World Humanitarian Day is August 19: Celebrate Messengers of Humanity

“The Blue Diamond Society sprang into action a few days after the Nepal earthquake and organized a camp specifically for sexual and gender minorities.” Manisha Dhakal, Acting Executive Director of the Blue Diamond Society

August 19 is World Humanitarian Day, when we honour humanitarian workers. Manisha Dhakal is a Messenger of Humanity. Read more to find out why. Please share this post with #sharehumanity hashtag. Photographs are courtesy of Paula Bronstein for International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

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11:56 am 25 April is a moment Manisha Dhakal will always remember. She was in her bedroom, when suddenly the whole house started to shake. “I just came out from my room and called my family to come out of the house. The shaking did not stop. It was a huge, huge shake. Finally, the ground stopped moving and I tried to call my friends, but there was no electricity and no mobile network. Fear had stopped our lives. All I could do was pray to God to keep my friends and family safe.”

Manisha Dhakal is a transgender activist and the Executive Director of the Blue Diamond Society (BDS), which is dedicated to improving the sexual health, well-being and human rights of sexual minorities in Nepal. Manisha and her colleagues searched local hospitals for missing lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender, intersex and questioning (LGBTIQ) friends. “When we reached the teaching hospital, we found the body of our transgender friend Ciatala. We recognized her because of the tattoo on her body.“

The earthquake cast many transgender people out into the streets as their homes crumbled. When relief camps were quickly set up, people without families were segregated into male and female camps, leaving out transgender people. So, the Blue Diamond Society sprang into action and organized tents for LGBTIQ people.”We provided displaced people with food, shelter, medical care and most importantly moral support in this time of difficulty,” said Manisha.

“During such times, it is not only important to provide people with physical support but also psychological support”. The community may have lost their homes but they discovered a new resolve and strength.

BDS circulated a flash appeal and gathered support from the international community, including the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

“We, who are often considered to be ‘fragile communities,’ are reminded every day that we need to build on our strengths and community competence, and that we need to fully participate in ongoing post-earthquake relief and recovery efforts that are taking place in Nepal — to make sure we are included — and not left behind,” said Manisha.

While the quake has affected the programmes and activities of LGBTIQ, on 10 August there was good news as the Nepal government issued the first passport with the new category “other” to a transgender woman.

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