My Red Cross story - Bekele Geleta

Published: 6 May 2014 14:58 CET

My friends and I donated blood in university. That is my first direct memory of the Red Cross. Years later, I joined the Ethiopian Red Cross for what would be a life-long journey filled with equal parts humility, heartache and hope.

As a political prisoner, I had experienced hardship. But nothing prepared me for that first week with the Ethiopian Red Cross. I travelled to a Red Cross camp where 30,000 people were living because the lands that had supported them no longer bore food or water.

There was drought and mass famine in Ethiopia. In this camp, more than 100 people died every day – I have never seen such hunger. We re-engineered our supply chain processes so we could move more food faster to more places, to feed more people.

I went on to serve the Movement elsewhere, following in the aftermath of disease, disaster and conflict, hoping to get ahead of it, but never quite able to. Today we also focus on building stronger, more resilient communities able to withstand the shocks of disaster. As we serve the vulnerable, I suppose the Red Cross and Red Crescent will always follow in the wake of despair, but what we help build is hope.

After everything I have seen and done, hope is still strong.