This year World Humanitarian Day comes as the world continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic over recent months.

On August 19, the eleventh year that we have marked World Humanitarian Day, we are paying special tribute to the real-life heroes who have committed their lives to helping others in the most extreme circumstances throughout the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, COVID-19 has been the biggest challenge to humanitarian operations around the world.  The lack of access and restrictions placed by Governments around the world has resulted in communities, civil society and local NGOs being the frontline of the response.

Our #RealLifeHeroes

Our #RealLifeHeros are the people we work alongside who are continuing to respond to the urgent needs of the communities we work alongside across the world despite the lack of access, restrictions and risks relating to COVID-19.

From radio broadcasts, to online learning, to soup kitchens, distribution of food supplies and mask making, our partners have lead the way in demonstrating creative and innovative ways in which they can continue their work and support the communities we work alongside in the Global South. They are our #RealLifeHeroes

In Vietnam the Centre for Sustainable Development Studies had to cancel all of their classes and outreach work due to the restrictions. However, they continue to run their English lessons for young people via Zoom. 9 SERVE volunteers are supporting this initiative and are teaching English virtually to allow young people in Vietnam to safely continue their education despite the restrictions.

In the Philippines,  the Presentation Sisters have worked to ensure that the Badjao Tribe could access food supplies during the COVID-19 lockdown. Unfortunately for much of the lockdown, the Sisters were unable to reach the tribe as their movements were restricted. Much of the government support promised did not reach the tribe and the lockdown made it very difficult to access the community. However, SERVE and the Presentation Sisters have been in regular communication with the Badjao Teachers as lockdown has only recently lifted for the tribe. The Presentation Sisters, Badjao teachers and youth council are preparing the school for a safe reopening. SERVE are working with the Sisters and the Tribe to support their needs.

In India, the Association for People with Disabilities (APD) distributed nutrition and survival kits to 100 children with developmental delays, and their families who are daily wage labourers. APD also host regular webinars, online learning through Google Meet along with virtual parent / teacher meetings! APD are continuing to meet the needs of their students, while keeping them safe during this difficult situation.

Young Africa have continued to support their students through online learning across Southern Africa.  Students in the Dressmaking department in Mozambique put their skills to use to make reusable face masks. In Mozambique, a soup kitchen was set up to support the local community. Daily some 300 people receive a nutritious meal. In Botswana, Young Africa delivered their entrepreneurship courses through local radio station Yarona FM when they had to close the Skills and Youth Centre due to COVID-19 restrictions. Young Africa Zambia have also set up a soup kitchen to support their community.