Who is a Humanitarian?
A humanitarian is an individual who uses social reforms to promote human welfare. He or she focuses on protecting human lives and preserving human dignity. Humanitarians also provide relief from gender oppression, religious divides, sexual orientation discrimination, and national divides. Humanitarians work to provide care for the people in need. The main objective of a humanitarian is to help people around the world through efforts ranging from the provision of proper nutrition to malnourished children, to the provision of medical care to the sick and disadvantaged. As Ted Murphy says, one becomes a humanitarian because giving and being part of something larger than themselves that is particularly designed to help the vulnerable and weak is important.
What Does a Humanitarian Do?
Rather than working in a particular space, humanitarians work globally, in many regions focusing on fighting hunger, disease, violence, and poverty from across the world. From saving and protecting the lives of refugees to sheltering the homeless, humanitarians also help citizens cope with war and natural disasters. They often work in dangerous situations to foster change within a community by providing funds and resources including water, shelter, food, healthcare, and medical supplies.
A humanitarian’s career advocates the importance of creating strong bonds with a community. People from all over the world and from all backgrounds can make an impact through the help they offer. Careers for humanitarians include:
- Relief work
What Do You Need to Become a Humanitarian?
If you are passionate about becoming a humanitarian and contributing to the realization of human rights, poverty-related issues, and community development projects, here are some tips to inspire you:
1: Check your motivation
As simple as it sounds, just wanting to help make the world a better place is not enough to get you started as a humanitarian. It is important to be aware of your reasons and motivation to get involved, so you can be sure of the exact value you will add to the cause and how you can best do it. The passion and will to become a humanitarian comes first, but you need a strong understanding and reasoning of the situation you are trying to get involved in.
2: Personality and Courage
Some of the essential skills required for every humanitarian are openness, understanding, tolerance, patience, acceptance, and cultural sensitivity. It is also important to be well-aware of your personality and prepare to face unpleasant situations quite often since your endurance and persistence will be tested often. Since the realities of abject poverty and various forms of injustice can at first be shocking, it is important to be mentally prepared and this is where courage comes in. Remember that you don’t have to be born with those qualities– you can learn and succeed in those fields with enough dedication and practice.
3: Relevant Skills
In humanitarian work, practical skills are key, together with a degree or competencies in the fields of health care, food security, construction, management, teaching, leadership, communication, social work, agriculture, and many others. You must realize that the reality might differ from what your education prepared you for. It is also essential to be prepared for a different culture, environment, climate conditions, and accepted behavior by investigating in advance and getting in the right mindset.
4: Field experience
In major NGOs such as the UN, the Red Cross, or Oxfam, humanitarian positions usually have a tough selection procedure. Without prior experience, it would be hugely challenging to get noticed regardless of possessing a university degree. Having field experience by volunteering in advance or engaging in internships will boost your chances of landing a job greatly. Striving for long-term projects allows you to get a realistic idea of the nature of work. Due to the shocking environment and cultural differences, this type of work takes time to get used to and cannot be grasped in just a few days or weeks.
Volunteering can help you make the right choice when it comes to humanitarian careers. This could be through research and signing of petitions, teaching adult classes, or sponsoring a child. Volunteering even just a few hours can make a difference, especially at a charity, which will help you expand your network. Additionally, networking opens doors to new career opportunities as it helps you meet industry leaders who can then introduce you to other relevant connections and assist you to find in finding mentors, internships, or job opportunities. Internships can help boost your resume if your work experience is limited. Working for small or local organizations can also give you an opportunity to provide relief to those in need, hence giving you the experience to get into a larger organization.
5: Languages and mindset
Whether basic or intermediate, language knowledge will greatly help your humanitarian career. This field of work usually requires relocating and operating in different parts of the world, so the more languages you learn, the easier your communication will be. It is also important to keep the right mindset and prepare mentally for what you might encounter. Other qualities that can benefit your adjustment to the humanitarian field are open-mindedness towards problems and their solutions, communication with people, and teamwork.
Humanitarian careers offer a rich global experience and give you the opportunity to lead and deliver relief to communities worldwide. Each day, they make a difference and hence contribute to a global society. From impacting global security, safety, and prosperity through human rights, public health, energy conservation, or food security, humanitarians have diverse, unique careers. They do it because they love it and they believe in it. Established organizations that employ humanitarians include the United Nations, American Red Cross, World Bank, and Peace Corps. If you’re in search of a meaningful career helping others, the above tips offer what it takes to become a humanitarian. To get more tips on humanitarian careers and the humanitarian sector in general, subscribe to our newsletter to get daily updates.