It took 22-year-old Mamoudou Gassama just seconds to reach a child that was dangling from the fifth-floor balcony of a building in Paris, saving the four-year-old boy.
The undocumented migrant worker from Mali was rewarded handsomely for his courageous act. French President Emmanuel Macron met with the man and granted him French citizenship and a job as a firefighter.
"Bravo," Macron said to 22-year-old Mamoudou Gassama during a one-on-one meeting in a gilded room of the presidential Elysee Palace that ended with Gassama receiving a gold medal from the French state for "courage and devotion."
…The young man said he has papers to legally stay in Italy, where he arrived in Europe after crossing the Mediterranean, ending a long, rough stay in Libya. But he came to France last September to join his older brother, who has lived in France for decades.
Gassama, dressed in tattered blue jeans and white shirt, recounted his experience which took place at around 8 p.m. Saturday when he and friends saw a young child hanging from a fifth-floor balcony.
"I ran. I crossed the street to save him," he told Macron. He said he didn't think twice. "When I started to climb, it gave me courage to keep climbing."
God "helped me," too, he said. "Thank God I saved him."
The boy's father was detained overnight for neglect.