In times of crisis, the world seems fragile and out of control.
How do we keep it all together? Turns out you don’t need to be a saint or a superhero to help your fellow humans. You can be your ordinary self and still do extraordinary things. The simple actions you take today can mend and heal a broken world. And right along with it, maybe even your own disillusioned heart.
Take it from Sarah Petrin, a girl from Maine who has been trying to fix broken people and places since she was 15 years old. Through her life’s work, she has found that no matter our circumstances, our humanity is the glue that holds us together. In Bring Rain, Sarah invites readers on a journey through 20 countries over 20 years of humanitarian service and shares stories of the extraordinary people who taught her the rich rewards that come from helping others.
In this book, Sarah offers us a front-row seat to some incredible action moments from her own life, then invites us to venture out into our own neighborhoods with fresh energy to change and be changed by the people in our world. We can create a better future for ourselves and others, by writing a better ending to the story of today.
Sarah Dawn Petrin is a humanitarian and an educator from Maine.
Born in an African village during a season of drought, Sarah has helped
refugees since she was 15 years old. From responding to an active shooter
in the Capitol of Washington, DC to being held hostage by a warlord in
the Sahara Desert, Sarah has borne witness to the radical acts of ordinary
heroism that lead to global change. Sarah has worked in more than 20
countries with the United Nations and the Red Cross and is the founder of
Protect the People. She is a voice of authority who advocates for people
in need. She teaches on the Protection of Civilians and Human Security at
the U.S. Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute. Sarah has
a Master’s degree from the Refugee Studies Center at Oxford University. She lives between Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania where she enjoys running with her dog, Toby
From the Author
This book is dedicated to the “doers,” the “helpers,” and people who care. It is dedicated to the modern-day miracle workers, the humanitarians, who put their own lives on the line to save others.
Aid workers perform miracles every day. They secure food stockpiles before famine arrives, they land planes where there are no runways, they tap water when the well has run dry, they rescue children from the underground, they set prisoners free. They find money in places when all the resources in the world have run out. They are simply amazing, the best of the best.
These aid workers come from different backgrounds and have varying beliefs. Yet, they all share a faith in humanity. They believe in the power of extending goodwill to all people simply because they are human beings. They see the promise of a better world and they pursue it.
This book is dedicated to them, and to those of you who will join them in the days ahead. You don’t have to be a saint or a superhero to save lives. Whether you are traveling afar or staying close to home, you only have to see the needs around you and be ready to respond.
EARLY PRAISE FOR BRING RAIN
“Reading this book is like sitting and having a friendly and frank conversation with Sarah herself where she fills you in on the lessons she’s learned during her fascinating and varied career.”
—Anne C. Richard, former Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) at U.S. Department of State
“This book describes the power and paradox of humanitarian service. It changes us—perhaps even more than we change others. We become learners as much as we are teachers. We become beneficiaries as much as we are aid workers. We learn from local wisdom as much as we bring solutions to global problems. At its core, the most effective humanitarian work is about deep engagement with others that leads to mutual transformation.”
—Daryl Byler, Development Director, DC Bar Foundation and former Executive Director, Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding
“Drawing on her work in communities affected by natural disasters, refugee crises, and conflict, Petrin offers both a call to action and a blueprint for meaningful engagement in our complex world.”
—Dr. Gary Kirk, Director of the Center for Civic Engagement at Dickinson College
“This is an excellent book for any person young or old who is contemplating working as a humanitarian in the field or a headquarters. The book is packed with personal examples of someone who has lived the life over 20 years. The book holds your attention with examples of real-life dilemmas and makes you want to jump in the fray to help.”
—Colonel Brian Foster (Ret.), U.S. Army
“In this book, readers will see their shared story in the face of
crisis and learn hands-on ways to respond to the needs around
them. Because while the world does need each one of us, Sarah
shows us that we also really need the world.”
—Lisa-Jo Baker, bestselling author of Never Unfriended and
Cohost of the Out of the Ordinary Podcast
“This book helps me to be a better leader, educator, and
—Jennifer Tynan-Tyrrell, Program Coordinator at Yellow
Breeches Educational Center
“Sarah shows us that humanitarian action can start at your
front door or take you across the globe; this book emphasizes
the importance of thoughtful and critical reflection for those
who pursue humanitarian action as a career and highlights the
challenges and opportunities such a life can bring.”
—Jacob Kurtzer, Interim Director of
the Humanitarian Agenda, Center for Strategic
and International Studies (CSIS)
“This book is a testament to the simple but consequential principle of humanity. The idea that the rights and well-being of individuals affected by humanitarian crisis—wherever they might occur—must command the attention of humankind is pervasive in Sarah Petrin’s book. The book also stands for the proposition that each of us can—indeed must—serve this noble principle of humanity no matter what specific professional path we ultimately choose to travel.”
—Eric Schwartz, President of Refugees International and former Dean, Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
“In a broken world, many individuals wonder if there is hope for humanity and how to help those who are hurting. Bring Rain addresses those concerns, as well as many others, as Sarah demonstrates how to be an agent of change through her life stories.”
—Hannah Domaracki, student at Messiah College
“Sarah has written a solid and readable primer on the world of international humanitarian assistance based on her decades of experience in this field. It will serve as a useful tool for anybody contemplating a career devoted to assisting populations affected by crisis.”
—Doug Mercado, Visiting Lecturer, Princeton University
“This book is heartfelt, informative, moving, and educational.”
—Lindsay Musser Hough, Principal at Deloitte Consulting and Author of A Woman’s Framework for a Successful Career and Life
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