Horn of Africa: Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers at the heart of the response

Published: 15 August 2011 9:39 CET

By Katherine Roux

When Abdullahi Ibrahim, Kenya Red Cross Society volunteer in Tana River District, Kenya, was asked why he volunteers to help pregnant women in his community, the answer was simple: “I feel happy when I help someone,” he said.

In Djibouti, amid 40-degree heat and the fasting hours of Ramadan, Safia Houssein Awaleh, a Djibouti Red Crescent volunteer visits people door-to-door in her community to pass on health messaging. She proudly states: “I work for my country, to enrich the community where I live.”

Further west in the dry Oromia lands of southern Ethiopia, Guyo Golicha, a volunteer from Tuka village explains his motivation to be a part of the Red Cross movement is because “I know this area well, so I can make sure the Red Cross can reach every corner of the community.”

Abdulllahi, Safia and Guyo represent just a few of the 120,000 volunteers of Red Cross Red Crescent (RCRC) throughout the Horn of Africa responding to the drought. They are the individuals that drive the response at a community-level, which allows RCRC programmes not only to develop, but also to sustain, long after this seasonal drought ends.

As a part of the local community, these volunteers also have the trust of people around them. They speak the same language, live in the same neighbourhood, and face similar challenges during a drought. And to each of them, the current drought is not something new.

Headlines in the news will eventually change, and the world may soon forget about the chronic needs in the Horn of Africa in six months time. But life for these volunteers will not; each of them will continue living in Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia, in their respective communities long after this drought period ends. These are the volunteers, which are the strength of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement.


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The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world's largest humanitarian organization, with 189 member National Societies. As part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, our work is guided by seven fundamental principles; humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. About this site & copyright