Today, August 19th, is designated by the United Nations General Assembly as World Humanitarian Day: a day to recognize the sacrifices and contributions of humanitarian workers around the world who risk their lives to give others help and hope. It is also a day to examine our own lives and consider what more we can do to help those people enduring conflict, disaster and hardship.
As the UN states:
There is never a year without humanitarian crises (at this moment over 12 million people are suffering in the Horn of Africa due to a catastrophic combination of conflict, high food prices and drought). Wherever there are people in need, there are people who help them. Aid workers help people who have lost their homes, loved ones and sources of income.
These humanitarians often brave great danger, far from home. They work long hours, in the most difficult conditions. Their efforts save lives in conflict and natural disaster. They also draw the world closer together by reminding us that we are one family, sharing the same dreams for a peaceful planet, where all people can live in safety, and with dignity.
On World Humanitarian Day, we honour these aid workers and thank them for their dedication. And we pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice – in Afghanistan, Haiti and beyond. Too many have died, or suffered their own loss, in the course of duty. We pledge to do all we can to ensure the world’s humanitarians are kept safe to do their essential work.
The World Humanitarian Day website provides information, stories and interactive games for those interested in learning more about humanitarian work and how they can become involved. Of course another great way, especially for youngsters to learn about humanitarian work and what it entails, is via books. It is interesting to note that over the past few years there has been an increasing number of children’s and young adult books (both fiction and non-fiction) that feature areas of humanitarian work. Deborah Ellis’ books and Rukhsana Khan‘s Wanting Mor immediately come to mind, and others include:
Armando and the Blue Tarp School by Edith Hope Fine and Judith Pinkerton Josephson, illustrated by Hernan Sosa
Books for Children of the World: The Story of Jella Lepman by Sydelle Pearl, illustrated by Danlyn Iantorno
The Brighter Side of the Road: Upbeat and Offbeat Yarn from Home and Abroad, edited by Helen Coughlan and Janet Lawrence
Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed, illustrated by Doug Chayka
Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg and Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and Susan Roth, illustrated by Susan Roth
One Well: The Story of Water on Earth by Rochelle Strauss, illustrated by Rosemary Woods
A Song for Cambodia by Michelle Lord, illustrated by Shino Arihara
Please feel free to share your choices in our comments section.