and she would have had a very different life.

Tamara El-Rahi is an associate editor of MercatorNet. A Journalism graduate from the University of Technology Sydney, she lives in Australia with her husband and two daughters.