The interwebs have informed me that today is World Humanitarian Day. These days, it seems like every day is a “World (Insert Cause/Profession/Animal/Hobby) Day.” In fact, when I logged into Facebook this morning, I saw a banner for World Photo Day. “The same day as World Humanitarian Day?” I thought—wondering what other milestones would compete for August 19th. Perhaps an anniversary, a birthday or an update to Pokemon Go. What would win the battle for the world’s attention? If we’re being honest, it’s probably the video of a chicken wearing pants. You know the one.
But somewhere along the conveyor-belt-like feed through which we experience the world, World Humanitarian Day exists today. It exists alongside a harrowing image of a little boy named Omran Daqneesh being pulled from the rubble of his home in Aleppo after an airstrike. It exists in alongside statistics that tell us that 800 million people are malnourished worldwide. It exists alongside the knowledge that on World Humanitarian Day, 20,000 people will die from hunger related causes. In a world that suffers and burns daily, everyday should shine a spotlight on humanitarianism.
I started working for a humanitarian organization a few months ago, and the day I started, my passion for helping people was suddenly in line with my day job. It was kind of magical. I have the pleasure of working with many talented, humble, and dedicated humanitarians. So for World Humanitarian Day, I walked around and asked my colleagues at Islamic Relief USA what it means to be a humanitarian. You can see some of what they said in this short video. (And follow us on Snapchat! @islamicreliefus)
For me, this quote from United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos sums it up:
Everyone can be a humanitarian. All it takes is one act to help someone else. That’s the spirit of people helping people.
So today and everyday, my fellow humanitarians, let’s try to do something to help someone we don’t know. Let the familiarity of the smile you put on their face remind you of the humanity that connects us all.