19 August was World Humanitarian Day. This day was initially declared by the United Nations back in 2008 after a terrible terrorist attack on the UN headquarters in Bagdad in 2003, where 22 people were killed.
Nearly every day some disaster happens – whether it is war, terrorist attacks, floods, earthquakes, tidal waves, hurricanes, disease, poverty or hunger. These things cause huge suffering for all the people who are caught up in these events and, sadly, it is usually the poorest people who suffer the most.
Humanitarian assistance workers go all-out to provide help in these situations both in the short and long term. Often these workers put themselves at risk too and sometimes even die in their efforts to help other people.
We can all be humanitarians. There is no special training needed to do the right thing every now and then. Sometimes it is as simple as delivering blankets or warm clothes to the needy when there is a very cold spell. Or helping out in your local community if something untoward – like a flood -happens.
Basically it all boils down to being kind and thinking of others. The definition of kindness is the quality of being friendly, considerate and generous.
It’s not very hard to be any of those things, but sometimes it does require conscious thought. Often we get so caught up in everyday life that we forget there are many people who have considerably less than we do and could use a bit of a helping hand. It could be as simple as knowing somebody at school who needs to share your lunch occasionally.
Remember a while ago we talked about having “Friendship benches” at school. Where kids who don’t have any friends, or just maybe need somebody to talk to, can go and sit and know for sure that somebody will come and talk to them. That also boils down to being kind – and generous. You don’t have to be generous with money always. You can be generous of spirit or with your time.
There might even be an elderly person in your neighbourhood who is lonely and could use somebody to chat to or maybe needs help with shopping or garden work.
The main thing is for us all to keep an open mind and not miss out on opportunities to do the odd good deed. Or many good deeds!