My work is my message: neutrality and dedication in Damascus

Published: 7 February 2013 14:55 CET
  • Syrian Arab Red Crescent has 3,000 active volunteers, and up to 10,000 who can help respond to any emergency.
Syrian Arab Red Crescent has 3,000 active volunteers, and up to 10,000 who can help respond to any emergency.

After watching two shocking bomb attacks in Damascus on TV, Batoul, an enthusiastic 21-year-old Syrian student, was encouraged to take part in helping the people affected by the ongoing violence in Syria. She didn't know what to do or where to go, until she learned the humanitarian work that Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) was accomplishing in many parts of the country.

After five months of SARC experience, Batoul says the experience has shown her the importance of the Movement’s Fundamental Principles. “SARC's mission was not clear to a lot of people, but the crisis here has highlighted its role and mission,” she says. “With SARC I can help my community with neutrality and without any discrimination, I found this is the organization  for people who want to provide humanitarian assistance to all.”

Batoul’s strong drive for humanitarian work encouraged her to make involvement with SARC her main priority. She left behind university, but hopes the situation will get back to normal so she can complete her studies in law.

But even then, she says she is committed to continuing her volunteering duties with SARC – even after the crisis – to support her community during the recovery phase. She believes SARC is vital in providing support to vulnerable people, and she finds personal satisfaction in helping others.

Despite the security challenges and the risky situation which many volunteers work, Batoul’s family remains supportive to her humanitarian work and they are proud of what she does.

Asked if she has a specific message that she would like to tell her community or the world, Batoul said: "My work is my message."

First aid volunteers undertake two shifts per day, each lasting 12 hours. New volunteers receive one week of training in first aid followed by advanced first aid training for two weeks to so they are ready to assist even in complex emergencies. Finally they undertake a course in performing minor surgery.

At least 3,000 volunteers are actively involved in aid operations for the organization, and approximately 10,000 volunteers have been trained to provide support in disaster response, first aid, restoring family links, relief distribution and other priority activities.

As we finished our brief talk, the volunteers received a radio message to respond to a car bomb near one of the schools in Damascus where hundreds of displaced families are sheltered. Batoul immediately prepared and headed with the Emergency Medical team to the place of explosion.

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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