One Small Thing Can Make a Big Difference

By Leonard Doyle

Brilliantly encapsulating what it is to be a humanitarian aid worker, Matt Bowlby of IOM Haiti describes his daily rounds of a displacement camp thus: "You’re here to do one small thing that’s going to make a big difference."

In that short and pithy phrase, delivered as he bantered in creole with residents still displaced by the earthquake of three years ago, he summed up what keeps so many humanitarian aid workers returning to work in the often dangerous conditions of emergencies. In the film Matt and Magdala Michelle Jean-Pierre talk about the rewards and challenges of humanitarian work in Haiti.

19 August was World Humanitarian Day a month long initiative that invites you to sponsor a word and turn your voice to help millions of people worldwide affected by disasters. IOM and United Nations ask supporters to complete the sentence: The world needs more…

World Humanitarian Day project has launched an innovative, month-long campaign called ‘The World Needs More…” which turns words into aid.
This ground-breaking project encourages supporters to share words via Twitter following the hashtag ‘#theworldneedsmore’. Once the word has been tweeted it will then appear on the homepage where individuals can then click on the word and sponsor it via PayPal. Once a word is sponsored every share after that will unlock $1, with all funds then going to the most underfunded humanitarian crises around the world.

The Kid President (a.k.a. Robby Novak) has gotten on board and is helping spread the message to new audiences through his YouTube videos. Recently he visited United Nations headquartersin New York City and sat down (not to mention danced)  with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos. However, his most recent interview with Beyoncé will top the aborable/heart-warming charts.

During their brief interview Novak and Beyoncé discussed life, friendship and the significance of World Humanitarian Day.

“I think it is so important for us to take some time and be unselfish and have compassion,” she told him. “Because we really can impact the world.”

The video released yesterday already has 241,480+ views. UPDATE VIEWS!!!

The international community is turning to social media to raise money and awareness of humanitarian crises that have fallen off the global agenda, said U.N. Undersecretary-General Valerie Amos. Under the slogan "The World Needs More," the campaign has partnered with entertainers and corporations to raise funds on social networks such as Twitter.

Entertainers working with the program will tweet a word such as "strength," "love" or "humanity," and a corporate sponsor will donate $1 to a U.N. humanitarian fund for every retweet.
"We're going to try to put any funding that is raised, any money raised into those countries where are appeals are under-funded," Amos said.

Those who will participate include American pop singer Beyonce, Indian film actor Amitabh Bachchan, Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho and 10-year-old American comedian Kid President.
Corporate sponsors include U.S. financial services company Western Union, British bank Barclays, Italian fashion house Gucci, computer chip maker Intel and the Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation.

The U.N General Assembly in 2008 declared Aug. 19 World Humanitarian Day as a way to mark the 22 U.N. and aid agency workers, including Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, who died during a 2003 bombing of the organization's Baghdad headquarters.

On this World Humanitarian Day, Islamic Relief is also encouraging supporters to pressure world leaders to end the Syrian conflict. You can help by:
Filling in the blank with the world needs more #Action4Syria

Tweet it, and pass the message on. This hashtag demands that the international community and leaders come together to begin peace talks, and for humanitarian corridors to be established in Syria so that relief agencies can deliver aid to those who need it most.

Please sign the joint petition with other leading development agencies calling for presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin to use their political power to encourage both sides to sit down for peace talks- something which they have pledged to do.

In the last two years, over 100,000 Syrians have lost their lives and 1.7 million people have left the country in search of safety- most of them women and children.

Unfortunately, when they reach neighbouring countries, Syria’s refugees face different types of problems including a lack of shelter, water, food, security.

Although Islamic Relief continues to provide medical and food aid inside Syria, without unhindered access to all areas of the country we will not know the true extent of devastation within the country.

Tweet the world needs more #Action4Syria and put pressure on international leaders to help solve the conflict and allow aid to reach the people who need it.

Additional reporting


Leonard Doyle is IOM's Online Editor