No matter what: World Humanitarian Day 2023

On World Humanitarian Day 2023 some ShelterBox staff members share what being a humanitarian means to them.

18 August 2023

Three people looking at paperwork while on deployment as humanitarians

World Humanitarian Day was created to remember humanitarian workers who have been killed or injured. Despite the increasing risks they face, humanitarians across the globe are committed to saving and protecting lives, and providing the basic needs of people – food, water, education, health, nutrition, protection, and shelter. This World Humanitarian Day seeks to reaffirm humanitarians’ commitment to their key values and guidelines, and that they will stand with those they serve. No matter who, no matter where and no matter what. 

At ShelterBox, everything we do is shaped by the four humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, independence and neutrality. This year for World Humanitarian Day we are highlighting some of our own staff members. Keep reading to discover what being a humanitarian means to them. 

Phoebe, MEAL Coordinator 

People standing and talking while on deployment as humanitarians


Phoebe (centre in the image above) is our MEAL Coordinator, which means she works in Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning. Evaluating each of our responses to a disaster is vital as it allows us to ensure we’re meeting the needs of the people we support. It also provides valuable insight for future responses. Phoebe said about being a humanitarian: 

“Being a humanitarian means showing compassion towards others. For me, it involves working with like-minded people and teams to help alleviate suffering and improve the wellbeing of vulnerable individuals and communities. 

I’ve always been motivated to do this kind of work because I have a strong sense of empathy, and I care deeply about doing work that feels meaningful and has a positive impact on others. Growing up I wasn’t sure what role I would have in the non-profit sector, but I always knew that I would work in it. I therefore feel very blessed to have found my way to ShelterBox! I remain just as determined today as I always have been to play even just a small part in creating positive change.” 

Henry, Programme Manager 

Three people sitting with the Ethiopia landscape behind them


Henry (centre in the picture above) is our Programme Manager for Ethiopia. There is a complex crisis in the country, with violence and drought forcing many to flee their homes. When asked about being a humanitarian, Henry said, 

“I don’t know if I can describe myself as a “humanitarian”, I’m just someone who sees hardship and suffering and wants to help alleviate it. I believe fully that every human life is valued and does not deserve to suffer. It is about working within a global community to help all those in need where those needs exist.” 

Marilou and Rosemarie, ShelterBox Operations Philippines

Two women and a man in the Philippines


Marilou (left in the image above) and Rosemarie (centre) both work for ShelterBox Operations Philippines. ShelterBox has responded to more disasters in the Philippines than any other country. ShelterBox Operations Philippines was set up as a local NGO (non-governmental organization) to allow us to respond quickly to future disasters in the country. 

Marilou and Rosemarie were both asked about being humanitarians. Here are their responses: 

Marilou, Country Manager 

What does being a humanitarian mean to you?  

Being a humanitarian worker means being there, being available to assist the more needy in times of crisis or disaster even if you yourself or your family is also affected. It is being there for others because they have less capacity than you, they needed the assistance more than you, and you have capability to extend assistance in any form at the time that they need it most.”   

What motivates you to do this kind of work?  

I have been assisting others even before in my own ways. Doing this kind of work in a non-profit organization enables me to reach much more people. Knowing that no matter how small maybe your assistance is versus the needs of the affected families is consoling and provides a different of feeling of satisfaction. My work life has been in NGOs assisting less privileged families. I cannot imagine a more fulfilling job than being a humanitarian worker.” 

Rosemarie, Community Development Manager 

What does being a humanitarian mean to you?  

Humanitarian to me is being the voice to the less heard community and by hearing their voices doing the best in my power to alleviate the suffering through the need-based intervention that capacitate or educate them to better prepare to impending hazards and be resilient on their own.”  

What motivates you to do this kind of work?  

That feeling of fulfilment, being able to help improve the lives of affected communities and in return, see the happiness and smiles on people’s faces motivates me to do this kind of work, and to do it better. 

Domi, on the right in the picture above, previously gave an interview which you can read here: Interview with Domi

Ian Neale, Volunteer SRT Member 

Man sitting with two children and the Ethiopian landscape behind him


Ian Neale is one of our committed ShelterBox Response Team volunteers. They provide essential support to our teams and partners while on deployment in the countries we are responding in. Here is how Ian responded when asked about being a humanitarian. 

What does being a humanitarian mean to you?  

I have always had a strong desire to serve and assist others when disasters impact on people’s lives. Being a Humanitarian allows me to be play a small part in providing the required support to alleviate human suffering and provide an environment that offers the security and dignity to aid recovery. Being a humanitarian, you develop a wider perspective on everything around you and I see the world differently. I am conscious of people and their daily struggles to survive.”   

What motivates you to do this kind of work?  

“It’s simple, my motivation comes from the difference we make to people during their greatest period of need. I continually get humbled by humanity. Those moments when we are able to provide the appropriate aid to resolve a situation and improve the lives of fellow humans, when we need each other the most.” 


The commitment of our staff and volunteers allows us to continue our work as humanitarians. No matter what. 

Support us today to help us continue. 

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