Every year on August 19th, we mark our calendars for  World Humanitarian Day, a global day of recognition for those who give up their time, talents, and sometimes their safety to help address the needs of the world’s most vulnerable.

This year, the focus of World Humanitarian day is on communities around the world who are targeted by violent conflict, and the humanitarians who risk their own safety to care for those affected by violence.

The realities of violent conflict in vulnerable communities, like those we work alongside in central Africa, has never been lost on us. Over the course of our work in central Africa, we have lost friends and heroes to violent conflict, and have reported hundreds of attacks, abductions, and killings through our LRA Crisis Tracker. Those stories, and our strong belief in the dignity and interconnection of all life, are the reasons we are wholeheartedly committed to ending violence and exploitation in our world’s most vulnerable communities.

As we prepare to pay tribute to humanitarians around the world tomorrow, we wanted you to hear from some of our heroes who are on the frontlines of ending conflict in central Africa; our incredible community partners in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We asked some of them why they chose to become humanitarians in their communities. Here’s what they had to say:

Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 10.32.51 AM

“At DIVAS, our work is focused on the protection of vulnerable people and child protection is an essential part of that. Part of what we do is welcome children who come out of captivity in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and give them a temporary home where they can receive support and begin healing from the trauma they have experienced before they go back to their families. We want to make sure that children are respected and supported especially if they have committed crimes or been involved with armed groups. We need to break the cycle of violence and working with our partners like Invisible Children has been a great help for our work.”
– Marceline, from DIVAS, an Invisible Children community partner in DRC

Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 10.43.01 AM

“I have 11 children and currently 16 people live at my house. I love children. My heart is big enough to welcome all the children who have been traumatized and who have suffered. I am convinced that my goal in life is to make sure that all children are safe and that they have the capacities and the capabilities they deserve to start living again after their trauma. My children are becoming humanitarians too, as they help the children we welcome without necessarily realizing it. They help children go back to being children, the children they were before being robbed and taken away by the armed groups.”
– Fora, one of many ‘Host Mothers’ who provides a home for children returning from LRA captivity.

Screen Shot 2017-08-14 at 4.30.18 PM

“Human beings must be protected wherever they are, regardless of their race, religion or political affiliation but as long as certain factors prevent them from enjoying life easily, then the human being must be helped. Every humanitarian, in the name of human solidarity, must work to soothe human suffering wherever it is necessary.

“I chose to be a humanitarian to help my human brothers and sisters who are victims of war or any other catastrophe to regain their human dignity. I do this in the name of human solidarity, in my own community and everywhere else where men, women, or children are subject to suffering.”
– Ferdinand, from CDJP, an Invisible Children community partner in DRC

Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 10.47.11 AM

“Our work as humanitarians is to empower our community to help protect civilians and to reinforce our capacity to provide for one another. At SAIPED we are helping communities who have been affected by violence to recover and prevent violence. We even have programs that help empower youth to create their own income generating activities which helps to prevent them from joining armed groups, whichever group that may be.”
– Germaine, from SAIPED, an Invisible Children community partner in DRC

Everyday, we work alongside these and so many other heroes to ensure that some of the most isolated and vulnerable communities in central Africa are no longer the targets of violence and exploitation. Through equipping these communities with tools like our Early Warning Radio Network, and and trainings in conflict mediation and trauma healing our central African team and partners are helping equip thousands of Central Africans to make their communities safer.

Join with these heroes by calling on leaders around the world to ensure that civilians and the humanitarians who come alongside them are #NotATarget.

Sign the World Humanitarian Day Petition at worldhumanitarianday.org.

Take it one step further by helping to ensure that heroes like Marceline, Fora, Ferdinand, and Germaine are able to continue supporting their own communities and the communities around them. Sign up to become a monthly donor today. Your support will help fund our innovative, community-based programs that are helping end violent conflict in central Africa and ensure that thousands more families are #NotATarget.