The week's good news: January 9, 2020

It wasn't all bad!

Christina Koch.
(Image credit: NASA via AP)

1. Man who learned to code in a refugee camp is now CEO of his own video game company

Lual Mayen was 12 when he saw a computer for the first time, and it changed his life. "I was like, 'Wow,'" Mayen told CBS News. "It clicked in my mind that I want to use that one day." Mayen, 25, was born in South Sudan, and grew up in a Ugandan refugee camp. He told his mother, the camp's seamstress, how much he wanted a computer, and she secretly started saving for one. After three years, she had $300, and bought a used laptop. Mayen walked three hours every day to charge the computer, and taught himself how to code. He created "Salaam," a video game about refugees fleeing violence; the end goal is for the characters to find peace. In 2017, he posted a link to the game on Facebook, and it quickly garnered international attention. This was his ticket out — Mayen now resides in Washington, D.C., where he runs his own video game company.

CBS News

2. 3 friends born in the same town, all named Dorothy, celebrate their 100th birthdays together

Dorothy Buchanan, Dorothy Kern, and Dorothy Murray — known collectively as "the three Dots" — have more in common than just a first name. They were all born in Auburn, Maine, in 1919. In 1937, they graduated from the same high school, and each one went on to have a successful career. The friends all still live in Auburn, and get together a few times a year. Their meet-ups were especially important in 2019, as they celebrated turning 100. During a recent tea at Buchanan's house, the three Dots were interviewed by Maine Public Radio. They were asked to reflect on their lives, and give advice based on what they've seen and experienced. Kern encouraged people to focus on saving the planet and tackling climate change. Buchanan would like everyone to "accept other people for what they are," while Murray wants all Americans to put aside political differences and "get along. Love one another."

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3. 40 years after high school, homecoming princess donates kidney to her prince

When they were crowned homecoming prince and princess 40 years ago at Santa Ana Valley High School, Vitaliano Salera and Rose Valenzuela never dreamed that one day, they'd be bonded for a different reason. The Southern California residents lost touch after graduation, but reconnected 15 years ago, when Salera married Valenzuela's best friend, Felicia. Recently, Salera was diagnosed with end-stage kidney failure due to diabetes and needed a transplant to live. Everyone he knew was tested, and there was one match: Valenzuela. She immediately agreed to be a donor, and they both went through surgery a few weeks ago. "To give a kidney to somebody so they can hold their wife's hand a little bit longer or see their granddaughter grow up to be a young woman, that's what she did for me," Salera told NBC Los Angeles. Both are recovering well, and Salera's surgeon said his kidney function is "essentially normal."

NBC Los Angeles

4. Plane passenger makes woman's dream come true when he gives her his 1st class seat

While waiting to board a Virgin Atlantic flight to New York City, two passengers named Jack and Violet struck up a conversation, and Jack learned that Violet — an 88-year-old retired nurse — had always wanted to fly in the first-class cabin. Once they got on the plane, they went their separate ways, but soon, Jack found Violet in the economy section and asked if she would switch seats — he was in first class, and wanted Violet to take his spot. Flight attendant Leah Amy wrote on Facebook that she watched as Violet settled into her plush seat and Jack sat down in his new space, right by the bathrooms. "He never made a peep or asked for anything the rest of the flight," she said. Violet enjoyed a nice dinner and turning her seat into a bed, and asked that her picture be taken because her daughter wouldn't believe what happened.

FOX 11

5. NASA astronaut sets record for longest space mission by a woman

NASA astronaut Christina Koch made history on Dec. 28 when she broke the record for the single longest space mission by a woman. Koch surpassed the record set by her mentor Peggy Whitson in 2017, when she spent 289 days, 5 hours, and 1 minute in space. Koch set off for the International Space Station on March 14, 2019. Initially, she was supposed to be there for a six-month session, but her stay was extended until February 2020, in part so she could collect more data about the effects of long-duration spaceflight. If she heads back when scheduled, Koch will have spent 328 days in space, just 12 days short of Scott Kelly's record of 340. "Having the opportunity to be up here for so long is truly an honor," Koch said.

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.