Humanitarian QuotesThe following humanitarian quotes are from well-known humanitarians who shared their wisdom for helping others.

Humanitarian Quotes

1. “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights activist and clergyman

2.  “If you can’t feed a hundred people, feed just one.”

– Mother Teresa,  founder of The Missionaries of Charity

3. “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.”

– Mahatma Gandhi, Indian nationalist and civil rights leader

4. “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”

Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid activist and former president of South Africa

5. “The destiny of world civilization depends upon providing a decent standard of living for all mankind.”

– Norman Borlaug, father of the Green Revolution and credited with saving over one billion people from starvation

6. “The fact is that ours is the first generation that can look disease and extreme poverty in the eye, look across the ocean to Africa, and say this, and mean it. We do not have to stand for this. A whole continent written off – we do not have to stand for this.”

– Bono (Paul David Lewis), lead singer of U2 and international philanthropist

7. “Since the world has existed, there has been injustice. But it is one world, the more so as it becomes smaller, more accessible. There is just no question that there is more obligation that those who have should give to those who have nothing.”

– Audrey Hepburn, actress and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador

8.  “When we live in a world that is very unjust, you have to be a dissident.”

– Nawal El Saadawi, Egyptian feminist, writer, and psychiatrist

9. “To say that on a daily basis you can make a difference, well, you can. One act of kindness a day can do it.”

– Betty Williams, Irish activist and founder of the Irish peace movement, Community of Peace People

10. “The power of human empathy, leading to collective action, saves lives, and frees prisoners. Ordinary people, whose personal well-being and security are assured, join together in huge numbers to save people they do not know, and will never meet….Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s places….We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”

– J.K. Rowling, author, philanthropist, and founder of the children’s charity, Lumos


– Jordanna Packtor

Sources: Brainy Quote, All That is Interesting, MSN Glo J.K. Rowling, Harvard Gazette,
Photo: Flickr


Read global poverty quotes



With so many governments in the western world experiencing fiscal gridlock, major budgetary cuts to social services are being debated and implemented. In the United States, individual states faced over $500 billion in cumulative shortfalls from 2009 to 2012. This places a heavy burden on private industry and private donors to pick up the slack.

Despite the economic downturn, we must find a way to continue to give to causes that help those less fortunate. To remind us of our duty as humans, here are giving quotes from leaders throughout history:

  • “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”—Mother Teresa
  • “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”—Charles Dickens
  • “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”—Winston Churchill
  • “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” – Kahlil Gibran
  • “Happiness doesn’t result from what we get, but from what we give.” – Ben Carson
  • “My mother told me that life isn’t always about pleasing yourself and that sometimes you have to do things for the sole benefit of another human being.”—Chelsea Handler
  • “By giving people the power to share, we’re making the world more transparent.”—Mark Zuckerberg
  • “No one has ever become poor by giving.”—Anne Frank
  • “The degree of loving is measured by the degree of giving.”—Edwin Louis Cole
  • “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance for those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
  • “If you get, give. If you learn, teach.” – Maya Angelou
  • “Love grows by giving. The love we give away is the only love we keep. The only way to retain love is to give it away.” – Elbert Hubbard

Remember these giving quotes and try to work the lessons into your daily lives. Humanity has a long way to go and much more to achieve, but through the practice of giving we can surely facilitate our journey.

-Sunny Bhatt

Sources: Good Reads, Psychology Today, Oprah, Brookings
Photo: Quotes Wave

The best way to lean about humanitarian work is to participate in it. But for those who are still getting their feet wet or are unsure where they fit in, the following books are must-reads to offer inspiration and possibly get your blood burning enough to climb on board whole-heartedly.

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
By Nicholas D. Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn

Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning husband-and-wife journalists Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the book follows its authors’ belief that individual stories are more powerful for calling people to action than statistics. The book is set up in two parts, where the first half is a series of essays recounting Kristof and WuDunn’s research regarding the oppression of women in (mostly) the developing countries of the world, and the second is a call for action – complete with steps to be taken and records of what is already being done.

Humanitarian Alert: NGO Information and Its Impact on US Foreign Policy
By Abby Stoddard

Stoddard writes a convincing account of how NGOs, even those unfunded in the country of action, have the power to effect local state policy. Her book compares the negative and positive aspects of NGOs, sifting through to determine an estimation of usefulness. Humanitarian Alert promises “[a]n array of sources, from embassy telegrams to interviews with state and non-state actors, creat[ing] a compelling picture of how narratives and numbers in humanitarian crises help or hinder response.”

Enough: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty
By Roger Thurow & Scott Kilman

Written by two former Wall Street Journal reporters, Enough asks how it can be that there are people starving when we possess the tools and technology to feed everyone. With research and personal accounts from all over the world this book will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about how people are fed in the world today.

An Imperfect Offering
By James Orbinski

The memoir of the man who has become one of the world’s foremost humanitarian doctors, the book recounts the suffering and dispassion left unchallenged in the world today and carries Orbinski’s belief in “the good we can be if we so choose.” The Observer writes, “A lesser man could have capitulated. Not so Orbinski, for whom, one feels, celebrity of any kind is far less interesting than the central question with which he struggles in this compelling book: ‘How are we to be in relation to the suffering of others?’”

