Volunteering in the midst of adversity: Red Cross volunteers affected by Eta & Iota help others cope

Belize Red Cross volunteers help communities from flood waters following Hurricane Eta

Belize Red Cross volunteers rescue communities from flood waters following Hurricane Eta

Photo: Belize Red Cross

Belize, 21 December 2020: It is said that ‘in times of adversity and change, we really discover who we are and what we are made of’ and this was evident in the aftermath of Hurricanes Eta and Iota in Belize, where Red Cross volunteers impacted by the floods, were on the frontline helping others who were also affected.

Jenine Kerr from Burrell Boom Village in Belize District stayed in the shelter in her community after her house was flooded. After receiving training from the Belize Red Cross approximately two years ago under the Community Disaster Response Team (CDRT) training programme, Jenine forms part of a cadre of volunteers equipped to help in times of disasters. However, in this instance, the disaster literally hit home.

“I was home when [the floods from] Hurricane Eta started affecting Belize. We got a lot of rain and the river kept rising and eventually my house got flooded out and [I had to go to] the shelter,” shared Jenine.

However, being displaced did not stop her from executing her duties: “I have been helping out in the kitchen. We sanitize on a regular basis; because of COVID-19 we have to keep the place clean, especially because we have a lot of children around,” shared the mother of 5-year-old twins, Jordan and Jordany.

Kimberly Seguro, also from Burrell Boom Village, is the President of the CDRT in her community and was also impacted by Eta, two years after her family was subjected to another catastrophe.

“I was affected by a fire two years ago and I was able to rebuild … and now the flood came and destroyed the flooring [of the house]” she noted. However, despite the calamities she experienced, Kimberly is grateful for the training from the Belize Red Cross. “During the fire, I knew what to do and because I knew what to do, lives were saved. Our home was not saved but lives were saved,” she highlighted.

Kimberly added that the CDRT training also came in useful after Hurricane Eta: “Here at the shelter, we know how to take care of ourselves and take care of the entire village. We assess the other families and ensure that they get assistance from the Belize Red Cross to meet their needs.”

Herlet Bull lives with her husband in Lemonal Village in Belize District and not only was her home impacted by the floods but her husband, who is a farmer, lost all his crops. They retreated to a shelter close to their community, where Herlet helps with cleaning, cooking and anything else she can.

When asked how she has managed to still help others even in her time of adversity, Herlet explained: “Although I lost everything, as a volunteer with the Belize Red Cross, I would still like to help people because they were affected too. We help each other; they help me cope with it and I help them cope with it.”

The Belize Red Cross continues to assist families impacted by the hurricanes and has received support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to further help improve the lives of over 5000 people over the next four months. With the help of its volunteers, the Belize Red Cross will continue distributions of food and hygiene kits, promotion of disease prevention measures, as well as roll out a cash and voucher assistance programme for the most vulnerable.

For more information or to arrange media interviews, please contact:

In Belize: Lily Bowman, Belize Red Cross Director General - mailto:[email protected] | +1 501 627 8801

In Jamaica: Trevesa DaSilva, IFRC Communications Officer - [email protected] | +1 876 818 8575

In Panama: Susana Arroyo Barrantes, IFRC Regional Communications Manager - [email protected] | + 506 8416 1771

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