Humanitarianism is defined differently throughout various disciplines. In Ethics, it implies that human beings can achieve perfection without divine help, (help from ‘God’). Theologists believe that Jesus came as God in human form. In common terms, it represents the concern for human life and wellness. Its aim is to end or reduces human suffering ,and to restore human dignity. International agencies paint a rosy picture of their humanitarian efforts ,aiding those in need while the realities on the ground are in bitter contrast to the principles of humanitarianism. For example, paradoxically inflicting heavy causalities and injuries to the non-combatant civilian population by carpet bombing and drone attacks, then afterwards dropping ‘care packages’ and first aid kits out of planes which actually landed on the bodies of the dead severely wounded . During Operation Enduring Freedom’ mission in Afghanistan in 2001, there were hundreds of reports of people actually being killed by these friendly little missiles.
1. Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman was born as Araminta Ross to her slave parents, Green and Ben Ross in 1820, in Dorchester County, Maryland, U.S. She died of pneumonia on March 10, 1913 at the age of 98. She was an American humanitarian and Union spy during the American Civil war, and is best known for not only freeing herself from slavery, but also rescuing seventy other slaves. She escaped to Philadelphia in 1849 and then returned to rescue her own family. She guided the slaves during their travel by night and never lost track of anyone, and never turned anyone in despite lucrative offers made to her for their exchange. In her mission to rescue slaves, she used a network of anti-slavery activists and protection houses, known as the ‘Underground Railroad’. William Still, known as the father of the Underground Railway, chronicled the stories and methods used by the 649 slaves to escape
2. Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King Jr. was born to Reverend Martin Luther King Sr. and Alberta Williams King on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. and died on April 4, 1968 at the age of 39 years, in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S. He is best known for his pursuit to end racism in America. On August 28, 1963, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, he delivered his historical speech, ‘ I Have A Dream’, to more than 250,000 civil rights supporters. It was a defining moment in the history of American Civil Rights Movement. King was awarded the Nobel Prize on October 14, 1964 for fighting against racial inequality through non-violence.
3. Norman Borlaug
Norman Ernest Borlaug was born to Henry Oliver and Clara Borlaug on March 25, 1914 in Cresco, Iowa, U.S and died on September 12, 2009 at the age of 95 years in Dallas, Texas. There is an old Chinese Proverb which states, ‘Don’t give a fish to a hungry man, but instead teach him how to catch fish’. Borlaug, the great Humanitarian applied this doctrine literally. He did not give wheat to the needy but taught them how to sow bumper crops of wheat, enabling countries like Pakistan and India not only to achieve self sufficient, but also to become tone of the largest exporters of wheat. Borlaug was known as the father of the ‘Green Revolution’, and as ‘The Man Who Saved A Billion Lives’. He is one of the six men who won the Nobel Peace Prize, The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal and Padma Vibhushan.
4. Nelson Mandela
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, better known as Nelson Mandela, was born to Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa and Nosekeni Fanny on July 18, 1918 in the small village of Mvezo, Umtatu in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Mandela was the most famous anti-apartheid politician of South Africa. He devoted his entire life for the cause and served 27 years in prison for his political views. He was the first black South African president to be in Office and he lead from 1994 to 1999. His government handled rallied against institutionalized racism and he endeavored to create peace and harmony among the black and white communities of South Africa. He has received more than 250 awards including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the U.S. Presidential Medal of freedom and Soviet Order of Lenin.
5. Haile Selassie I
Haile Selassie II was born to Ras Makonnen Woldemikael Gudessa and Weyziro Yeshimebet Ali Abajifarin on July 23, 1892 in Ejersa Goro, Ethiopia and died on August 27,1975 at the age of 83 years, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He ruled Ethiopia from 1916 to 1930 as as the Emperor from 1930 to 1974. More than 200,000 of his followers regard him as the returned messiah prophesied in the Bible. In 1935, at the League of Nations, Emperor Haile Selassie I, condemned Italy for the use of chemical weapons against its people. His international views on multi-lateralism and collective security enabled Ethiopia to become a charter member of the United Nations.
