World Humanitarian Day – August 19, 2019 -  Honoring Women Humanitarians


"From supporting civilians caught up in crisis to addressing disease outbreaks, women humanitarians are on the front lines."  — UN Secretary-General, António Guterres

NATAN honors all humanitarians, men and women, everywhere, as they put their comfort and safety aside and fly off to respond to crises all over the world. One of those dedicated professionals is our own Dr. Sharon Shaul, who leads NATAN’s medical relief activities. Sharon has devoted her life and career to helping others, both in Israel and abroad. At home, Sharon is an MD specializing in emergency medicine at a busy hospital in northern Israel. And since 2010, Sharon has led medical relief teams responding to some of the world’s worst natural or man-made disasters. These include the devasting earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal, Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, responding to the Syrian refugee crisis, monsoon flooding in India, and most recently, in Mozambique following Cyclone Idai.   Sharon is the mother of five, living in a small village in the north of the country.  Despite family and career obligations at home, Sharon is usually the first to volunteer when news of a disaster hits. In her words, “You hear about these terrible events on the news, but the feeling that you can actually do something to help - even if it's very small, makes you want to do whatever you can. And arriving so soon after a disaster, when there is still chaos and thousands of people whose lives are at risk if they don’t receive basic primary healthcare, makes you feel that even if you are only there for a short period you are really making a difference.”  In the recent aid operation in Mozambique, Sharon and the NATAN team flew by helicopter to remote locations, setting down wherever they saw crowds of people awaiting help. The team set up improvised primary care stations – with no more equipment than whatever they had brought with them in their emergency response kits. These were quite literally field clinics, as most of them were outside in open fields, since the buildings in the villages had been destroyed by the flooding following Cyclone Idai. Sharon and the team carried out initial medical assessments and provided first aid. In many cases, our teams were the first medical responders to arrive, as many of the remote locations were inaccessible by land, with roads washed out by the floods. For Sharon, humanitarian work is a calling, whether treating catastrophic wounds or the water-borne diseases which accompany natural disasters or tending to the medical needs of Syrian refugees at makeshift migrant camps. Sharon’s dedication mirrors that of aid workers around the world. We salute you, Sharon, along with your fellow humanitarians across the globe, today and every day. Happy World Humanitarian Day!  #WomenHumanitarians

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