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What Does it Mean to be Human?

Abby Raeder | Tanzania, United Republic of

On a late fall day, I began my long, arduous journey to the Iringa region of central Africa.

Day-to-day life in Ipalamwa holds many hardships. Purified water is scarce. Ground water is available only at central collecting stations in each hamlet. The risk of contamination is real. For women, their day begins by walking to a central water spigot to fill large plastic jugs for their family’s needs.

Lack of sanitation and inadequate nutrition are the pressing concerns in this region. The health of mothers-to-be is especially critical. They carry the future of this community. Insufficient prenatal nutrition causes stunted growth to 40% the region’s children. This affects not only the size of the children, but also their cognitive ability.

For one week, I joined Global Volunteers to document the pervasive problems of this area.

The question that kept replaying in my mind was, “What does it mean to be human?”

To be human is to care, to offer a comforting touch, a compassionate ear and an open heart to those in need. Our small band of volunteers...were human.


We are so comfortable. We have so much...

Tired of hearing the heart wrenching stories from across the globe, one day I finally decided to take action.

During a trip to India, ten years ago, I saw the challenges facing local, grass-roots non-profits. These non-profits are run by passionate directors who are invested in filling a specific need for their community. They work tirelessly, with little or no compensation.

Why not take my passion, photography, and volunteer my services where needed? And so my documentary work began.

Global Volunteers



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