Happy International Day of Friendship! We’re taking today to talk about international ties of friendship, rooted in trust, understanding, empathy, and solidarity.

But first, some context:

What is the International Day of Friendship?

World Friendship Day started as a hallmark holiday in the 1930s. In 2011, as a part of their movement towards the Culture of Peace, the UN internationally dedicated July 30 as a day for member nations, NGOs, and the public, to raise awareness of internationalism and diversity, in the hopes this would foster tolerance and understanding across countries, thereby promoting world peace.

You can read more about the UN’s reasoning and hopes behind the International Day of Friendship here: https://www.un.org/en/observances/friendship-day.

Examples of International Friendship 2019-2020:

If you keep up-to-date with the news, this hopeful bid for world peace seems far removed from reality, a dream never to be realized. We’d like to remind you (and ourselves) that the UN’s aims are still within reach by celebrating some recent examples of international comradery, even in tragic circumstances.

  1. The Australian bushfires

The Australian bushfires started in November 2019, lasting until January of 2020. The bushfires resulted in thirty-three recorded deaths, saw 110,000 square km of land burned, displaced thousands who lost homes, and devastated wildlife. {1]

The international response was strong. US celebrities such as singer Pink were quick to offer support, making significant donations, and using their platforms to raise awareness:

pink

^Pink raises awareness for the bushfires, providing links to pages accepting donations. Click to see Pink’s post on Twitter.[2] 

The international sense of support and empathy stretched past celebrities to the wider population. Online fundraising efforts were hugely successful, with one Facebook fundraiser for NSW Rural Fire Service raising more than $26million – the largest fundraiser ever on the platform. [3]

2. Hong Kong Protest

The Hong Kong Protests started in June 2019 in response to the extradition bill introduced in April, due to fears that the bill may lead to unfair persecution. Clashes between protestors and the police grew more frequent and more violent, resulting in a list of alleged human rights abuses against protestors.

Once again, the international response was impressive. Expressions of solidarity occurred worldwide, with demonstrations taking place in the major cities of 12 countries, including in London, Sydney, the US, Berlin, and Canada. [4]

yellow

^ Demonstrators in Vancouver holding yellow umbrellas in homage to the 2011 protests. [5]

Although several countries, including Britain, Taiwan, and Australia, have proposed special measures to absorb Hong Kong citizens as refugees, groups like Amnesty International continue to fight to preserve the human rights of protestors who are unable or unwilling to leave their homes. The Hong Kong protests, though politically divisive, have seen an outpouring of international support in solidarity and empathy. [6, 7]

3. COVID 19

We doubt that we need to tell you what COVID 19 is – we’re sure you’re well aware already. Nevertheless, the pandemic officially started in December of 2019 when cases were first reported in Wuhan, though it is suspected cases existed months before this. As the pandemic swept the globe, instances of solidarity, aid, and support for the worst-affected nations increased hugely. In Europe, citizens held moments of silence, donated, and helped provide aid to Italy and Spain – two of the nations which initially suffered the most. Since then, S.H.A.P.E has worked to provide fuel and food solutions for tribal people living in Tamil Nadu. Click to read more about our work to fight COVID-19.

A few months into lockdown, Black Lives Matter protests began to take hold in response to systemic racism following an instance of police brutality in America. Once again, an outpouring of international aid and support rushed through – huge fundraisers, social media activism, and peaceful protests took hold across the world, in support of our BAME friends.

A month or so later, the UN raised awareness for the Yemen humanitarian crisis, with millions threatened by famine, drought, war, poverty, and COVID-19. [8] International support grew rapidly – with Instagram offering particularly creative fundraising efforts:

art

^An Australian charity created and sold art prints, holding online auctions and fundraisers to donate profits to Yemen. [9] 

The takeaway:

We hope these examples of international support give you as much hope as they give us. What’s a good friend if not supportive? Whether you’re reading this post on the International Day of Friendship or not, we’ve provided a few ways you can be a supportive friend today:

  • Get informed – Knowing when your friend is in trouble and needs help is the first step to being a good, supportive friend. You can read some of our other blog posts or read about our projects to learn more about how communities in Tamil Nadu might need your help.
  • Get involved – Read some of our testimonials and visit our volunteering page to find out how you can help. Any help is appreciated, and there are a million ways to help out online from the comfort of your own home.
  • Provide support – Visit our donation pages to learn about how to provide aid. You can donate money, books, clothes, electronic equipment – contact us with anything you think might be of use to an underprivileged person.
  • Speak up – In all the examples we listed in this post, there were large networks of people helping each other out. We can’t do the work we do alone, and passing on our name really makes a huge difference. Feel free to shout us out on social media – give us a follow!
  • Get creative – Whatever your interests are, whatever your area of expertise, find a way to help that utilizes what you already have. Paint, compose, bake, run, sculpt – we welcome any proposals for fundraising ideas.

We hope you enjoyed this post, we hope to hear from you soon, and we wish you a Happy International Friendship Day!

Sources/Read more:

[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-50951043

[2] https://twitter.com/Pink/status/1213350834672586752

[3] https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/donations-pour-australian-wildfires-continue-burn-n1111156

[4]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reactions_to_the_2019%E2%80%9320_Hong_Kong_protests#International_reactions

[5] https://vancouversun.com/opinion/op-ed/opinion-do-wants-of-canadian-millennials-trump-needs-of-millennials-in-asia

[6] https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/countries-brace-for-influx-of-hong-kong-refugees-fleeing-chinas-crackdown/2020/07/02/8ee844a2-bc12-11ea-97c1-6cf116ffe26c_story.html

[7] https://www.amnesty.org/en/get-involved/take-action/stop-the-hong-kong-extradition-bill/

[8] https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/07/1069161

[9]https://www.instagram.com/patternforyemen/

– Written by Priya Contractor, Volunteer, SHAPE ngo.

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