Humanitarian Aid

Humanitarian aid is defined as aid and action designed to save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain and protect human dignity during and in the aftermath of emergencies. Humanitarian aid is provided all over the world but it is most commonly recognized as an action performed by Americans in other countries. Humanitarian aid can definitely be a positive factor in other countries because it helps people in poorer countries receive the medical assistance that they need. Many times, these countries do not have the money or resources to fund medical aid to help the sick in their own country. When Americans go overseas to fulfill these duties, it gives the United States a better image. It shows that we are willing to help people in other countries, not just America and we care about their needs. Their lives are just as valuable as anyone else’s.  A lot of times we are even putting the needs of people in other countries before the needs of people in America. According to “In the Eyes of Others,” it was said that overall, patients appreciate Medecins Sans Frontieres’s (a western humanitarian aid group) prescence, services and impact on health programs. In general, it seems as if aid provided by Americans in other countries is welcomed and people are receptive to it in a positive way.


However, there are some negative aspects to humanitarian aid provided in other countries. In Niger and Liberia, citizens of these countries said they had to travel far distances to to reach medical aid and MSF did not coommunicate enough with the patients explaining to them why medical projects were set up. It seems as though they are not completely opposed to humanitarian aid being given in their country, they just want it to be more convenient and explained to them why medical assistance is given in their country by Americans. A thought that I had as to why people might not be as receptive to humanitarian aid in their country is because it might make them look bad. It almost says that a specific country cannot take care of their own people and Americans go over to make themselves look like heros in the eyes of others.

While reading “In the Eyes of Others,” I thought it was really interesting that in Liberia, hospitals are seen as a last resort, after self-medication, a local doctor, traditional healer, pharmacy, church and clinic. In America it seems as if people are going to the hospital for every little injury that in Liberia would probably be solved by self-medication. It’s almot as if Americans take advantage of the great medical benefits and assistance offered to us as citizens of this country. When humanitarian aid is given in other counries, I feel as though most of the emphasis is put on immediate needs of people, such as medical assistance, as opposed to bettering schools, roads, infrastructure, etc. It makes sense that most emphasis is put on immediate need because that deals with the life of a human being. However, I think more aid should be given to things such as schools and roads. In Jamaica, the school we taught at had walls with huge holes in them because of a hurricane that came through and the walls were never replaced (we replaced them while there). I feel like the people in that area in Jamaica were more concerned about other things than the condition of the school, which is why Americans should do more in the way of aid to make sure schools are in good shape to nurture a positive learning environment.

I wanted to throw one of my own opinions out there in regards to humanitarian aid in other countries. I’m curious as to how women in other countries feel about it compared to men. I think women might feel inferior to humanitarian aid because they might feel that men think they are not doing their job. In a lot of countries, women are supposed to stay home and take care of the house and in a sense, men. They might not like the fact that other women are coming to their country and doing the jobs they are supposed to do. When researching humanitarian aid, I found it interesting that other countries are now reaching out, not just western culture. According to, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, to name a few, are now reaching out with humanitarian aid.

Some food for thought…..

This is an article about a recent U.S. humanitarian aid donation

A documentary showing work done by an MSF group in Somalia


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