A Kids Book About: The Podcast

Shahd Talks About Humanitarianism

Episode Summary

Shahd Alasaly, author of A Kids Book About Humanitarianism, talks about how anyone can be a humanitarian, and you can start today!

Episode Notes

Shahd Alasaly, author of A Kids Book About Humanitarianism, talks about how anyone can be a humanitarian, and you can start today!

A Kids Book About Humanitarianism (view book)

Full Book Description:

“Humanitarian” is a BIG word that really just means being a kind, compassionate person who has empathy for others. Does that sound like you? Learn what it means to be a humanitarian and how you can help your community today using the gifts and talents that make you special. Small acts of kindness go a long way!

About the Author:

Shahd Alasaly is a mother, entrepreneur, and social researcher. Her dedication to community-building and humanitarian work is inspired by her passion for spreading love and empathy in all aspects of life. Her vision for a brighter future continues to motivate her. 

*If you want to be on a future episode of A Kids Book About: The Podcast or if you have a question you’d like us to consider, have a grownup email us at listen@akidsco.com and we’ll send you the details. 

Episode Transcription

A Kids Book About: The Podcast

Shahd Talks About Humanitarianism



Matthew: What is humanitarianism?

Sophie: Humanitarianism is people getting treated fairly and kindly. 

Shahd: Humanitarianism is this super simple idea. And it's just really about being really, really, really kind to people all around the world about caring for the people that might be going through a tough time. 

For example, if people don't have enough food, trying to find ways to give people food, if people don't have a safe place to live, trying to figure out solutions.

So humanitarians are like helpers, um, that make the world a better place, a happier place for everyone. And you're helping people no matter where they live, what they look like, what language they speak, what foods they eat, right? The point is that we see this shared humanity with other people, and that's what makes us humanitarians.

Matthew: Welcome to A Kids Book About: The Podcast!  I’m Matthew. I’m a teacher, a librarian, and I’m your host. 

The voices you heard just a moment ago were from Sophie and Shahd. 

Each week we talk about the big things going on in your world with a different author from our A Kids Book About series. 

Shahd: My name is Shahd Alasaly, uh, pronounced “shaw-HID”. I am a mother, a daughter, a sibling, a wife, a writer, a Syrian American social researcher, and I am the author of a kid's book about humanitarianism.



Matthew: Hello, listeners! Welcome to a new episode of the podcast and welcome to Do Good Central. Today we are focusing our attention on the good we can do in this world, on our impact, on our ability to bring about change. Humanitarianism might be a new word for you, but I am pretty confident that you have seen humanitarianism in action, even if you didn’t yet have this new word in you vocabulary.

Shahd: The idea is that you don't have to be a, an older person. You don't have to be an adult to be a humanitarian. You can be a humanitarian as young as you are and as old as you are, right?

And so for example, if you're at school and you see somebody getting bullied and you stand up for them, that's an act of humanitarianism, right? If you're walking on the street and you see somebody doesn't have enough food to eat or drink and you stop by and you buy them a nice meal, that's an act of humanitarianism. For example, sending supplies to places that have been hit by disaster, or a big storm or earthquake, humanitarians might send things like blankets and clothes and toys to help people that lost their things. And sometimes it's just something as simple as spreading love, right? Giving hugs and smiles and kind words in a world that's just becoming a little bit unkind, right? So, kind words can make someone's day so much brighter and humanitarians are really good at spreading love and kindness and seeing the value in doing that.

Matthew: I know you all have great ideas about what these acts of service might look like as well. Sophie shared such a beautifully open response. 

Sophie: Giving money to people in need… showing them love and kindness. And giving them food.

Matthew: It takes a selfless heart to center on love and kindness. But at the heart of the word “Humanitarianism” is the word “human.” It’s as if to say “taking care of other humans is the most human thing any of us can do.”

Shahd: So a lot of it can feel selfish, right? Because it feels so good and rewarding and fulfilling to help people, who need help or to make somebody's life better in some way. It makes you feel really happy on the inside that you were able to brighten someone's day or knowing that you made a positive difference in someone's life. And so there are a lot of people that do engage in active humanitarianism.

