by Rameesha Qazi
World Humanitarian Day was commemorated for the first time on August 19, 2009. The day was designated by the United Nations General Assembly to raise awareness about humanitarian assistance world-wide and to pay tribute to the people who risk their lives to provide it.
This year the theme of World Humanitarian Day is #RealLifeHeroes – the campaign is focusing on how humanitarians are continuing their work in light of COVID-19.
2020 has been a hard year for everyone. No matter where in the world you are, COVID-19 has had some kind of impact on your life.
COVID has been a challenge globally to all industries and sectors, but especially humanitarian aid operations. Our work occurs in contexts that are fragile and recovering from other kinds of crises. Contexts where populations are already facing health risks or food shortages, countries in the midst of active conflict, and people facing more economic insecurity than ever before. With the added complications and risks from the COVID-19 pandemic, those delivering humanitarian aid have had to innovate and adapt in order to reach those who are most vulnerable.
During these unprecedented times, there are stories coming to light of people who are providing lifesaving services all around the world, and ours is just one of them.
GlobalMedic has been working around the clock since COVID struck in Canada to support our frontline workers and those who have been most affected by the pandemic. We set up critical infrastructure tents at hospitals to support their pandemic response plans and provided hand sanitizer to frontline workers and long-term care facilities to support #RealLifeHeroes.
We have also set up tents at food banks and sites where members of the community facing food insecurity can gather to access food assistance while maintaining social distancing and public health guidelines.
We also partnered with Hand Up Toronto to help “Feed the Six” with nutritious food hampers to help feed thousands of families in need. Feed the Six has distributed more than 10,800 hampers to families in need across the GTA, reaching nearly 1,000 families every weekend through contactless delivery. The innovative program is extremely cost effective, with food being purchased in bulk and re-packaged by volunteers into family sized portions and it only costs $50 to feed 10 families in need for up to two weeks!
Our volunteers have been coming in every day of the week to pack aid being delivered throughout Canada. While things look different in terms of how we’re operating and the number of people we can bring together, we have not slowed down. Our team of staff and volunteers is busier than ever but humbled by the opportunity to support Canadians in any way we can. The work our volunteers have done throughout this pandemic has increased our impact in our home communities. Our volunteers are #RealLifeHeroes.
While our efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic have had a larger focus on domestic needs, our responses are still wide reaching. We have been supporting food insecure families on the island of Grand Bahama, who are still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Dorian while also being impacted by the economic hardships caused by the pandemic.
We are also focusing on getting resourses to personnel on the ground in Lebanon, to respond to the explosion that occurred in Beirut. While traditionally our Rapid Response Team may have deployed to support efforts on the ground, the current limitations caused by COVID-19 mean that our team is adapting to ensure our support is reaching people who need it the most.
GlobalMedic would like to thank our volunteers, as well as all front-line workers and those who take on “boots on the ground” roles around the world, as they are the #RealLifeHeroes today and every day.
Who are the #RealLifeHeroes in your community?