World Humanitarian Day, 19th August 2015
World Humanitarian Day, 19th August 2015
19th August marks World Humanitarian Day. This year people are donating their social media newsfeeds to give a voice to the voiceless. Read and share these 6 compelling stories of incredible resilience, courage and survival.
Khaled Farah is a first responder for the White Helmets in Syria’s Civil Defence team. Bakers, tailors, engineers, pharmacists, painters, carpenters, students and many more, the White Helmets are volunteers from all walks of life. Khaled is one of 2,697 volunteers, including more than 80 women who risk their lives every day.
Four years ago the conflict began with peaceful anti-government protests. Now almost 200,000 Syrians have lost their lives.
On July 11th 2014, a barrel bomb was dropped on the Ansari neighbourhood of Aleppo. Khaled arrived on the scene to help pull people out. As the team pulled out two families from the debris a mother cried out, her 2-week old baby was missing.
As Khaled rested his head against the concrete he could hear a baby crying. He called over to the team and they start digging, very carefully. They finally spot the child and pull him out to safety.
There are over 2,700 White Helmets in Syria and so far they have saved over 22,000 lives.
Oliver Percovich is founder of Skateistan, a non-profit organisation using skateboarding as a tool for empowering young people.
In Afghanistan half of the population is under the age of 16, and 70% of the population is under the age of 25. Most women are not allowed to work and most girls can’t go to school, it is even deemed inappropriate for them to ride a bicycle.
Skateboarding is so new in Afghanistan that nobody has had a chance to say girls aren’t allowed to do it – so they keep on skating.
Skateistan has emerged as Afghanistan’s first skateboarding school, and is dedicated to teaching both male and female students. They have constructed the two largest indoor sport facilities in Afghanistan.
Today in Afghanistan, 40% of the skateboarders are girls. In the rest of the world, girls only make up 5%. Skateboarding is now the largest female sport in Afghanistan, and Skateistan continues to use it to engage, educate and empower girls and boys through the community.
Dr Mike Karch is a volunteer doctor working with the International Medical Corps’ Emergency Response team.
The Nepal earthquake in April 2015 completely destroyed the remote village of Laprak. 19 people were killed and the village, located 9 hours away from the closest road, was completely cut off from any kind of medical service.
The relief team were helicoptered in to provide lifesaving medical care and supplies; however aftershocks caused massive landslides which slowed relief efforts. Eventually the team were able to establish a medical unit at 10,000ft and people from nearby villages started arriving.
When a translator explained that a woman’s husband was still stuck down at the village, Mike formed a rescue squad to go and attend to him. They ran down the mountain as fast as they could and found the patient. The man had sustained a spinal injury and a stroke; neighbours had tied him to a rock pile to stabilise him. Mike and the other doctor had to take turns carrying him on their backs, alternating every 50 feet.
The group finally made it back up the mountain and transferred the patient to a helicopter, to be taken to a local hospital for treatment.
Thair Orfahli was a student at the Arab International University in Damascus when he was forced to flee his home due to the ongoing civil war.
He first took a 2 hour car journey to neighbouring Lebanon. Syrian refugees now make up one of four people in Lebanon and as a result services are being strained and tensions are rising. Thair felt unsafe here and decided to move on to Egypt.
Thair arrived in Egypt and was able to stay with a friend and continue his studies. Unfortunately his passport was stolen and the Syrian embassy in Cairo would not issue a new one. Without a passport he could not get a visa to stay in Egypt. If the police found him he would be sent back to Syria where his life will be in danger.
To get out of Egypt, Thair saved up $2,000 to buy a one way ticket to Italy with other refugees. Although he has heard numerous stories of boats sinking, he had limited options.
He survived the 10 day crossing meeting many inspiring refugees along the way. He made his way through Italy and eventually ended up in western Germany where his application for political asylum is being processed.
The Za’atari Refugee camp in Jordan was created to host Syrians fleeing the violent Syrian civil war. Over 80,000 refugees live here. Anwar Abujesh is a circus trainer helped Finn Church Aid start a circus school in the camp.
In the beginning the circus school took place in a refugee tent. Today the kids train in a padded floor hangar divided by a curtain. Children and youths at Za’atari need a way to unwind and focus their attention on something positive. The circus school gives them hope for the future. It teaches them that it’s OK to make mistakes, they learn to trust each other and work as a team.
Nuri is a sherpa who has spent his life helping climbers from all over the world hike the mountains of Nepal. When the earthquake hit Nepal in April 2015, Nuri was helping Don Bowie and his team climb the Annapurna Circuit.
In the middle of the night they were woken from their sleep. The ground was convulsing and shaking below them. They were lucky, they were all safe, but they could hear on the radio that hundreds of villages were flattened below.
Bowie’s team decided to remain in Nepal and help where they could. Though Nuri’s own home had been destroyed and he longed to be with his family he chose to stay and help the World Food Programme’s efforts to bring humanitarian relief.
Nuri and the crew worked for 3 weeks to get the Larke Pass open for supplies, and prepared mules for the long journey to bring food to remote villages. They trekked through cold temperatures, low oxygen and 5,100m altitude, to reach village after village.
For more information about World Humanitarian Day and the #ShareHumanity campaign visit www.worldhumanitarianday.org.