World Humanitarian Day - Elsa's Story

Sunday 19 August 2018

On World Humanitarian Day (WHD) we pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and rally support for people affected by crises around the world. On this, WHD 2018, we sat down with Elsa, a veteran humanitarian worker who works with Save the Children helping African refugees in Egypt.

Q: Tell us more about yourself and how you joined Save the Children?

I lived my early life between Ethiopia and Eritrea. I experienced the war and I had to flee. Later when I arrived in Egypt, I worked in different businesses until 2011 when I lost my husband. That was the moment when I started helping refugees and asylum-seekers. I first became involved through one of the community churches, then I volunteered with Save the Children.

Q: Why did you choose to serve refugees?

A: I was a refugee myself. I have experienced all the difficulties and hardships they face during their journey to seek asylum. That’s why I am dedicated to helping them.

Q: When do you feel satisfied about what you are doing?

A: When I help an unaccompanied minor in finding a home or when I help a single pregnant woman who fled the war in her country to safely give birth. And my team is always inspiring me. I am always fascinated by the work that my colleagues do. It makes me feel so happy and proud that I am part of them.

Q: What would you like to change in the humanitarian aid system?

A: If someone is committed to helping refugees then there should be no boundaries. The ability of aid workers to access those in need is very limited. There are lots of restrictions. I know safety comes first but I believe that everyone should cooperate to reach the people in need and deliver the aid needed in terms of logistics or in terms of finances.

Q: What would you like to say to fellow aid workers around the world?

A: Try to find peace inside you and then you will be able to spread it around you. I also advise them to always work in teams and make the best out of the human resources around them. And most important to be creative in solving problems.

Q: What are your dreams?

I dream of witnessing a better world. I dream of seeing the young generation being more productive because they have the potential, they just need to be given the opportunities to grow and to nourish. And now as there is a peace treaty between Ethiopia and Eritrea; I want to be able to go to Eritrea and work there. I want to make good use of my knowledge and my experience to help the vulnerable people there.


This year the official hashtag of WHD is #NotATarget. As humanitarian workers deliver aid, and medical workers treat the wounded and sick, they are directly targeted, treated as threats, and prevented from bringing relief and care to those in desperate need. All civilians caught in conflict need to be protected whether they are aid workers or they are in need of help. Join the #NotATarget movement and raise your voice against the targeting of civilians in the areas of conflicts.