World Humanitarian Day
Wednesday, 19 August marks World Humanitarian Day. For the international development community, this is an especially significant day. It was first established in 2009 by the United Nations, to commemorate the 22 people killed in the 2003 bomb attack on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq. In essence, World Humanitarian Day recognises the humanitarian workers who passed away while providing protection and support for those who need it most.
However, it also celebrates the present workers who are putting their utmost efforts into aid, such as health epidemics like COVID-19, or other crises affecting the livelihoods of people in the world. The United Nations, as well as many non-profit organisations across the globe, take this day to honour and thank these brave workers.
And this year is no different. In the international humanitarian sector, numerous not-for-profit organisations directed their efforts towards helping those affected by the 2019 coronavirus. Though it has had a detrimental affect worldwide, those in countries with inadequate public health infrastructure have greatly suffered. Examples include the Pacific Island nations, such as Samoa, Tonga and many more. That’s not the only humanitarian issue addressed though. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is working towards fulfilling the Agenda 2030. They pledged their assistance towards arranging inclusive and integrated services for sexual and reproductive health. In addition, they also intend to meet the needs of survivors of gender-based violence, including mental health care and psychosocial support.
World Humanitarian Day is simply a day where we pay respect to these dedicated individuals and institutions striving for harmony. At Good Neighbors Australia, we are doing our best for humanitarian efforts too. Domestically, we collaborated with OzHarvest to provide meals for those affected by the Australian bushfires early in January this year. Over $10 000 AUD was donated to the campaign, which went towards the meal procurement and preparation for those in the New South Wales South Coast, Southern Highlands, North Coast and Wagga region. In May, we also distributed over 500 boxes of essential items including food and hygiene items such as face masks, to those unable to receive government support during COVID-19. The Syrian and Iranian refugees, as well as the Khmer and Vietnamese communities in Sydney were amongst those who received the packages.
Currently, we are in the midst of launching our Winter Warmer Hamper campaign, as approved of by the NSW State Government. Similar to the previous two projects this year, the campaign aims to deliver kits with winter essentials to help fellow Australians who may be struggling from the chilly winter. Items include blankets from Ikea, face masks, and other food items. Although we would like to help everyone, due to budget constraints the target demographic for the Winter Warmer Hamper is the culturally and lingually-diverse community (CALD), as well as single-parent families.
On an international scale, Good Neighbors Australia assisted the partner base in Vietnam. We provided the funds for community-based projects, which ranged from procuring medical supplies to activity-support. The Good Neighbors team in Vietnam worked tirelessly to maintain contact with sponsored families and children, to check on their wellbeing during the outbreak. Pets belonging to these sponsored families were also given aid-relief. On top of that, 2940 face masks, 454 dry hand-wash sanitisers and 12 thermometers were distributed for children in both primary and secondary schools. All activities were conducted in line with the social distancing protocols in Vietnam.
Meanwhile elsewhere in the globe, a (staff) volunteer from Good Neighbors Australia was featured on Héroes des de Casa, a Good Neighbors Guatemala project. The Guatemala team launched a singing competition and Facebook broadcast, with hopes of educating the community on hygienic practices, as well as creating communal entertainment for Guatemalans in their homes.
On every day of the year – and not just on World Humanitarian Day – Good Neighbors Australia’s Support a Community Program is at the heart of Good Neighbors’ efforts in making the world a better place. Good Neighbors partners have more than 210 Community Development Projects (CDP) across 43 countries, as a base of our program implementation. Good Neighbors’ CDP-based approach contributes to broader service delivery by addressing the community’s needs and covers: Water & Sanitation, Education, Health & Medical, Income Generation and Emergency Relief.
On World Humanitarian Day, it is a time for commemoration. For appreciation. And most importantly, for the continual reminder that we are all part of a global community. Compassion is the driving heart behind humanity, and we should all remember that we are neighbours.