ICYMI: Feel-good news stories this week | News | DW | 22.01.2021
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ICYMI: Feel-good news stories this week

From newly discovered ancient Egyptian artifacts to Italians celebrating a pasta "explosion" in the pandemic, it's time for some uplifting news. Here are some cheery stories that you might have missed.

A lady in Italy makes hand-made pasta

Italy's pasta exports to Germany rose by 20% year-on-year in 2020

Italian food sector celebrates pasta 'explosion' in pandemic

One opandemic silver lining for Italy is the boom in food exports during the coronavirus crisis. More olive oil, cheese and rice made its way into German homes in recent months. But no other food could compete with surely Italy's ultimate versatile, easy-to-prepare staple — pasta.

Germans' yearning for it during the pandemic led to a 20% year-on-year increase in exports of various pasta to Germany.

"Germany is the number one export market for us," Luigi Scordamaglia from the Filiera Italia food association told news agency dpa, saying that pasta consumption "exploded" in the pandemic.

Watch video 03:55

Take out pasta—Feasting despite lockdown

Egypt reveals ancient archaeological burial finds south of Cairo

Egypt's best known archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, famed for his Indiana Jones hat and TV specials about ancient Egypt, has unveiled details of an ancient funerary temple in a vast necropolis at Saqqara, south of Cairo.

The latest trove was found in 22 burial shafts, and date back four millennia.

According to Hawass, who was also Egypt's former antiquities minister, archaeologists unearthed the temple of Queen Neit, wife of King Teti, the first king of the Sixth Dynasty that ruled Egypt from 2323 B.C. until 2150 B.C..

Also unearthed were statues, stelae (upright stone slabs bearing inscriptions or relief designs that often served as gravestones — editor's note), toys, wooden boats and funerary masks, as well as a long papyrus Book-of-the-Dead roll said to guide the dead "through the underworld."

American poet Amanda Gorman captures hearts worldwide

The youngest poet in recent history, 22-year-old Amanda Gorman from Los Angeles, stole the show at President Jo Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris'  inauguration ceremony with her inspiring words of hope and courage.

"When day comes we ask ourselves / Where can we find light in this never-ending shade / The loss we carry / A sea we must wade / Braved the belly of the beast / We've learned that quiet isn't always peace."

These were the opening lines of Gorman's poem, The Hill We Climb, that she recited.

Gorman became the first youth poet laureate of Los Angeles at age 16, and the first national US youth poet laureate at 19. She graduated from Harvard University last year.

Following her performance, Gorman's books became best-sellers on Amazon. She quoted fellow poet William Butler Yeats in a tweet: "For words alone are certain good: Sing, then."

Colombian start-up composts beloved deceased pets for new life to blossom  

A Colombian start-up has found a way of dealing with a beloved pet’s death that may also be better for the environment.

In most countries, pet owners can have their deceased animals cremated or buried when they pass away. But since 2017, the start-up Pleia in the city of Medellin has been one of a handful of companies around the world to compost dead pets and use their remains to grow trees and plants.  

"When you cremate a body, you burn fossil fuels and emit carbon into the atmosphere," explains Daniel Correa, co-founder of Pleia. "And when you bury a body you can contaminate underground water sources."  

But composting means mortal remains can instead be "a source of nutrients that can feed a new cycle of life," Correa says. Central to Pleia's concept is to change attitudes to death by not "perceiving the body as something that you need to get rid of."  

Composting is still new for pet funeral companies. Pleia — named after a constellation of stars — is the only company in Colombia to offer the service.  

Pleia in Medellin

Medellin start-up Pleia has found an environmentally-friendly way to say goodbye to your beloved deceased furry-friends

Indian farmers beat water scarcity with life-changing innovation

After losing crops to severe drought for years, farmers in the Indian state of Maharashtra are seeing high yields through imaginative cultivation methods

Latur, one of the larger districts in the Marathawada, has been a perennial drought-prone area, notorious for its water scarcity. Five years back, authorities had to deploy special trains to supply water to the region and police had to stand guard outside water tankers, reservoirs and distribution points.

But an initiative led by Latur villagers and agriculturalist Mahadev Gomare brought significant change to the area. A few years ago, they rejuvenated the 143-kilometer (89-mile) Manjara river and its tributaries, which are a key source of water for around 500,000 people across 900 villages. 

Over 900,000 cubic meters of silt was removed from the river, giving it a new life. The silt, in turn, was used in the fields to help level adjoining farms where sharecropping was taken up.

"Once the rivers were revived, it increased the availability of water, and other initiatives to improve the biodiversity and ecology of the area were started," Gomare told DW.

Farmers in India, Maharastra state

The innovative initiative was discovered by Latur villagers and agriculturalist Mahadev Gomare in the state of Maharashtra