The lobby of Beiersdorf AG in Hamburg is full this evening. People in evening gowns stand together and talk. Everyone came to participate in the awards ceremony for the Salvavita Nivea Award and the DLRG. A little away from the hustle and bustle of people's voices, Mohammad and Oday sit together at the table with their families. They talk and get support from fathers.
Both, 15 and 16 years old, are slightly tense and nervous, because they will receive the award in the "emergency aid" category – for an act they say they would do again.
It is a summer day in June of this year. They spend time with their friends on the Elba. But the relaxed mood is suddenly interrupted by a request for help. A woman fighting in the river against the current. "We asked if he needed help, so when he said yes, we jumped in," says Oday star, And Mohammad adds: "We didn't think much, we jumped immediately".
Helping people in need? For the two of course
They pull the woman out of the water together – and thus save her life. They jumped into the Elbe without fear, they say. "There was no time, otherwise it would have drowned, so we had to jump," says Oday, adding that they would do such a heroic act again and again. And Muhammad says: "He who has a conscience helps, he who does not have one does not help". It was obvious to both of them, especially for Oday, who said he almost drowned as a child. "I know the feeling when you need help."
A few months later and a few miles on the Elba, I'm in Hamburg. Both are the first time in the Hanseatic city, a beautiful city, as they say. A few hours before the big awards ceremony, the two are at a press conference. Here a new boat for the DLRG must be baptized, in the name "Nivea 144", after its donor. Here they are questioned by journalists, they are in front of TV cameras, they give interviews. But even if both claim to be very proud, they do not show it outside, rather modestly.
Both have learned to swim in Germany
The two teenagers have not lived in Germany for a long time. Mohammad for more than two years, Oday for more than three years. Both come from Syria, Mohammad also has Palestinian roots. Both live in Magdeburg and go to school together. In Germany, they also learned to swim first, in Syria, this was not possible. But even if they have learned to swim late, they are not lacking in sportsmanship. Oday does karate and Mohammad does taekwondo, he even has a black belt. He learned from his father, who trained martial arts in their home country.
In their big evening, the two teenagers sit together with their families in the front row, looking impatiently, but also slightly tense, at the awards ceremony. Karsten Kirchgässler, who saved two girls from drowning in a lake near Lüneburg, applauds for the rescuer of the DLRG, and for the swimming instructor Sabine Hessen, who teaches children to swim for 37 years.
Laudatrice Laura Dekker gets excited about the two boys
And then comes his category, the fourth and last of tonight. The praise is Laura Dekker. The now 24 year old sailed the world alone in 2010 as a teenager, making headlines in many countries. Start with a small anecdote and describe Oday and Mohammad as superheroes. At school, in fact, the two boys had received two superhero shirts after the heroic action – once Superman and once Batman.
Thanks to his time as a young circumnavigator, he is able to empathize with both, Dekker tells him star, Switch to the current and save someone else, it's not easy: "I think it's great that they saw that someone needed help and they just jumped in and helped, many people think you're first Calling or asking me if this should really be be done, I think it's age related, when you're young, you do it and I know it pretty well, because I was the same age it was when I sailed around the world. "
The winners are proud, as is the father
It is something special for them to be able to present the award to them and praise them: "I think it's great, I think it's great to support people who help other people, it's a wonderful thing that the world is most interested in might be needed. "
With great applause and standing ovations, Oday and Mohammad are invited to the stage, where they receive the award and a certificate. They proudly hold the trophy and smile in the clapping crowd. An overwhelming moment. When Laura asks a question in Oday, she finds no words.
Both receive a cash prize of 1,500 euros each. "What do you want to do with money?" The professional sailor asks. Mohammad wants to buy a bike and a laptop, even to continue learning German. Oday says he wants to buy gifts for his family.
After all the prizes have been awarded, the two are on stage, photographed and interviewed. Mohammad tells us that he is proud to have received the award: "It is a great pleasure for me". And Oday: "I'm happy to be here and I won the prize, which I really like." His father adds: "I am very proud to have done such an act".
As the saved women go today, the two do not know it. They had not heard from him after his departure, the two tell his praise on stage. Perhaps the event will help to get in touch here too.