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Kuwaiti activists: aid work unparalleled experience
August 19, 2014, 8:20 am
Lana Al-Rushaid working to help Syrian refugees in Lebanon

"Work on the field and in the midst of victims of natural and other humanitarian disasters is an unparalleled experience for the workers who plant seeds of hope in the hearts of those in dire need of support," Kuwaiti humanitarian activists told KUNA.

The activists were speaking to KUNA as the world is set to mark World Humanitarian Day 2014 on Tuesday, August 19, as designated by the United Nations' General Assembly.
Volunteer, paramedic, and field photographer Abdulrahman Al-Yousef for his part said he started with volunteer work at the Abeer II Center in service of people with special needs where he discovered "a world that abounds with sentiments of fraternity and solidarity and a field of work that is full of smiles, free of grudges, and characterized by peace." Al-Yousef was awarded the Kuwait Volunteer of the Year trophy in 2008 and had been abroad part of several humanitarian missions.

He said he found inner peace through ten years of volunteer work. He is most eager to jump to action upon hearing of a need for humanitarian work anywhere in the world, he said, and the positive spirit of this line of action spills into all aspects of his life and even affects his family life, he noted.

The activist recalled working to help orphans in Yemen and to aid flood victims in Bosnia, as well as working to help families in need in Kuwait, Lebanon, and Bahrain. He also noted he had worked in England in the area of rehabilitation of hospital patients and serving them.

"I was fortunate to join the team at The City Magazine, which is now part of my daily life, and this had enabled me to visit Yemen and take a closer glimpse of the life of an orphan, which taught me to appreciate patience and all the little things with which I am blessed." Founder of a volunteer group and with experience as field doctor and a volunteer in India, activist Sara Al-Timimi said the work enabled her to really learn about other cultures rather than just hear of them. "You don't get to enjoy the same feeling you get through field and volunteer work if you limit yourself to making a donation in the safety and comfort of your home," he argued. Direct contact with those in need of medical help in particular fills you with a sense of appreciation and gratitude for the education, knowledge, and resources you have access to as you actually help save lives, he continued.

Another activist, Abdelkireem Al-Shatti, said he entered this field with a feeling of being on the giving end, but now realizes he is actually on the receiving end. "In relief and volunteer work, you trade effort and sweat for contentment and true joy."

Working with people bearing the brunt of extreme poverty and others rendered homeless or on the run by war and strife puts you before the realization that they feel great joy at meeting the simplest demand and in the most modest of circumstances. "We in the more privileged societies, on the other hand, have an endless list of wants and needs and can rarely find a sense of satisfaction!" The volunteer then mentioned working in the field has its ironies.

"The work gives you a measure of satisfaction, but at the same time, seeing the tattered rags and the destitute faces makes you angry at your inability to provide something more decent for the needy," he explained.

On the administrative and organizational level, he said forming teams and securing the needed finances is greater a challenge in this field than in individual or collective business enterprises.

His experience with volunteer teamwork and seeing things start from seed to blossom to something immense and of international scope, he confessed, "teaches you to work in any environment and handle any kind of stress and challenge in life." Work in direct contact with refugees had brought on a major change in character for another volunteer. Lana Al-Rushaid said working to help Syrian refugees in Lebanon helped her change from a person who was angry at what such people suffer to one eager to lend a hand wherever and however possible.

She said the pity she feels is reserved for those who spend their lives engrossed in trivialities and have no care for others. "Humanitarian work changes your perspective and makes you a better person," she stressed.

World Humanitarian Day, August 19, is a time to recognize those who face danger and adversity in order to help others. The day was designated by the General Assembly to coincide with the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq.

World Humanitarian Day is also an opportunity to celebrate the spirit that inspires humanitarian work around the globe. This year the UN and its humanitarian partners continue their ground-breaking campaign called "The world needs more..." which is the first-of-its-kind project that turns words into aid.

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