Tuesday, 19 August 2014

August 19th - World Humanitarian Day

World Humanitarian Day
“More than ever before people need help”

August 19th is World Humanitarian Day and around the globe people are taking time to recognize those who face danger and adversity in order to help others. The day was designated by the General Assembly to coincide with the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq.   This bombing is noted as the worst attack on the UN in its history – people died, people were injured and out of the pain and rubble World Humanitarian day was created.

In very basic terms a humanitarian is someone who works to make people’s lives better; someone involved in improving lives and reducing suffering.   So this is also a day to celebrate the spirit that inspires humanitarian work around the globe.

The “shout out“ for World Humanitarian day is The world needs more…   It is a call to stand up and speak out and make a difference.  We want to raise awareness about the tremendous work of individuals and to offer a different perspective in acknowledging the day.  We asked people attending our 15th community barbecue in the inner city on Saturday August 16th what the world needs more of and the majority told us:

   Safe, clean, affordable place to live

These comments are about here and now; from people you may see every day but choose to ignore. It is not only countries and places abroad that require humanitarian involvement; it is also needed in the very backyards here – the cities, towns and rural spaces that are all around.  And we know this because 46% of the food bank users in Hamilton are children. There is a 21 year difference in the life expectancy between the poorest neighbourhood and the wealthiest neighbourhood in Hamilton.  Just over 50% of all the hate crimes were motivated by hatred toward a race and Hamilton is one of three cities in Canada with the highest rates of hate crime per capital.  And some 30,000 people in Hamilton work every day and still live in poverty. This is our local context.  This tells us that there is still much work to be done;that better, bolder strategies are needed and that more than ever before people need help. 

Let’s talk about the humanitarian effort at home.  Let’s hear about your local context.  And then let’s work on better, bolder strategies to make people’s lives better; create change that improves lives and reduces suffering; actually work on a plan to achieve equity.  On this World Humanitarian Day that’s what I think the world needs more of!   So let’s have this conversation and let us know what you think.

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Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The Core and Why it Matters

Mahatma Ghandi said that poverty is the worst form of violence.  It goes beyond the dollars and cents and attacks the very soul and brings into question our humanity to one another.  So "fixing" this is a matter of equity and social justice and at the very heart of it economic justice.  Maybe that's why Hamilton Urban Core was started 17 years ago.  Maybe not.  But here's what I know for sure.  Poverty is one of biggest health risks we face.  Some of the highest rates of poverty in this province are found in the communities and neighbourhoods right here in Hamilton's inner city.  Some of these neighbourhoods have health outcomes that are the same or even worse than those experienced by people in developing nations.  Some are struggling with the simple things that others take for granted - good health, three meals a day and somewhere to call home.  Every day another difficult choice - buy food or pay the rent, pay for  meds or food, can't do both, not enough money.  No one wants to believe the reports about poor health in the inner city, no matter how many times it is said.  That's why Hamilton Urban Core is so important.   A whole person approach to health.  Reaching out to the most marginalized.  Addressing the social determinants.  An unwavering commitment to equity.  And always quality service.  That's why it is important to share the stories - talk about the victories, share the challenges, figure out what we can do to make a difference, contibute to change.  Stay tuned!