Queen Silvia was born to Walther Sommerlath and Alice Soares de Toledo on December 23, 1943 in Heidelberg, Germany. Although being the Queen does not require any other reason for being famous, she is known amongst the masses for being a great Humanitarian. She is known for her work with the physically and mentally challenged, those suffering from dementia, and was even awarded the Deutscher Kulturpreis prize in recognition. She patronizes the Queen Silvia Fund for Scouts With Disabilities and has been a vocal champion in the war against child pornography and abuse.
7. Diana, Princess of Wales
Diana, Princess of Wales was born to John Spencer, the 8th Earl of Spencer, and The Honourable Frances Shand Kydd on July 1, 1961 at Park House, Sandringham, and Norfolk, England. She died on August 31, 1997 at Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital, in Paris, France after a terrible car crash trying to flee from a high speed pursuit with the French Paparazzi. She was heavily involved in more than one hundred charities since the 80s, but after her divorce from Prince Charles, she restricted her activities to six of them to give them more time and focused attention. She patronized the English National Ballet, The Leprosy Mission, and the National AIDS Trust. She was known for her tireless efforts to ban and recover buried landmines which killed and maimed children in Angola. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, just months before her death. It was a terrible loss for England, and the world. Many tears were shed on her behalf and her death and resulted in legislative changes limiting the extent to which the Paparazzi can photograph and pursue celebrities and public figures.
8. Alfred Bernhard Nobel
Alfred Bernhard Nobel was born to Immanuel Nobel and Karolina Andriette Nobel on October 21, 1833 in Stockholm, Sweden and died on December 10, 1896, in Sanremo, Italy. He is most famous for inventing the ‘Nobel Prize’ itself as well as for the invention of dynamite and held 350 patents. His brother Ludwig died in 1888 and a French newspaper mistook it for Alfred’s death and published his obituary. Condemning his disastrous invention the obituary said ‘Le marchand de la mort est mort’, meaning, ‘The merchant of death is dead”. He was greatly depressed to note how he was potentially going to be remember after his death, so he instituted the Nobel Prize , and there is no doubt that today he occupies a highly respected place in the hearts and minds of people.
9. Mother Teresa
Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu better known as Mother Teresa, was born to Nikolle and Dranafile Bojaxhiu , on August 26,1910 in Skopje, Turkey, and died on September 5, 1997. The Indian Government gave her a state funeral in recognition of her services to the sick and poor of all religions in India. At the time of her death, her charitable missionaries had more than 4000 Sisters and 300 members operating 610 missions in 123 countries. Her missions included homes for Aids and HIV patients, people afflicted with leprosy and tuberculosis, sanitariums, orphanages, schools and many others. She was the recipient of many awards including the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize, Padma Shri and Bharat Ratna.
10.Abdul Sattar Edhi
Abdul Sattar Edhi was born on January 1, 1928 in Bantva, British India. He is a famous Pakistani Humanitarian. Starting out with a mere five thousand rupees, he founded the Edhi Foundation, which is the largest voluntary ambulance organization of the World, according to the 2000 Guinness Book of World Records. The foundation has free nursing homes, orphanages, shelters for women, the mentally ill, and addicts. The foundation has rescued more than 20,000 abandoned infants and has found homes for more than 50,000 orphans. He been honored with numerous awards including the Lenin Peace Prize, Nishan-i-Imtiaz, and an honorary doctorate.
Man-made and natural disasters are perpetual and inevitable phenomenon. There are three categories of wealthy people. The first category leaves its wealth to its successors. The second spends their wealth on luxurious living, and the third and final category consists of those who find gratification in sharing their wealth with others. They are comforted when they comfort those who are less privileged and in dire need of help. Good news for us, is that that there are more humanitarians in this world, than misers and spendthrifts!