True Humanitarians

arton174Recently, I attended a Conference on Disaster Management, which included a “simulation” of an earthquake. This was an impressive event where the earth trembled, buildings collapsed, cars caught fire, buildings blazing all over –– no Hollywood action film could have done it better. It was quite a frightening experience as you suddenly realize that you are not equipped to face this kind of situation.
All of a sudden, rescuers of all kinds –– the fire brigade, dog teams, first-aid teams –– were searching for survivors ; helicopters were flying in ; ambulances were driving back and forth evacuating the wounded. Radio teams were sending out messages : instructions for the local population and requests for aid.
Altogether, it was an impressive event, and it opened our eyes to a profession that we take for granted –– the rescuers. There exists a multitude of them –– some are specialized in searching for people who have been buried –– a dangerous task ; others locate the survivors and provide shelter and first aid.
These men and women are not always those you see in the news. Asked why they are willing to risk their lives to help others, one of them said : “I only hope that if something happens in my country that people will come to help us”.
“I’m from South Africa,” he continued, “and despite the fact that I’m Jewish, most of our operations have been in Arab countries –– this has never been a problem. We do not do politics, we are there to help. We are humanitarians, but we do not want to belong to the humanitarian aid business –– that’s the big difference. You cannot imagine the joy and satisfaction when you find a person alive, and that you have managed to get them out. We might never see this person again, but at least we have saved a life –– that is a satisfaction in itself.”
“I consider that everybody has the same right to be helped, and we do not adhere to politics. Who are they to tell us who to help and not to help –– human beings are the same everywhere, no matter what religion, race and background. We are all the same.”
So, on behalf of us all, I would like to say a huge thank-you to all those rescuers. Next time something happens I will definitely think about these men and women leaving their families behind and travelling to far away places to assist others in need. If there were more people with this attitude, perhaps our world would be a better place to live.
“I have long since come to believe that people never mean half of what they say, and that it is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions.” Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness, 1952 US writer & reformer (1897–1980)
Have a lovely day,