Henry Dunant: A Passionate Humanitarian
When you think of world-famous humanitarians, obviously the names of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, etc., may be at the top of your mind. However, a name you should never forget is Henry Dunant, founder of the International Red Cross and a key proponent of the Geneva Conventions. Many consider him as the Father of Modern Humanitarianism.
Henry Dunant was born in Geneva, Switzerland, on 8 May 1828, the first son of Jean-Jacques Dunant and his wife Antoinette Dunant-Colladon. Henry’s parents strongly stressed the value of social work; his father actively helped orphans and parolees, while his mother worked with the sick and the poor. Dunant, having joined the Evangelical Society after having a religious awakening, helped establish the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in Geneva. After an incomplete secondary schooling, he was apprenticed to a Geneva bank. In 1853, he travelled to Algeria to start a business but could not obtain the land concession that was essential for its operation. Then he decided to approach Napoleon III to obtain the business document he needed. Napoleon’s headquarters were in the small city of Solferino. When Dunant visited the city, he witnessed the Battle of Solferino and was shocked by what he saw: more than 40,000 dead and wounded lying on the battlefield with hardly any medical care, because the military services were overwhelmed.
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Dr Sajith Cyriac, Ph.D. (Media Education), is the General Editor of Better Yourself Books. He is an established author with 19 books to his credit. He is a former Editor of Inspirational Quote and former Vice Principal of St Pauls College, Bengaluru.