Humanity at Its Finest

volunteer woman in food drive
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The pandemic brought so much pain and destruction. The numbers are sobering reminders of death and fear. But it also gives hope because we are blessed enough not to be part of the statistics. With this in mind, we need to get out there and help others. It is only through this that we can survive Covid-19.

Many faceless institutions provide much-needed relief. Several famous brands lend a helping hand during calamities. For example, are you aware that Del Monte Philippines sponsor at least 300 students for the 2019-2020 school year? It is heartwarming to hear that each time we buy Del Monte canned fruit, we indirectly help those kids, too.

Most of us do not recognize most of these organizations. It is time for us to acknowledge the help that they have given. Let us tip our hats to them.

Oxfam

Oxfam is an abbreviation of The Oxford Committee for Famine Relief. At the height of World War II, a group of Quakers and Oxford scholars created it. They founded it in response to the plight of the Greeks after the Axis power conquered their country.

After the war, it continued giving relief to poor people across the continent. When the situation in Europe improved, they moved on to helping developing nations. They fight for the following causes:

  • Equality – They believe that everyone must be treated fairly and should enjoy the same rights and opportunities.
  • Empowerment – They believe that people should have the ability to make their own decisions.
  • Solidarity – They believe in global collaboration to make a just and sustainable world.
  • Inclusiveness – They believe in diversity.
  • Accountability – They also believe that they are responsible for their actions and their inactivity.
  • Courage – They encourage people to speak the truth and to act for the sake of justice.

In 1965, the Oxford Committee changed its name to Oxfam. They marked another milestone in 1995 when they expanded into Oxfam International. Currently, they have 21 partners that are based all around the world.

During Typhoon Haiyan, Oxfam was one of the organizations that helped affected areas. They coordinated with other NGOs to empower families to rise beyond the ashes.

volunteers planting trees

Plan International

Plan International is another charitable institution that focuses on the rights of children, especially girls. They work in 71 countries all over the world. They carry out programs on child protection, education, reproductive health, and water sanitation. They also train people in Japan, Haiti, and Colombia about disaster preparedness.

A British journalist and an aid worker founded Plan International during the Spanish Civil War. They wanted to give accommodation, education, and food to children affected by the said revolution. The first volunteers work as foster parents of those kids.

During World War II, their responsibility doubled. They worked in England. But they provided relief for children all over the continued. When the war ended, they continued helping children in the following countries:

  • Belgium
  • China
  • Czechoslovakia
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Poland

Just like Oxfam, they slowly reached out to other countries after Europe recovered. They focused on developing nations. In 1962, they awarded then US First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy an honorary chairmanship. Twelve years after that, they changed their name to Plan International.

In the 1980s, a few more countries began contributing to the organization’s funds. In the late 80s, the United Nations Economic and Social Council acknowledged the NGO’s work. Recently, they assisted the people in Haiti in the aftermath of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit the country last month.

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement

In layman’s terms, they are known as the Red Cross and are one of the most recognized organizations worldwide. The Nobel Prize Committee even acknowledged their contribution to humanity three times. It is the oldest NGO among the foundations that we have enumerated today.

In the 19th century, Henry Dunant, a Swiss businessman, published his firsthand account of the inhumane conditions of the soldiers fighting in the Battle of Solferino. His work moved Gustave Moynier, another Swiss. He discussed the book with other members of the Geneva Society for Public Welfare.

These two gentlemen eventually formed the International Committee of the Red Cross. Several years after their deaths, their brainchild collaborated with other Red Cross societies to provide medical aid to soldiers in the First World War. They also set up an agency to trace POWs in the hope of establishing communications with their respective loved ones.

Sadly, the ICRC received backlash for its indifference to the Holocaust. But the Swedish Red Cross under Count Bernadotte was silently negotiating with Nazi Germany to rescue Jews. Together with Dr. Felix Kersten, they evacuated at least 15,000 prisoners from concentration camps.

After World War II, ICRC continued with its mission. Sadly, working for the Red Cross has become dangerous during the Cold War. Many of its delegates have lost their lives since then. They celebrated their centennial with its third Nobel Peace Prize. In 1990, the UN gave it observer status in the UN General Assembly.

The world can become a better place if we work together. We can recover from the ravages of the pandemic. As the Beetles said in their song, we can work it out.

 

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