By Anand Holla
Every year, World Humanitarian Day (WHD) is held on August 19 to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and to mobilise people to advocate for a more humane world. The theme for this year’s WHD was ‘One Humanity’, and a Kenyan community group in Qatar, in its own compassionate little ways, brought smiles on the faces of dozens back home.
By gathering and sending important supplies to the needy in Nairobi, the Green Maasai Troupe made sure they mirrored the spirit of WHD, in both thought and action. Zacchaeus Njuguna, who heads the group, told Community, “We have been preparing for our WHD activity for the past two months. We organised and collected clothes, shoes, bedsheets and linen from various people — the only condition being that they should be in good condition. Most of the materials were collected from within our group, which currently comprises 28 Kenyan expats. Those who couldn’t contribute to the cause went to the market and bought some new clothes.”
On August 19, the Green Maasai Troupe members convened at Al-Arabi Park, shared and packed the materials which were then sent to an orphanage for both children and grown-ups, in Kibera, which is just five km from Nairobi. “Those people don’t have access to clothes and bedding,” Njuguna explained, “All of us pitched in money to cover the cost of the group cargo containing all materials. A friend of ours who was going on his annual vacation just then, took some of clothes with him so as to distribute it in Kibera.”
Apart from this, the group went to Hamad General Hospital and met several patients who could do with some words of solace and encouragement. “For instance, there was a Kenyan who was recuperating from injuries sustained in a road accident, a Sudanese who was in the Emergency Ward; we just went up to all of them and spoke to them as their families are very far from here and they need someone around to give them strength,” Njuguna said, “For us, WHD was about giving back to the community in whichever way we could.”
However, this isn’t the first time that the Green Maasai Troupe swung to the aid of the less-privileged. “Last year, too, we had gathered clothes and materials the same way but had sent it to Qatar Charity instead of Kenya,” Njuguna said.
WHD was designated by the General Assembly seven years ago to coincide with the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the United Nations (UN) headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq. “This World Humanitarian Day, the UN and its partners are calling for global solidarity with the more than 130 million people around the world who need humanitarian assistance to survive,” the UN says about WHD, “This year, WHD follows on one of the most pivotal moments in the history of humanitarian action: the World Humanitarian Summit, held from 23 to 24 May in Istanbul. During the Summit, world leaders came together to declare their collective support for the new Agenda for Humanity and commit to bold action to reduce suffering and deliver better for the millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance.”
Various events were held around the world on August 19 to honour the work of humanitarian workers and to celebrate the theme of ‘One Humanity’. UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, had said, “World Humanitarian Day is an annual reminder of the need to act to alleviate the suffering. It is also an occasion to honour the humanitarian workers and volunteers toiling on the frontlines of crises. I pay tribute to these dedicated women and men who brave danger to help others at far greater risk.”
For Njuguna and his friends, bringing WHD in their own fashion is just one of many noble deeds they have been part of such as various environment drives. Called Turning waste into art, a bottle cap art project was thought up by Njuguna and two other Kenyan expats, Peter Kimani and Gabriel Kamiti. At QP’s Environment Fair, they made murals of animals, fishes and birds using plastic bottle caps, and created a mural that raises environmental awareness using 60,000 caps, in collaboration with the Solid Waste Interest Group (SWIG) of the Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC), among many others.
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