By Susan Maina
 We may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race.”Kofi Annan.
On 19th August 2012, we join all Africans and the world in celebrating World
Humanitarian Day 2012. The above quote byKofi Annan, former UN Secretary General and Nobel Peace Prize, is one that we should reflect on this day. The day provides us with a great opportunity to pay tribute to men and women who work in difficult and sometimes dangerous conditions and who dedicate their work and their lives to the service of humanity.

World Humanitarian Day was established by the General Assembly of the UN in December 2008 and was first observed in 2009. It’s a day dedicated to humanitarians worldwide, as well as to increasing public understanding of humanitarian assistance activities. The date was chosen to correspond with the August 19 2003 bombing of the UN Office in Baghdad in which the then Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 of his colleagues were killed. For more information please visit

The Day honors humanitarian workers who have lost their lives or injured themselves in the course of their work, and to acknowledge the ongoing work of humanitarian staff around the world. More than 700 humanitarian workers have died or experienced the most dangerous situations while trying to help those in need. Their work is to mainly provide support for different world challenges such as hunger, gender-based violence, refugees and displaced people, help for children, as well as clean water and access to sanitation.

The campaign slogan for this year I Was Here is about making your mark by doing something good, somewhere, for someone else. I know you may be asking yourself, how can I contribute? What can I really do to help? Do one remarkable thing for another human being, you can feed a hungry child living on the street, visit a refugee camp or a displaced people’s camp and donate food, clothing and time; nothing is too small when one is helping. The UN and humanitarian aid organizations have launched a global campaign to shine a spotlight on humanitarian work and encourage people around the world to get involved by doing something good for others. Make your mark and say, ‘I was here’. To show your support for World Humanitarian Day visit

I believe that humanity isn’t limited to just one day a year. We should aspire to exercise our humanity at every opportunity, every day.  We should not sit idly when we witness injustices done to individuals in our society, we must do all we can, either with our hands, our voices or whatever means we have to counter it. We have to start with ourselves, in our own neighborhoods, places of work, communities and globally.  It begins with each one of us.

  Susan Maina is currently an Intern at the Gender & Development Resource Centre, African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET). She can be reached at email:

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