Sometimes shelter means so much more than a roof over your head
Any Survival 101 course will teach you that we need only three things to survive in this world: food, water, and SHELTER. Even more than a place to kick back and relax or store our belongings, shelter provides important protection from the elements and other outside dangers, such as the looming threat of a predator.
Global history, which is plagued with periods of genocide (or the systematic killing of an ethnic, religious, or political group), offers an unfortunate reminder that all too often, the predators we need protection from are other human beings.
During these extreme times, some ordinary citizens who bear witness to the repeated atrocities against “the other” decide to take extraordinary action. Harvesting power from an internal sense of moral courage, these individuals risk their own lives to save friends, neighbors, and even strangers. PROOF has had the opportunity to work with several such rescuers, or “Extreme Givers,” who survived and resisted the extreme killings in Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Holocaust in Europe.
Each of these Extreme Givers offered shelter to a person or people being targeted for extermination by Hutu extremists, the Khmer Rouge, Bosnian Serbs, or Nazis. In these examples, shelter meant so much more than a roof over their heads. It required risking their lives to plot, deceive, and conceal, often for long periods of time and in bad conditions.
In regions of extreme conflict, offering your home can often mean offering your life.
Cristine Kamunani, RWANDA
Nut Seng, CAMBODIA
Hasan Jusović, BOSNIA
Gesele Vandergract, AMSTERDAM
The above photos and testimonies were taken from PROOF's ongoing project, Picturing Moral Courage: The Rescuers. Although these stories are extreme, offering shelter doesn’t always have to mean risking your life. There are many circumstances that can disrupt a person’s living situation, and offering support on any level can often have life-saving effects.
How can you give shelter?
- Share your umbrella with that poor bloke who forgot one and is hiding under a newspaper.
- Offer a couch or floor to someone in your life who might need it.
- Give to organizations that help keep struggling families afloat.
- Find a local shelter and donate some time, some food, or some comfort and charm.
Do you know of someone who offered shelter during a time of need? We'd love to help celebrate these Givers! Send the story and some images our way and we'll post them online. Email, comment below, tweet, write us on our Facebook page, send us snail mail, or send a paper airplane or Hedwig our way. We know there are amazing stories out there, and we want to hear them!