Top 5 Most Heartwarming Stories of 2011 

It's cold outside. Here's something to warm the cockles.

We journalists aren't exactly famous for saccharine. Chicken soup for the soul isn't our daily bread and butter either, to deploy some hackneyed metaphors.

No, the worst of us — the paparazzi and phone hackers — give our profession a bad name. We know it: we're in the same orbit as lawyers and tax collectors.

Reputation aside, however, we swear we're not heartless lizards. We have feelings too. And there are stories that cross the editors' screens here at GlobalPost that prompt even the most hardened hack to shed a tear or two.

Beneath the stories of the big events of 2011 — the natural disasters, revolutions and economic hardship — were some that warmed the cockles, in their own quirky way. And if they touched cold blooded beasts like us, just imagine how you will feel. Get a box of tissues ready.

1) Libya: Deaf rebels fight for rights

A special unit of 86 deaf soldiers battles against Gaddafi forces, and wins respect: "In the early days there were not so many men fighting," Sati said. "I wanted to show everyone that we needed to get out there; show the people I can't hear, I can't speak, but I can fight. If I could do it, they had no excuse not to be out there, too."

2) Attention African shoppers: Wal-Mart is coming

Love it or hate it, America's mass-market retailer is forging a foothold on a continent not known for consumerism. Africa is increasingly being viewed as a booming dynamo, following in the footsteps of Asia’s impressive economic growth — and no longer seen only as a continent of war, famine and misery.

3) Michelle Obama inspires Soweto

To the young African women who crammed into the pews of a Soweto church to hear Michelle Obama speak, the message from the glamorous US first lady was time-worn but still inspirational: “Yes, you can."

4) Brazil gays marry in mass wedding

Weddings are about a great optimistic leap of faith into the future. They're always special, even more so if the couple had previously been legally banned from taking the vow. Brazil changed that this year, when it became the largest country to permit same-sex marriage.

5) Le Monde advises, make love often and you will live longer

In a scoop that somehow eluded the American media (no wonder the industry is in decline!) the paper reported that frequent love-making increases your life expectancy.

Eh voila! Happy holidays.

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