In the Eyes of Others: How People in Crises Perceive Humanitarian Aid
By Caroline Abu-Sada

The misconceptions about aid held by those who benefit from it can be baffling. By divulging many of these false beliefs, Abu-Sada alerts humanitarian aid groups from all over the world to improve the way they promote themselves to those they are trying to help. The misconceptions of those in crisis and the developing world can greatly hinder the work for groups such as Doctors Without Borders and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), but In the Eyes of Others Abu-Sada explains how best to avoid common confusion and promote the true purpose of an organization in ways that will be positively received by foreign communities.

Whether any one of these listed books suggests your true calling, they each have a lot to teach us about how foreign policy and aid are received by, and influence, those they are meant to help.

-Lydia Caswell

Sources: Farming First, Amazon, The Guardian
Photo: Innovation Story

quotes from people that changed the world
What do a French priest, Spanish poet, U.S. President, Scottish philosopher and self-freed African American all have in common?

They all think it’s time to end world poverty. Famous and brilliant men and women have been saying for years that at last we have the ability to make lasting change in the war on hunger.  Below are ten quotes from people that changed the world.

1. “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” – Frederick Douglass, escaped slave, abolitionist leader and supporter of woman’s rights.

2. “The war against hunger is truly mankind’s war of liberation.” – John F. Kennedy, former U.S. President

3. “The real tragedy of the poor is the poverty of their aspirations.” – Adam Smith, Scottish philosopher

4. “Hunger is not an issue of charity. It is an issue of justice.” – Jacques Diouf, Food and Agricultural Organization Director-general

5. “This is the first generation in all of recorded history that can do something about the scourge of poverty. We have the means to do it. We can banish hunger from the face of the earth.” – Hubert H. Humphrey, former U.S. Vice President

6. “[P]eace does not mean just putting an end to violence or to war, but to all other factors that threaten peace, such as discrimination, such as inequality, poverty.”– Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese opposition politician and chairperson of the National League for Democracy in Burma

7. “What I would say to the young men and women who are beset by hopelessness and doubt is that they should go and see what is being done on the ground to fight poverty, not like going to the zoo but to take action, to open their hearts and their consciences.” – Abbé Pierre, French priest and member of the Resistance in WWII

8. “Poverty is everyone’s problem. It cuts across any line you can name: age, race, social, geographic or religious. Whether you are black or white; rich, middle-class or poor, we are ALL touched by poverty.” – Kathleen Blanco, former Governor of Louisiana

9. “The day that hunger is eradicated from the earth there will be the greatest spiritual explosion the world has ever known. Humanity cannot imagine the joy that will burst into the world.” – Federico Garcia Lorca, Spanish poet

10. “Hunger is not a problem. It is an obscenity. How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank, Holocaust victim

Change isn’t just needed, it’s also possible. It’s time to join the movement that’s fighting back against the greatest killer of people the world has ever seen – hunger. If any of these people inspire you, it’s because they accomplished something in the face of great opposition.

People are what change the world. Join us.

– Lydia Caswell

Sources: Do One Thing, Brainy Quote, Do Something Now
Photo: PBS

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

King is arguably one of America’s most influential civil rights activists of all times.  He was able to achieve significant political change through his non-violent protests and demonstrations, which advocated for equality between all races.  In 1964, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work towards social justice and he selflessly donated all of the prize money of $54,123 to the civil rights movement.  He is best known for his “I Have a Dream” speech, which has inspired humanitarians all over the world.

Harriet Tubman

Tubman was an African-American who overcame slavery just so that she could save others from the same fate.  Tubman was born into slavery in Maryland in 1822 and was often beaten by her master until she was able to escape to Philadelphia in 1849. Even after escaping such a difficult life, she risked it all to return to Maryland, as well as multiple other states, in order to rescue others.  Throughout her life, she led 13 different missions that rescued 70 slaves by using the Underground Railroad.  She also spied on the Confederacy during the Civil War for the Union.

Bill Gates

Gates, Chairman and CEO of Microsoft, is one of the richest men in the world and virtually has been since 1995, but many people do not realize his immense wealth is nearly $80 billion. Exactly how much Gates has pledged is not known, but he has donated at least $29 billion of his fortune to charitable causes. He donates to multiple causes, but is very devoted to eradicating malaria and as part of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; multiple awards have been presented to him because of his humanitarian efforts.

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa was a devout Catholic trained by the Sisters of Loreto who started her career of serving others by traveling to India.  There, she worked as a teacher, and having observed the extreme poverty existing in India, she started a new order called The Missionaries of Charity.  The main goal of this order was to look after the people that nobody else was looking after.  She spent 45 years of her life helping others and received the Nobel Peace Prize for actively helping the poor in every way possible.

Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi moved from India to England to study law after the death of his father in 1888.  There, he studied not only law, but also two religious texts: the Hindu Bhagavad Gita and the Bible.  He remained committed to both scriptures for the entirety of his life because the Bhagavad Gita awakened a sense of pride for India in him and the teachings of humility and forgiveness from the Bible inspired him to lead India to independence from Great Britain.

For 30 years he advocated for peaceful protests and demonstrations to lead the British to relinquish India from their hold.  He was also a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize owing to his efforts and philosophy that inspired movements for freedom and civil rights around the world.

Kenneth W. Kliesner

Sources: Biography Online, ATI, Biography Online, Better Get a Website, Biography Online