There is a saying that goes: It takes a village to raise a child. In years gone by, community living was a given. Historically, people lived in groups or tribes for safety, socialization, and shared resources. Our lives have been programmed to live close to others, to share food and tools, to protect each other, and to exchange ideas but a lot has changes to challenge the concept of community. Families no longer co-habitat as intergenerationally as they used to and with the increase of international employment more readily available and the prevalence of divorced or single parent families, it means that families often fracture and live further and further apart.
Social media has redefined “connection” and “friendship,” leaving us looking at screens more than connecting with the people around us. Somewhere along the way, we’ve lost the “village” that we need to raise kids in nurturing, creative, and safe ways. And as a result, many people feel isolated and alone in their struggles.
In the same way, it takes a village to support an individual in a humanitarian crisis. Whenever and wherever people are in need, there are others who help them. Sometimes, they are people affected by the same situation or challenge, but they are always first to respond when disaster strikes, and they do need a global community to support them. Away from the limelight and not seeking viral social media posts, they come together to ease suffering and bring hope.
At HealingLeaves we always say Help Us to Help Other and with ever increasing humanitarian needs around the world, this year’s World Humanitarian Day (WHD) embraces this old metaphor of collective efforts to produce global gratitude of humanitarian work because it truly takes a village. The 2022 WHD campaign highlights the thousands of volunteers, professionals and crisis-affected people who deliver urgent health care, shelter, food, protection, water and much more.
Attacks against aid workers were more lethal in 2021 despite there being fewer major incidents relative to the two previous years. The 268 reported attacks resulted in 203 aid workers seriously injured, 117 kidnapped, and 141 killed—the most fatalities recorded since 2013. Most of the violence took place in South Sudan, Afghanistan and Syria.
Indiscriminate military attacks stand to become an increasingly greater obstacle to humanitarian response in the Ukraine, where prospects of successful resolution with the Russian Federation’s military appear bleak. The second largest known cause of death for aid workers in 2021 was airstrikes and shelling, driven mainly by Syria and Yemen. This type of casualty is expected to rise significantly in 2022 due to the war in Ukraine, where rocket attacks and shelling threaten civilians and aid providers equally.
Despite these very real threats to their lives, you will always find the humanitarian aid workers on the frontlines of the conflict – risking their lives in aid of others. They push past fear, they suffer untold trauma, they sacrifice more than we can ever imagine and the witness indescribable horrors, but they always show up and they desperately need a village to support them going in and coming out of every challenging situation. Today and always, we remember them, we support them, and we salute them.
On World Humanitarian Day we honour all humanitarians from all walks of life, killed and injured in the line of duty.