Sometimes, it is good to look back at what was. Especially during times like these.
In The Soviet Union in the early 1920’s there was a famine. It was one of the largest natural disasters ever. This famine killed millions of people, displaced millions more.
And for a country coming out of WWI and the relief effort there, it was a cross roads for us.
Do we take up the humanitarian burden once again and in doing so support a government that we disapprove of? Or do we ignore the hundreds of thousands of people dying each week because we don’t get along with their leaders?
Herbert Hoover actually answered that question for us.
People remember him as the President during the Great Depression. Most people forget, or never knew, that he ran the relief effort in Europe after WWI. And he created the American Relief Administration. Hoover is really the father of the American Humanitarian Movement. He gave us this idea, as a nation, that we are more than we were. We are here to help others.
This was a novel concept. And one that, thankfully, our nation has never neglected.
With the Civil War in Syria, the 30 year Civil War in Congo, continuing sectarian violence in Iraq, unrest in Somalia, ethnic cleansing in Central African Republic… I could spend the rest of this post listing ongoing conflicts. And that isn’t even taking into account the ones like Ukraine where it is more a diplomatic fight than a military one (though that is happening too), America can not, and does not, turn a blind eye.
And it all started with Russia.
** There are many great aid organizations out there. And there are many not so great out there. PLEASE, before you donate ANYWHERE, do your due diligence.
Many of the big ones, like the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders/MSF and UNHCR would prefer that you donate to their general fund, rather than a specific fund. That way they can make sure the money goes where it really is needed, and they can shift funds if there is a disaster or tragedy to do the most good.
Specific funds are ok too if there is something you have a desire to do. Just explore the group and make sure that they are actually helping people, not just using the money for administrative costs or advertising.
And don’t forget, after all the glamour is gone: the famine ends, peace is declared; the people still need help. Peace Corps Partnerships are a great way to keep that help going, in a sustainable way.
Whatever you do, be it local, national or international, keep that American ideal alive. We are better when we help others.