Papa Panzu: The father of the Red Cross of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Publicado: 29 julio 2013 13:26 CET

By Mirabelle Enaka, IFRC

It is with sparkling eyes that Paul Panzu Mambiku relates his story of joining the Red Cross of the Democratic Republic of the Congo 56 years ago. Known as Papa Panzu, the father of nine children is now 71 years old, a far cry from the teenager who turned up on the doorstep of the National Society in 1957 looking for a way to help his community.

He was immediately drawn to the idea of disaster preparedness and response and, after training, became a member of the disaster management team. He was later appointed national youth director, a position he has held for the past 20 years. 

His duties include promoting youth activities within the Red Cross. Young people represent approximately 30 per cent of active volunteers and are involved in first-aid activities in schools and communities, focusing on road safety awareness.

Papa Panzu also developed a programme in schools based on the promotion of humanitarian values, which not only serves as a basis for volunteering in schools, but also contributes to educating children about the promotion of peace.

“I enjoy the energy of youth,” says Papa Panzu. “They have a lot to offer, and they help to keep me young!”

Recently, the youth team has created a regional forum that brings together young people from central African National Societies and encourages the development of leisure activities for youth, the exchange of expertise, and the promotion of income-generating activities. 

Today, Papa Panzu’s desire is to work towards consolidating his achievements, although he continues to encourage young people to join the Red Cross.

“I believe that only youth can truly ensure the sustainability of the Movement,” he says. “It is my vision to have at least one person in each family volunteer for the Red Cross.”