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Sharing humanity: Lucy’s story

Lucy Wasuk in South Sudan.  Photo: WFP/George Fominyen

19.8.2016 – “My sincere belief is that emergency food is the only hope for most refugees and displaced people,” says Lucy Wasuk, a humanitarian aid worker from the World Food Program (WFP) in South Sudan who has spent the last 18 years fighting for humanitarian rights.

In connection with World Humanitarian Day, WFP shares Lucy’s story, the first in a series of eight WFP team members’ stories about working in their own countries to help end hunger.

In 1999, Lucy was sent on a mission to Pibor in Jonglei State. She was the first female aid worker who was not a Khawaja (foreigner) to set foot in Pibor. Here, she quickly came to be known as ‘Bolen’ – a big tree that provides shelter during heavy rain, which in light of her achievements seems fitting.

In 2001, still in Pibor, Lucy met a boy named Wad Shiling. Wad, an 11 year old orphan at the time, walked up to Lucy and asked if he could go to her home for a hot meal and in return pay her back with cattle (through the traditional cattle raiding). Lucy could not imagine that a life of cattle raiding was really this young boy’s dream, and she decided to help him in another way.

In South Sudan, Hawa Elderib, who is a mother of seven, prepares a meal for her children in a refugee camp. Photo: WFP/Ahnna Gudmunds

After gaining permission, she brought him back home with her and put him in a school for four years, and today, Wad is a successful businessman who in turn supports his nephew, who now works for Plan International, a WFP partner.

This example shows how one person can really make a difference. This World Humanitarian Day, let us unite in the name of humanity and show that we cannot and will not leave anyone behind.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasises that these commitments remain at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals.

“World Humanitarian day is an annual reminder of the need to alleviate the suffering. It is also an occasion to honour the humanitarian workers and volunteers toiling on the frontlines of crises”, says Ban Ki-moon, adding that, “There are things we can all do – today, and every day. We can show compassion, we can raise our voices against injustice, and we can work for change.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (shown on screens at left and right) addresses the closing ceremony of the World Humanitarian Summit, which took place in Istanbul, Turkey, on 23-24 May 2016. Photo: UN/Eskinder Debebe

This is exactly what Lucy does every day. Working for WFP, Lucy has proved that she is willing to go that extra mile to help the people of South Sudan.

The United Nations marks this day with a call to promote global solidarity among the more than 130 million people around the world who require humanitarian assistance. Under the theme of ‘One Humanity’, World Humanitarian Day will highlight how the world came together in Istanbul for the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit earlier this year, and made commitments to transform the lives of people living in conflict, disaster and acute vulnerability and ensure that aid workers can safely and more effectively help those in need.

On this day, why not take the humanitarian quiz, “The World You’d Rather”, a WHD campaign bringing to light the very real scenarios faced by people in crisis. 

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