A salute to the humanitarians

Joy Maluyo

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A salute to the humanitarians
A young humanitarian worker pays tribute to her colleagues on World Humanitarian Day

Exactly three weeks ago today, I was in Tacloban Airport, waiting for my flight to Roxas City via Manila.  I could no longer sit for more than three minutes due to a back pain. Fearing the worst, I endured the one hour flight to Manila and directly went to the hospital. The doctor told me I had lumbar herniated disc. The herniation had affected my right leg, causing numbness and weakness of the toes. I needed to undergo surgery.  

The doctor asked about the nature of my work. He told me that my work was not easy and I agreed.

Being a humanitarian worker is no joke.  

So today, I want to honor all humanitarian workers out there.


I salute you for your heart – a heart that is not limited to self and family but a heart that extends its beating for others. With all the troubles of this world, you dared to help carry the burden of others. (READ: What’s it like to be a humanitarian worker?

I admire you for your strength – the strength to contain your emotions while talking to disaster victims or any person in need. It is emotionally draining. Detaching one’s self from the pain of the people is a difficult task. I admire you even more for being strong for them when you are already breaking inside. Some of you have lost not just material things but also family members; and yet you selflessly shared your expertise in the response. I wouldn’t be able to describe that kind of courage but its something that I wish the world will learn to have.

NO ISLAND TOO FAR. The author tags along with World Vision's local Haiyan Response team to document their activities. Photo by Joy Maluyo

I thank you for your humility – your recognition that humanitarian work is not about us, the workers, but about the people we’re working with. I’ve seen you in the finance team, in logistics and procurement, in admin and all other teams that are not at the frontline. Maybe, sometimes, it’s hard to see the point of answering the phone or processing purchase requests but Id like to tell you that you are more than what you think you are. And with all the smiles Ive seen in the field, let me tell you that Ive seen you in them.

I salute you for your dedication – even if it means not seeing your family for months. You do not know how much you inspire me every time you talk about your children and how much you miss them and still, you chose to stay because you also consider those people in need as your family. I salute you for painstakingly enduring the long hours of travel and all the risks that go with it; for bearing with fast foods instead of home-cooked meals and for the many sleepless nights youve had.

I admire you for never quitting – with all the ups and downs of humanitarian work, it would have been easier to back out. Other people sometimes don’t realize that you, too, get frustrated when things don’t always go according to plan because, whether we like it or not, there are things beyond your control.  You hear criticisms, you are sometimes misjudged but you stay just the same. The purpose you have is never defined by what you hear or what you experience along the way but it is something that already know long before you said yes to your work. You stay because your purpose is far bigger than all the distractions. (READ: World Humanitarian Day: Protect the humanitarians)

Answering the call

I can go on and enumerate how much I respect you but with all the words I have to say, I admire you most for the life you chose to live. I respect you for answering the call of humanitarian work and for sharing a part of you to the world. Your life, no matter what organization you are from, spells hope to many.

And I also thank you, big time, for influencing me. Everyday, I see reasons why I need to heal and go back to the field because your life reminds me that I have a purpose to carry on. – Rappler.com 

Joy Maluyo is the communication officer for World Vision’s Haiyan Response. She is based in Manila but is currently deployed in Visayas, moving around our assisted areas in Panay Island, North Cebu and Leyte.


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