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We Stand with Humanitarians and Demand More

Ahead of World Humanitarian Day, a short reflection.

Although I’m new to Team Rubicon, I’ve long been steeped in the lineage TR stepped into back in 2010. This lineage is humanitarianism. For those that perhaps don’t identify often with the term, Merriam-Webster defines humanitarianism as “a person promoting human welfare and social reform” – hold on to that last part for a moment.

From the origin point of Henri Dunant coming across a ghastly scene in today’s Northern Italy in 1859, crying out that we (the global we) could do better, to the creation of the Geneva Conventions, to the ongoing refinement of the world’s humanitarian system (most notably the results of the World Humanitarian Summit), the lineage is a spirit of we can do better.

This year’s theme for World Humanitarian Day is #NotATarget, focused on raising attention to the millions of civilians affected by armed conflict.

Today’s atrocities and disregard for international humanitarian law are a disgrace to humanity. Recognizing there are more eloquent voices that will be addressing this throughout the week, I want to turn our attention for a moment to the humanitarians at home.

Team Rubicon volunteers assisted with the cleanup effort after a wildfire broke out in the town of Pateros, Washington.

We often don’t hear about those providing relief in their home countries in the West as humanitarians. From Clara Barton to Jake Wood, the timeline is rich and layered. It is a service to humanity and those caught up in the service are humanitarians. At TR, we refer to the lifeblood of the organization as Greyshirts, the volunteers cutting through the mire to lend a helping hand, a shoulder to lean on or the muscle to help someone get back into their home sooner. These Greyshirts have a rich and universal legacy they have stepped into.

This past year, Team Rubicon has assisted individuals affected by disaster all across the U.S. Each time a Greyshirt steps up to the call, we like to say “Step into the Arena,” queue Teddy Roosevelt – they continue the legacy of being a humanitarian. Although this past year, we have primarily served those at home in the U.S., this next year, the call to serve may lead us to parts of the world that are closer to the conflict that so many are caught up in today.

97 Team Rubicon volunteers from around the world spent eight months providing primary medical care to the refugee population in Northern Greece.

So we stand in solidarity in a spirit of humanity. To those humanitarians who have lost their life in service, to the children that are being denied access to the most basic necessities, we stand with you and we demand more – as the foundational definition of being a humanitarian commands us to do.

Corey Eide serves as Team Rubicon's Deputy Director of Field Operations. He's a Southern Californian native but fell for the east coast after living in DC (go statehood!) where he led the modernization of the American Red Cross’ disaster recovery services. Over a decade of experience in the disaster space, he defies the tyranny of precedent and believes disaster survivors demand better. He graduated from Tulane University with a masters in international development where he facilitates learning environments focused on disaster risk reduction, urban disaster recovery, trends in response and recovery and disruptions in the non-profit sector.