Mamoudou Gassama was on his way to watch a soccer match in Paris a few months ago when he spotted a child dangling from the ledge of an apartment building.
The 22-year old migrant from Mali sprung into action, scaling four stories to rescue the child. People filmed the extraordinary event and the ensuing internet fame catapulted Gassama into a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, where he was awarded citizenship for his daring feat.
Now Gassama has the chance to rescue even more people with the Paris Fire Brigade.
“Spider-Man” started his first day with the force on Sunday, joining 23 other new recruits, according to CNN. He had to pass rigorous physical examinations to get admitted.
In his new role, he’ll be fighting fires, rescuing animals, providing emergency life support, conducting lost persons operations, cleaning up pollution sites, and more, according to the department.
24 nouveaux volontaires service civique dont Mamoudou Gassama ont rejoint cet après midi la brigade de sapeurs-pompiers de Paris. Félicitations à eux 👩🚒👏 Pour celles et ceux qui veulent nous rejoindre ➡️https://t.co/j8oOCktHbvpic.twitter.com/bcc6h448nP— Pompiers de Paris (@PompiersParis) June 28, 2018
Gassama’s remarkable rise comes as France struggles to deal with undocumented migrants and asylum seekers scattered throughout the country.
The country received more than 100,000 requests for asylum in 2017, and this year it’s expected to receive around 200,000 more applications, according to France 24.
That’s on top of the existing applications from previous years, when migration to Europe began surging.
Not all migrants will be able to win instant citizenship by demonstrating their worth in life-or-death situations.
But all of them are seeking a better life. As Gassama gets adjusted to his new role, his day-to-day work could help show the world how migrants can make valuable contributions to society, if given a chance.
Global Citizen campaigns to help refugees and migrants around the world and you can take action on this issue here.