Our 24 favourite photos of 2019

Every small act of kindness matters. Put together they are powerful; they can change our lives. These 24 photos from around the world are fundamentally about humanity, and how kindness makes a difference.

From war-ravaged cities to disaster zones, from a drought-hit farm to a refugee camp filled with children – we remember 2019.

Thank you to everyone, everywhere, who this year did something for humankind, in big ways and small. You make the world a better place and we dedicate our favourite photos to you.


Preparation is everything, as the volunteers in this mock cyclone exercise will tell you. With a firehose squirting plumes of fake rain, they run for shelter in front of a lively crowd. Many of the people here live in houses made from tin, bamboo, and wood and this performance helps them learn how to stay safe in a disaster. Red Cross helps people to prepare and stay safe in disasters around the world. Photo: American Red Cross


Every year scores of Red Cross emergency volunteers provide words of kindness, a listening ear, support and advice to people in disaster evacuation and recovery centres. Among them this year was Cilla who was forced to flee her home after bushfires flared up around Kempsey in October. Photo: Australian Red Cross/Dilini Perera


The Al Hol camp in North-East Syria is filled with children, mostly from Syria, but there are faces from every continent. Many of the kids, like Omar, were wounded in the conflict. The 10-year-old had an operation at the camp’s new Red Cross Red Crescent field hospital. Photo: ICRC/Mari Aftret Mortvedt


With the aid of one generator this team of Red Cross specialists from Mozambique, Canada and Finland, worked with local medical staff to deliver two babies by C-section during a power outage. This field hospital was sent by Canadian Red Cross after Cyclone Idai hit in March. Photo: Canadian Red Cross/Angela Hill


Meet the Tetris Challenge. The social media photo craze has been helping raise awareness of the emergency responders who save lives around the world. Here Mexican Red Cross take up the challenge and lay out the kit from one of their ambulances and an urban rescue unit. Photo: Mexican Red Cross


Dale Cordwell, a woodwork artist, was born with Non-Thalidomide Phocomaelia. That’s “Latin for missing a few bits and pieces,” he said. When his home was severely damaged by floods in February he quickly rebuilt his front steps so tradies could get in and start repairs. Red Cross volunteers supported thousands of people, including Dale, before, during and after the floods. Photo: Australian Red Cross/Aysha Leo


“I was told in high school you can’t make a career out of sport, especially if you’re female. I literally broke down and cried,” said Rose. At the time, her life wasn’t easy and she was facing a lot of challenges. Since then we’ve been at her side helping her to succeed. These days she knows there are no limits to what she can do. “Now I look back at the teacher and just shake my head,” she said. Photo: Australian Red Cross/Dilini Perera


Mo Mo lives with her daughters in a displaced persons’ camp in Cox’s Bazar after fleeing Myanmar. She is a volunteer helping other camp residents using the first aid and disaster preparedness skills she learnt from Red Cross Red Crescent. Photo: American Red Cross/Brad Zerivitz


Farmers Sue and Robert Strahorn walk through a dust-storm on their drought-hit property. Sue believes the key to coping is coming together as a community. She volunteers helping facilitate Red Cross events that give people support, fun things to do or help inspire conversations. “Farmers walk away with smiles on their faces and a little less weight on their shoulders,” she said. Photo: Australian Red Cross/Aysha Leo


In June more than 15,000 Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and young leaders gathered in Solferino – the birthplace of Red Cross. They met to debate pressing humanitarian concerns and discuss issues like climate change and the role young people can play in shaping a safer and more humane world. Photo: Italian Red Cross/Danilo Mariniello


Every day we’re inspired by the human spirit in the face of adversity. Despite the flash floods that hit this region in March, leaving many families with nothing, these kids can find reasons to smile. Families in this community received humanitarian assistance from Red Cross Red Crescent. Photo: Afghan Red Crescent Society/Meer Abdullah


