Every year since 2009 the world has celebrated World Humanitarian Day on August 19. This a day to recognize humanitarian workers across the globe working to promote safety, well-being, and dignity for all people, often at great personal risk and sacrifice.
According to the United Nations’ Global Humanitarian Review 2020, over 167.6 million people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance. But providing aid to vulnerable people can pose risks for humanitarians, especially those working in insecure regions, like central Africa. Today, as the world faces the effects of the COVID–19 pandemic, the need and the risks are even greater. It’s important to celebrate the people who are providing support to communities facing the challenges of today.
In honor of World Humanitarian Day, we want to introduce you to some of the Real Life Heroes who we work alongside in central Africa every day.
Sister Angélique Namaika
Sister Angélique is a tireless advocate for people impacted by the violence of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). In her community of Dungu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), she supports women and children impacted by the LRA by providing education, job training, and medical care to those in need. She also provides a home for children orphaned by the conflict.
We first met Sister Angélique in 2012 when our President and CEO, Lisa Dougan, had the privilege of accompanying her in Washington, D.C., New York, and across Europe, where she met with global leaders to advocate for the needs of women and children throughout northeastern DRC affected by LRA violence. Since then, Sister Angelique has become a friend and inspiration to all of us and Invisible Children has continued to work arm-in-arm with her in support of DRC’s most vulnerable.
This year, Sister Angélique is being recognized by the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative as an Aurora Humanitarian and one of four finalists for the 2020 Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity.
Local Peace Committees
Across the eastern Central African Republic (CAR) and northeastern DRC, hundreds of local heroes volunteer as peace committee members. These local groups work to improve safety and address factors that make their communities vulnerable to violence.
Peace committee members are at the core of all of Invisible Children’s work in central Africa. These local leaders represent the community and advocate for the needs of their families and neighbors. They are the local radio operators, participating in our Early Warning Network. They are the volunteers who we train to address the mental health needs of their communities. And they are the trusted leaders within their communities who help mediate conflict to prevent violence.
Mama Courageous was given her name for her courage and compassion in caring for children escaping from LRA captivity. As an Invisible Children-trained host mother, Mama Courageous plays a key role in our work to reunite former LRA captives with their families by caring for escapees as our team works on locating their families and arranging for their transportation home.
In her own words:
“I am a mother myself and I want to help children escaping the LRA with their trauma. They have been tortured, beaten, humiliated, and sometimes even raped. I want to help restore their dignity. I want to give them maternal love and to help them feel understood so that they have hope .”
In the last year, Mama Courageous has cared for dozens of children and helped them begin the process of recovering and reintegrating into their communities.
Invisible Children’s Team on the Ground
We would be remiss if we didn’t recognize our incredible and dedicated staff in CAR and DRC. Our program staff travel to some of the most hard-to-reach parts of central Africa to support local peacebuilders. They drive along bumpy roads, listen to the needs of communities, and train peace committee members.
We’re so grateful and proud to have a team of such thoughtful and committed team members. These humanitarian heroes are always ready to take on the difficult challenges to help communities prevent violence and protect each other.
These are only a few examples of the many incredible humanitarians who we work alongside every day. From our central African staff to local partner organizations to the Central Africans who are working every day to make their communities safer, there are humanitarian heroes everywhere we look. With your support, we can continue to work alongside them for a safer, brighter future.
Celebrate World Humanitarian Day by giving to support our work with Central African humanitarian heroes today.