By Patrick Fuller, IFRC
A memorial ceremony for three Nepal Red Cross Society members who died while on duty on 25 April has been held at the society’s blood bank in Kathmandu.
International Red Cross staff joined Nepalese colleagues as they paid tribute to Sanumaiya Kapali, 53, Lal Maya Gurung, 43, and Sirman Dangol 20, who were killed while running a blood donation drive in the Kastamandap, a world heritage site in Kathmandu’s historic Durbar Square.
Seven other people also died along with the Red Cross workers when the earthquake caused the building to collapse.
At the ceremony, friends and colleagues wept as they filed past a garlanded photograph of the three women. They laid flowers by the photograph and offered prayers in memory of their colleagues.
Dr. Manita Rajarnikar, Director of the Nepal Red Cross Society Central Blood Transfusion Service spoke of the exceptional qualities of the women. “Lal Maya had worked with us for 19 years as an assistant nurse. She made everyone laugh all the time. Sanumaiya was incredibly dedicated. She was always willing to help out at any hour anywhere. Simran had only been with us for four months as a volunteer. She had just received her nursing qualification and came from a poor family. Her father is ill and she took care of her brother and sister.”
Colleagues gathered to remember the women and their dedication to their Red Cross work.
After a minute’s silence, Martin Faller, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) earthquake response operation, conveyed a message of solidarity. “Our deepest condolences go out to the families and friends of our three colleagues,” he said. “They embodied the real spirit of the Red Cross and despite this tragic loss, their commitment serves as an inspiration to the thousands of volunteers who are now supporting the needs of earthquake survivors.”
During the ceremony Rajya Laxmi Shaiya, Vice Chairman of the local Red Cross sub-chapter, was inconsolable. “Sanumaiya was like a sister to me,” she said as she wept. “We had known each other for 20 years. Just before the earthquake struck, she called me and asked me to come and help at the blood drive, but I got an urgent call from home and couldn’t go. She was a very smart woman and was always ready to help others. I will miss her so much.”
More than 4,000 volunteers of the Nepal Red Cross Society have been deployed to support the earthquake response operation. They are working across all affected districts helping to deliver emergency relief and shelter material. They are also providing emergency first aid and have been active in efforts to provide clean water, improved sanitation and public education around disease prevention and good hygiene practises.