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Those in need of humanitarian aid are also usually the ones doing the helping – and they are increasingly more prepared to provide assistance, reports Malteser International ahead of World Humanitarian Day on August 19, a day to honor humanitarian workers who provide life-saving assistance to victims of conflict and disaster.
“Often times, those who have already been affected by tragedy and disaster are also those more willing and able to help whenever they’re in the position to do so,” says Sid Johann Peruvemba, Vice-Secretary General and program director at Malteser International.“It is important to empower these workers with the tools and knowledge they need to save lives when it comes down to it.”
Malteser International recruits and trains humanitarian workers in its project countries, often from the same vulnerable population that benefits from the work. Many who start as beneficiaries later become helpers themselves in disaster risk reduction, water and health programs.
“To increase our impact, we are making sure the most vulnerable groups in the communities we serve, such as ethnic minorities and people with disabilities, are included into our work – not only as recipients of our help, but as active participants who help shape their communities,” tells Peruvemba.
Last year alone, Malteser International conducted 718 Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) trainings, where children, youth and adults learned both in theory and practice how to properly behave before, during and after a natural disaster, and how to quickly provide help to others.
One of those participants was Nhung, a 61-year-old Vietnamese who lost both of his legs after stepping on a landmine. He joined Malteser International’s training on flood preparedness in Quang Nam province to learn more about how to stay safe during the regular floods that affect his village. After the training, Nhung decided to get active for his community. “I wanted to take over some part of the responsibility if they need more help during a disaster, so I joined in the Village Disaster Management Committee,” he explains. That means he is in charge of giving his neighbors an early warning in case of flooding.
In addition, many of the 2,963 people who participated in Malteser International’s professional trainings and educational sessions in 2012 are able to use their new skills for humanitarian purposes. For instance, the organization trains Community Health Workers in two refugee camps in Thailand – in this way, camp residents can both learn a new occupation and help their fellow refugees.
Malteser International employs nearly 900 staff members in over 100 projects in 25 countries – including 739 local and 83 expatriate staff members in the field as well as 45 staff members in its headquarters. The organization also counts on the support of around 70 local and national partner organizations with hundreds of humanitarian workers on the ground. Together, these workers provided help for nearly 10 million people in 2012.
Malteser International is the worldwide relief agency of the Sovereign Order of Malta for humanitarian aid. The organisation provides aid in about 100 projects in more than 20 countries without distinction of religion, race or political persuasion. Christian values and the humanitarian principles of impartiality and independence are the foundation of its work. For further information: www.malteser-international.org and www.orderofmalta.int