If you ever watch the news, it’s easy to feel like the whole world is just a few short seconds away from bursting into flames. With a worldwide refugee crisis, climate change triggering natural disasters and children suffering from starvation, the world can be a depressing place. If these issues leave you feeling sad, guilty or impassioned, you may want to consider a career in the humanitarian sector.
Since you’re reading this, you’ve been educated enough to read English, you’ve got access to a computer and internet and you’ve almost certainly got shelter, clean drinking water and food. These are just your most basic privileges, and you probably have a lot of others. But in 2016, still not everyone enjoys these basic human rights.
The thing about privilege is it’s really just a lucky coincidence, a thing that’s completely beyond our control. Some are born rich and some are born poor and most of us fit somewhere in between.
Helping those who have less opportunity than you is an awesome way to contribute to the betterment of the world. Secondarily, it can also be a way to quell your fears about the future and/or feel better about your personal impact on the world. It’s good for others but it’s also good for you.
Being a humanitarian has multiple definitions, but at its core, it’s about attempting to save human lives or alleviate human suffering without prejudice. It involves volunteering or exchanging your time, skills and resources for the good of those who need it.
Humanitarian work is generally carried out by the United Nations, Non-Government Organisations (NGOs), governments and the private sector. Organisations such as Amnesty International, Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre are all examples of humanitarian NGOs. Volunteering or working for these agencies or similar ones is probably the most obvious and effective way to become a humanitarian. We actually interviewed an absolute legend about how he came to work for the UN – check it out here if you’re interested!
The humanitarian sector is actually quite a competitive industry. This is partly because NGOs are generally more concerned with moral imperatives rather than profits, so they can’t always afford to employ everyone. It’s also partly because their budgets come from independent donors and government aid budgets, which aren’t as generous as profitable corporations.
If you’re looking to get started in a humanitarian career, you might want to check out the Humanitarian Institute, which offers onsite and online training for those who aspire to enter the sector. Their courses are suited to students, as well as those who are working within other careers but want to help people. And they even do study tours in Kenya.
Some people assume that only doctors or nurses can do humanitarian work, but in reality, there are plenty of humanitarian roles across a range of different industries. Teachers, tradespeople, administrators, media and PR professionals and labourers are just some of those who can get involved in humanitarian work.
Essentially, almost any skill or interest can be worked into the humanitarian sector. If you’re keen to help people less fortunate than you, we say go for it!nullnull