Over the past three decades, the Church of Scientology Volunteer Ministers have become known as a global force for help, mobilizing thousands to assist in times of natural disasters, no matter how far-flung or remote—earthquakes and tsunamis, floods and fires, hurricanes and typhoons.
Whenever and wherever disaster strikes, Volunteer Ministers are there, helping those in critical need, setting up shelters, organizing food and supply lines, assisting firefighters, police, military and emergency workers.
One of the guys with the yellow shirts said, ‘Can we help you?’ And I looked at him and I said, ‘Well, what can you do?’
He said, ‘We’ll do anything.’ And no matter what we asked them to do—carry patients, guard the door, sort supplies, run errands—it didn’t make any difference. They didn’t ask any questions, they just did it.
— Surgeon and humanitarian, Miami, Florida
When disaster struck at the World Trade Center, more than 800 Volunteer Ministers responded, arriving at Ground Zero to render assistance in the wake of a tragedy that claimed thousands of lives. In the hours, days and weeks that followed, beleaguered police, firefighters and rescue teams came to know that if one needed help, the answer was to “find a Yellow Shirt.”
If New York was the crucible for the delivery of genuine aid and assistance in a time of cataclysm, that commitment would be forged again and again at disaster sites around the world. In Louisiana and the surrounding region, Volunteer Ministers rescued and succored victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In London, they worked with police to restore calm in the aftermath of terrorist bombings. In Nepal, India and Pakistan, they assisted thousands left homeless by massive floods. And so it has been at hundreds of disaster sites worldwide, and so it continues with every natural and man-made disaster.
Today the Volunteer Ministers are perhaps the most recognizable independent relief force in the world, spanning six continents, 120 nations and providing assistance to more than 18 million individuals.
The photographs in the following pages are a few of thousands, selected to give a face to those whose dedication and courage demonstrate every day their motto that “Something can be done about it.”