5 Incredible Aid Workers We Shouldn’t Forget

From rolling back LGBT rights to closing U.S. borders to citizens of certain Muslim-majority nations, it can be easy to fixate on the negative side of current events. But that can make people feel hopeless to improve the world and fight for social justice.

In honor of the U.N.’s World Humanitarian Day on August 19, here are a few international aid workers who’ve impacted communities for good.

1. Surray Bakkar

Physician Surray Bakkar fled Syria to Jordan, but he still treated people in his hometown of al-Houwla. Bakkar cared for Syrian revolution sympathizers and supporters of President Bashar al-Assad alike, treating anyone who was in need.

As the Human Dignity Forum notes, the Syrian secret service arrested and tortured him for treating sympathizers. Bakkar’s since founded the Akilah Hospital in Jordan to treat patients for free.

Only about 60 miles from the Syrian border, the hospital cared for many Syrian refugees. A shift in immigration laws in 2014 pushed Bakkar out of Jordan, and he now lives in Germany.

2. Solánge Bezerra

Retired teacher Solánge Bezerra started Grupo Ruas e Praças  — Streets and Squares in English — in 1987. Since then, the organization has helped more than 6,000 street children in Brazil. 

According to the Human Dignity Forum, the group can only afford to stay open for a few hours a day. However, workers have managed to feed, teach, dress and persuade numerous children to return to school.

3. Afroz Shah

Last year, Indian lawyer Afroz Shah won the United Nations’ Champions of the Earth award for cleaning up Versova Beach in Mumbai.

The Times of India says he mobilized volunteers to remove 4,000 tons of trash by hand.

“I am an ocean lover and feel that we owe a duty to our ocean to make it free of plastic,” Shah told the United Nations Environment Project. “I just hope this is the beginning for coastal communities across India and the worldwe have to win the fight against marine dumping and that involves getting our hands dirty.

4. Arwa Damon

As an award-winning veteran war reporter, Arwa Damon met a lot of people she couldn’t help beyond telling their stories. She went on to found International Network for Aid, Relief and Assistance based out of Beirut to provide medical treatment where other organizations fall short.

“In a world where evil appears to be thriving, where it seems that humanity has failed itself, this is our part in trying to bring people together for the sake of the most vulnerable victims of war,” the Arab-American senior correspondent for CNN writes. “I believe this is our fundamental humanitarian responsibility.”

5. Abdul-Rahman Kassig

The late Abdul-Rahman Kassig, formerly Peter Kassig, worked as an Army Ranger in Iraq in 2007. He then returned to the Middle East to deliver life-saving medical training and supplies.

“I can either be in a position to deliver tens of thousands of dollars of antibiotics for women and children, or I can be another young man with a gun,” Kassig told NPR in 2012.

Sadly, the Islamic State ultimately took Kassig hostage and beheaded him in 2014, but his legacy lives on.


Margie F
Margie F19 days ago

It is not a case of classing humans. Everyone should do good for others.

Rosslyn O
Rosslyn O27 days ago

All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. The Almighty beareth Me witness: To act like the beasts of the field is unworthy of man.
Those virtues that befit his dignity are forbearance, mercy, compassion and loving-kindness towards all the peoples and kindred’s of the earth. – Baha’i Faith Writings .....Many thanks to all these beautiful souls. Thank you for enlightening us.

W. C
W. Cabout a month ago


Tanya W
Tanya Wabout a month ago

Thank you for sharing

Peggy B
Peggy Babout a month ago

Selfless people

One Heart i
One Heart incabout a month ago


One Heart i
One Heart incabout a month ago


Tania N
Tania Nabout a month ago

thanks for sharing.

Jonathan H
Jonathan Habout a month ago


Toni W
Toni Wabout a month ago