This past June, I was at the InterAction conference, listening to the Love Choir sing a beautiful tribute to humanitarian workers who died on the job around the world during the past year.
“Five hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes; how do you measure a year in the life?”
In 2016, there were 150 attacks affecting 238 aid workers in 20 countries. Eighty-eight of them died. During the first three months of 2017, 35 aid workers died in 22 separate attacks.
Sitting there in June, a few of those names hit a little closer to home than others, because of mutual friends we had shared at several of those organizations.
Saturday, August 19 is World Humanitarian Day. It specifically coincides with a terrorist attack in Baghdad in 2003 on the same day that killed the United Nation’s top representative to the country, and since then has commemorated the losses among aid workers and advocated for their safety and security.
On Saturday, I’ll be playing softball in the middle of Kansas. Two of my colleagues, who I also count as friends, will be working at a hospital in Syria. I’d be lying if I said that doesn’t make me feel a little guilty some days. The truth is, we find humanitarians all around us. Whether it’s walking down an inner city street, handing out bottled water to those without a home on a hot summer day, or working in a hospital in Syria, you don’t have to look that far. Those are the people who make me uncomfortable in the best possible way. They inspire me every day to choose courage, even in the small things.
While reading this, you probably thought of someone who makes you feel that way. Someone who pushes your heart to become bigger. So take this moment, this one day that is nothing in the grand scheme of things, and tell them thank you. Thank you for being so brave. For not considering the risk, and only thinking of the reward. If there weren’t humanitarians willing to face the worst in our world, the worst in our world would always win.