Thousands of people who live in remote communities had to evacuate when Tropical Cyclone Trevor loomed towards the Top End in March. It was the Northern Territory’s largest evacuation since Cyclone Tracy in 1974. Red Cross teams helped run evacuation centres and provided support, from a listening ear to time out kicking around a footy. This is our volunteer Georgie Mumford and Fantasia Mamarika from Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Photo: Australian Red Cross/Dave Hancock


Years of conflict, drought and insecurity in Yemen has left more than 24 million people in need of aid. Red Cross and Red Crescent teams provide essentials like food, clean water, household items, basic medical services and psychosocial support. But more help is needed. Photo: ICRC/Al-Karar al-Moayed


These students from Tuvalu, a string of low-lying islands at risk from rising sea levels, learnt first aid skills with Tuvalu Red Cross this year. Along with first aid, our Tuvalu colleagues also help people respond to natural disasters and the increasing impacts of climate change. Photo: IFRC/Sean Gallagher


Every day our staff and volunteers help people to build connections and friendships. This is one of our volunteers, Rhiannon, and Joan who she regularly visits. In May, the pair went on radio with ABC to share the story of their friendship. Photo: ABC Newcastle


Mbambu Yalala Noella (24) has one of the toughest jobs in the world. She is one of the many brave Red Cross volunteers making sure people who have died of Ebola are buried safely and with dignity. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is grappling with the second-largest Ebola outbreak in history. Safe and dignified burials are critical to halting its spread and saving thousands of lives. Photo: IFRC/Corrie Butler


When an erupting volcano forced Deejay and his family to flee their home in the middle of the night, their dog - named Follow - was at their side. "[Vanuatu Red Cross] was the first organisation to reach us. Red Cross assisted us with tarpaulin, work tools, solar lights, fuel and food,” said Deejay’s dad, Andrew. Photo: Australian Red Cross/Dilini Perera


Two-thirds of people want to do more to help people in need, a new Red Cross survey found. And 16 to 17 year olds topped the polls, with eight of ten saying they want to help others. Without our network of volunteers we couldn’t do what we do. In March, more than 350 students from Melbourne High School hit the streets to collect for Red Cross Calling, our annual community fundraiser. Photo: Melbourne High School


As Hurricane Dorian headed toward their home on Abaco in the Bahamas, Christina, Lorvensky and their newborn son headed to an evacuation centre at a local school. “I kept my son safe under my arm,” said the young dad. “We came to Red Cross because we heard they’re giving help.” Red Cross launched a major relief operation after the September hurricane. Photo: IFRC


“There’s always a lot of laughter. It has a great energy and that’s why so many people are popping in and out every day,” Rodney Short said. Rodney (second from the right) and his friends work and volunteer at Street Beat, our community hub in Ceduna. Photo: Australian Red Cross / Aysha Leo


In northeast Nigeria, which has suffered a decade of conflict, almost 22,000 people, many of them children, have been registered as missing with the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (ICRC). Falmata lost her 10-year-old son when her village was attacked six years ago. “Every night when we go to sleep I think about him. My eyes stay open until daybreak.” Red Cross works in Australia and around the world searching for people missing because of war, disaster and migration. Photo: ICRC


Families in Pandeglang spent months sleeping in temporary shelters after tsunami waves hit their seaside town. This area in Java’s Banten province, was the area hardest hit by the December 2018 disaster. Many months on, Indonesian Red Cross, supported by Australian Red Cross and colleagues from around the world, were continuing to help affected communities. Photo: IFRC/Surya Kusuma


“In my life I never, never, never dreamed I would ever have dessert after having my meal. But now I can have dessert from morning to night-time.” It’s one small way Elie’s life has changed since arriving in Australia. Elie and his family, who come from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, spent their lives fleeing violence, war and persecution before coming to Australia. Elie is now studying maths, helping other newly arrived families and hopes to one day become a teacher. Red Cross helped his family start their new life. Photo: Australian Red Cross/Dilini Perera


When disasters strike or conflict breaks out around the world aid workers are ready to go wherever they’re needed. This year Melbourne nurse Kieren Box went to help at a hospital in South Sudan. Photo: ICRC/Florian Seriex

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