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Celebrating humble heroes on World Humanitarian Day

World Vision
19 August 2014 by Rhonda Hirst
Celebrating humble heroes on World Humanitarian Day

One of our humble humanitarian heroes, Meg Sattler. Meg is an Australian living in Jordan, who is working on the Syrian Crisis.

Not many people can say that they are working for a cause that they truly believe in – for that, I know I am truly lucky. When asked to write about what inspires me, it wasn’t hard. Two groups of people immediately came to mind.

The people I thought of first are those you might think of too. I help amplify their voices through television, online and print media, helping them reach Australians with their stories – these are the people we work to assist. They are beyond inspiring – their resilience often dumbfounds me and their hope and faith for tomorrow gives me strength.

But I also think of another group, often less visible – these are the people I work with. They have to be some of the most selfless people in the world, who I am lucky enough to call my colleagues and some my friends. I’m talking about the people that work around the clock to save and improve the quality of lives in some of the world’s hardest disaster zones. Today is World Humanitarian Day – their day.

Around the world this day is recognised as a chance to celebrate the people who spend their lives helping other people, and importantly, a time to recognise the danger and adversity they often face. It also marks the anniversary of the day a bomb hit the UN building in Baghdad, Iraq, killing 22 aid workers and wounding over 100 people. That was 11 years ago but I remember that day vividly. Following the attack the UN withdrew 600 staff from Iraq – the threat on aid workers was extreme.

With the prevalence of conflict in the world right now, it’s no surprise that many aid workers continue to face danger, and sadly for some, death, while doing their work. In South Sudan, five aid workers were killed only a few weeks ago.

Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General has honoured those killed while providing aid to others. “In recent weeks, dozens of humanitarians – including members of the UN family – have lost their lives in South Sudan and Gaza. Too many people have died or suffered from deliberate attacks. Humanitarian workers and their families are hit hardest by these crimes.”

I say goodbye to colleagues travelling to locations that are in the nightly news, as they give up the safety and security which comes with living in Australia.

Meg Sattler is one of our home grown humanitarians, now based in Jordan as the Communications Director for the Syrian response.  Her incredible passion to share the word about this largely forgotten crisis is pursued day in, day out.

“Sometimes people ask me what, to me, is the worst thing about this crisis. I always answer in the same way. But it was only when reflecting on this one day that I realised my nominated ‘worst thing’ was not really part of the crisis at all. I feel like nobody cares.”

Meg wrote a blog about the crisis in Syria earlier this year and sadly as she predicted, the situation has only continued to deteriorate.

I’m lucky in my work to have colleagues from beyond our shores and friendships that extend across oceans. Last year I met the committed and passionate Communications Manager for World Vision Lebanon, Patricia Mouamar. Having lived through a civil war herself, she truly understands the fear and despair of the Syrian refugees she has dedicated her life to helping.

“Will he still remember them (the sounds of planes) when he grows up? Will he remember running for his life many times? I don’t know. I know I do,” Patricia writes in a blog about the Syrian Crisis.

Patricia takes the time to listen to people who are desperate for information, making calls and connecting them with others to try and provide answers to their questions, from finding lost relatives to accessing healthcare for their children.  She does this above and beyond her role at World Vision, because she is true humanitarian.

For staff like Patricia, flying home is not an option. Lebanon is her home. For another of my colleagues, this fact hits hard.

Mohammed, World Vision’s program manager in Gaza, recently lost seven members of his family – all women and children. Despite this enormous loss, he has continued working to help others in a situation where the need is great. His ability to place his own mourning aside and provide aid to others is hard to fathom and although he would not like being called a hero, I think he is the epitome of a humanitarian hero.

This week World Vision will be featuring some of our Humanitarian Heroes on Instagram. It’s just a small glimpse – a few representatives of the thousands of staff around the world striving to make a better, kinder and safer life for children. Look out for these often invisible heroes. Send them a shout of support or thanks. I know I will.

Rhonda Hirst Rhonda Hirst

Rhonda Hirst is Emergency Marketing Manager at World Vision and is currently working in the Philippines for the first anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan.


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