And like you said, everybody in some way or another sometimes without us noticing it, the point of this is how can we look for acts of humanitarianism that we can engage in on top of everything else that we do. Right? 

But generally, people who do humanitarian work do feel a strong sense of fulfillment and satisfaction in their lives. They know that their actions are making the world a better place for people and that feeling of making a positive impact often brings a lot of happiness into our lives. 

Not only are we connecting with others and hopefully building a kind of a community with other people, but it's also showing that we care about one another and that common humanity that we see in each other. So there's so many positives that come from engaging in acts of humanitarianism.

Matthew: The word “empathy” kept coming up in my mind as I spoke with Shahd. Do you talk about empathy in school? It’s a word we bring up a lot in our school assemblies and class meetings. 

It’s a word Shahd focuses on a lot, too.

Shahd: Like I said earlier, we live in this increasingly unkind world sometimes and. I have so much hope in this next generation of beautiful children because I really do believe that empathy is a topic that is being really, really discussed and kis so important.

But in general, I feel like when you're showing empathy for the world and for other people, for the environment, right, it means that you care about you know, especially for other people, you care about their feelings, right? You're able to see somebody hurt and you have this deep sense of care.

And that, that can look like so many different things, right? So for example, empathy can look like offering support to somebody who's going through a tough time, right? So imagine your friend lost a pet and they're feeling really lonely and really sad. And so you might say kind words to comfort them and let them know that you're there for them if they want to reach out and talk to you. You might offer them a hug. And so, It's really about thinking, “If that happened to me, what would make me feel better”, right? 

Helping people without being asked. So again, imagine you see someone struggling with a heavy bag, right? You might go over and offer to help them, even if they didn't ask, because that is a kind of empathy in action.

And then another example can be, and there's so many examples, but if somebody's sharing their feelings, being kind, listening to them without judgment, being patient with other people when they explain how they feel, and, and, and listening to them, really, you know, compassionate listening.

And then most importantly, I think, um, is respecting differences, right? Everybody's different. And empathy really means that respect, um, of people that come from different walks of life and they have different experiences and you're able to respect them and show that kind of. Love through your empathy. 

Matthew: Let’s take a quick break. And when we return, Shahid will talk about how  humanitarianism is not just about acts of service, but also understanding our human impact on our society, on our culture, and globally, And how it can be, to borrow an expression, “the tide that raises all boats.”



Shahd: I'm very passionate about this work because it's what I do, it's everything that I do is how can we see the humanness in each other in such a divided society, right? And I'm not just talking about American society, I'm talking about the world. 

We live in a very divided world, where people are always pit against each other, and sometimes we fail to realize that the most simple thing, that we're all human, you know, can really bring us together. 

And so my work focuses on humanitarianism and solidarity, right? And, and bridging the gap between communities. And so yes, “human” in humanitarianism definitely highlights this focus on caring for other people. And, like I said, I mean, it goes beyond just performing acts of service, right? It's this intrinsic understanding that our impact is a part of the aspect of humanitarianism.

In addition to like just a very fundamental basic understanding that all humans deserve to be treated with respect and dignity and kindness, you know, regardless of where they're from.

Matthew: We’ll be back in just a moment. 



Matthew: Welcome back.

Today on the podcast we’re talking about humanitarianism with A Kids Book About author Shahd Alasaly.

It can be difficult to grapple with why we need humanitarian efforts in our world. What I mean by that is it can be difficult why putting the needs of others first isn’t the natural way of the world. 

Sophie, one of our listeners, put it this way:

Sophie: Why doesn't the world just treat it like that?

Matthew: The world is increasingly divided. Society has put a lot of attention on the ways we are different instead of focusing on or celebrating the ways we are the same. Instead, political views are pitted against one another. Social media portrays unrealistic and, frankly, untrue ideals. It’s hard to feel like we’re one when all of the world seems to focus on how we’re different.

Shahd: I just think now more than ever, I think looking for humanitarian opportunities and looking for ways, you know, to become more empathetic individuals in today's world is so important. 

