In 1994, Humanity scored a major victory with the official end of Apartheid in South Africa, and while much progress has been made since this date, over 50 percent of the population still lives in poverty, with a large portion of these living in extreme poverty. In the extreme-poverty sectors of South Africa, the so called “squatter camps,” little to no progress has been made. Due to their economic situations, time has essentially stood still since that momentous occasion, and they are still living in the same conditions as they did during Apartheid.
In 2015 and 2016, a group of locals from an Albanian village in Macedonia banded together to help hundreds of thousands of war refugees who were passing the border near their village. These men worked for hours every night to help men, women, children, the ill, and the elderly. They brought help to refugees of all faiths. They brought them food, warm, shelter, and whatever support they could. They carried their bags and babies, helped warm up frozen children, reunited families, and risked their own lives and safety to help strangers they had never met and may never meet again. They often worked all night, slept for only a few hours, and then worked their regular jobs to support their own families. They were sometimes seen about the transit camp, barefoot in the middle of the night, running here and there helping refugees, having just given away their shoes to someone they felt needed them more.
Imagine a place where grocery stores often are empty, where you might walk 20 kilometers in scorching heat to reach a gas station for fuel for your car, where water or electricity can be off for a week at a time, and where parents have begun to abandon young children on the streets for lack of money to feed them.
Emergency aid is vital: food, clothing, and shelter are the basics of life that every child needs. At the same time, there are long-term solutions that can change a child’s life forever. Many of the humanitarian catastrophes and emergency situations we have observed on the ground during past projects could have been avoided if the general population had a much greater awareness of and respect for Human Rights — both others’ rights, and their own. This is best taught at an early age.