Though mainstream media would like to make it seem as if we’ve all become apathetic and more concerned with our gaming systems and other gadgets than with our fellow human beings, all it takes is a quick look around to notice that people all over the world are working together for the greater good.

Pinpointing specific examples isn’t very difficult. There are literally countless non-profit groups and aid organizations who volunteer their time and money and in some cases their blood, sweat, and tears to provide aid to developing countries, war zones, disaster areas, and in many cases they simply provided help in their immediate areas because it’s needed.

Here then, in no particular order, are four aid organizations that have been working together for the greater good longer than some of us have been alive:

The Red Cross
The American Red Cross and the The International Committee of the Red Cross are essentially one in the same, except that the American Red Cross is simply the designated U.S. affiliate for the International Committee. Essentially, The Red Cross is a humanitarian organization that has been providing emergency assistance, disaster relief, and education to the world since 1881. In addition to these international relief and development programs, the organization now also offers community service that helps the needy, communication services for military families, and educational programs on topics such as health and safety. In recent years, this far-reaching organization has also become synonymous with the collection, processing, and distribution of blood for those in need of transfusions.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this organization, despite all that’s already been said, is that all of these people have come together out of the goodness of their hearts in order to help others. Meaning, a majority of the organization is completely governed by volunteers, which are nearly entirely supported by community donations. In America alone there are 700 chapters and 36 blood service regions- all of which are run by those who have dedicated themselves to saving lives and helping others, free of charge. There’s something about the Red Cross that makes it one of the most trusted organizations in the world. Perhaps it’s because they’re always the first on the ground when help is needed or it may be the fact that its countless volunteers and over 30,000 employees have mobilized relief for approximately 67,000 disasters over the years and have also provided well over 12 million volunteers with the necessary medical skills to help those in disaster areas. Whatever the reason may be, here’s hoping this organization is around another hundred years.

Doctors Without Borders
Since 1971 Doctors Without Borders, a volunteer-run, humanitarian organization, has been providing medical care to war-torn regions and developing countries, despite incredibly dangerous situations. The organization was created by a group of French doctors who believed that medical care was not a privilege, but a right that everyone deserved despite their race, religion, creed, or political affiliation. Outside of the U.S. the organization is known by its French name: Médecins Sans Frontières or MSF for short.

This Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization has over 26,000 volunteer doctors, nurses, medical professionals, logistical experts, and water and sanitation engineers who provide aid in over 60 countries. These fine people, more concerned with contributing to the greater good than with their own needs, leave everything that is familiar- their jobs, their families, their homes- in order to provide healthcare to those in need, often being stationed in conflict zones such as Chechnya and Rwanda where they are risking their lives to help others.

Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity, like the Red Cross, is also an incredibly trusted and beloved humanitarian organization and for 34 years, volunteers for this group have devoted themselves to building “simple, decent, and affordable housing” to those in need internationally.

Habitat for Humanity was actually one of the first organizations to provide Hurricane Katrina survivors with new homes, all of which were built using 100 percent volunteer labor and are sold at no profit, though their accomplishments have helped countless families in need who have experienced setbacks having nothing to do with natural disasters.

The organization has locations in more than 100 countries, all of which have contributed to the 50,000 homes that have been built in the U.S. and more than 150,000 around the world. As of 2005, it’s estimated that Habitat for Humanity homes have helped shelter a million people worldwide. The only qualifications for potential Habitat home owners are that they must be a family in need who is able to repay the no-profit, affordable mortgage.

Amnesty International
Unlike the other organizations profiled who are working together for the greater good, Amnesty International provides a service that isn’t as tangible as a home to live in or water for drinking, though what they help protect is perhaps the most important thing of all: Human rights.

This organization, which is nearly fifty years old, has one main goal as outlined in the humanitarian group’s mission statement and it is “to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated.” If you think that sounds like a difficult task, you’re right, but that hasn’t stopped the organization from calling attention to grave abuses of power all over the world. As a matter of fact, AI was one of the first organizations in America to shine a spotlight on the genocide in Rwanda and the mass rapes of women in the area as a result.

Many of Amnesty International’s efforts concern bringing attention to violations committed on specific groups, including refugees, racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, as well as women and those executed or currently on death row. Like the other humanitarian groups provided, AI greatly depends on the generous contributions of every day citizens and on their countless volunteers who assist in getting the word out through protests, flyers, and internet campaigns.


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