I am such an advocate for people, you know, to come together in solidarity and, you know, put our differences aside and see our shared, you know, humanity. And so, how do we look for ways to have a more connected world? How do we build stronger communities? And how do we face the global challenges that are happening? Because obviously global challenges, you know, the macro affects the micro, right? 

You do see people affected by what's happening in the world on a micro scale. And of course, you know, obviously as empathetic human beings, you would hope that people's hearts. You know, are breaking whenever they hear of anything that's happening in the world that's, you know, awful or sad, but how, how can we use that as a reason to bring humanity together and inspire positive change and counteract, um, you know, hate and hatred and unkindness? How can we see that and then talk about it and talk about why it's, you know, not good to not be kind. And then how do we inspire positive change and then hopefully nurture future leaders, future humanitarians, that are going to, you know, help keep this world connected?

Matthew: Being a humanitarian means to focus on action. What can we do, what action can we take, to address this problem that we notice in our school, in our community, in our nation, in our world? Knowing where to start is, well… a great place to start!

Shahd: I think it's really important, number one, that we at home start having these conversations with our kids. That we empower them to feel like they are okay to go into their schools and, you know, the future places of work, place it and feel like one, their voice matters to look for opportunities to be a humanitarian, which means including others, but then also, you know, feeling included yourself. So how do you advocate for yourself? 

Important conversations to have: I think it's important to start a conversation with your children's school about different opportunities. So I remember my children used to go to a school in Chicago and they used to every year do blessing bags for the homeless. And so they would sit down and they would all bring, you know, their own supplies. They would line them up and they would go around and they would make blessing bags. And they would come back with like 10 to 20 blessing bags. We put them in the trunk and every time we'd see somebody that was houseless, we would, you know, roll down our window and give them a blessing bag. And that resonated so much with them. And to this day, they will make their own blessing bags and make sure they keep the car stocked with blessing bags.

It can be something really simple like that. That creates this profound impact on our children because how can we make them be global citizens, activists in the world that care about you know, more than just themselves and their little circle of friends, but really start looking for opportunities to make other people make sure their neighbors are well, make sure that you know the houseless person on the street is doing well, make sure that refugees that are coming into the United States are being treated with grace and being welcomed and being added to their circle of friends, right? 

So having these conversations, it all starts with a conversation is so important. And then advocate for education in their school. And so that means talking to the teachers, talking to the principal, making sure it's a school-wide effort that is being implemented.

Matthew: Our time’s almost up. I’m about to send you back out into the world. So let’s take a moment to consider what humanitarianism looks like, whether its work we do in big groups or at a larger scale, or if it’s something you notice yourself and choose to turn into action.

Shahd? What can we, the listeners, do in order to raise awareness of and engagement in acts of humanitarianism in our schools and our communities?

Shahd: My top two things are always education and conversations. And obviously modeling that behavior, right? 

So as a mom, I'm always looking for opportunities to take my children with me. If I'm doing any kind of humanitarian work. If we're going to make a food basket for somebody that we recently heard is a refugee that came into the country, for example, and we want to give them a welcome basket, I'll make sure that my children are with me shopping for the items, taking the items, packing the items, delivering the items, because I want them to take those life lessons with them into the future so that then in the future they're doing that with their children. 

And then celebrating acts of kindness. So how do we positively take that behavior and reinforce it, right? So celebrating, oh my gosh, somebody, you know, your child comes to you and tells you a story about how they stood up against a bully and defended somebody who was being attacked. Celebrate that. Take them out for ice cream. Tell them what a hero they were, how amazing they were, and reinforce those positive behaviors because, you know, sometimes, sometimes it's these things that stick in our child's Um, in our children's brains and that's what they take with them. 



Matthew: Thank you to Shahd Alasaly, author of A Kids Book About Humanitarianism, for joining us today. And special thanks to Sophie for lending their voice to this episode.

Sophie: My name is Sophie. I am nine years old. I live in Madison, Wisconsin. My favorite thing is my dog and watch.

Matthew: A Kids Book About: The Podcast is written, edited, and produced by me, Matthew Winner. Our executive producer is Jelani Memory. 

And this show was brought to you by A Kids Co. 

Follow the show wherever podcasts are found and check out other podcasts made for kids just like you by visiting akidsco.com.