A passion for humanity trumps fear or worry for many volunteers

Publié: 15 septembre 2014 14:37 CET

Daniel James, 35, is a volunteer working with the Sierra Leone Red Cross. He has been a volunteer since primary school, but has recently found himself working in one of the most dangerous operations you could imagine: body management as part of the Red Cross response to Ebola in West Africa.

It is, Daniel say, potentially dangerous but vital work. “The job is risky indeed, many people are not willing to engage, but people are dying and if nobody is managing the dead bodies, the disease is going to spread,” he says. Fortunately, Daniel has experience in this area and has also worked in other dangerous operations during his long volunteer career.

“I am not really afraid because I worked with Red Cross in a similar life-threatening situation during the 11 year-long war when I was younger. The experiences with the atrocities during this time help me today to adapt and carry out my current role.”

He says it is a passion for humanity which keeps him dedicated to his work. “I keep going and working despite all the red flags, because it is the right thing to do,” he says. “I have a healthcare background and my ambition is to become a medical doctor. I am now working with a medical doctor from Congo and he provides tutoring to help me become more experienced and get closer to my ambition.”

As is common in Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers, Daniel’s passion is accompanied by pride at being able to make a difference every day to his community and country. “My pride stems from what we do in these hard times. It allows me and many others with similar mind-set to do the right thing while creating as safe environments as possible. People admire my courage for working with the Movement in its humanitarian mission.”

Daniel’s message to other volunteers is familiar, but no less powerful for this. Volunteers, he says, must have compassion and empathy for those who suffer. But the rewards are great.

“We all know that nobody can reward us for what we do compared to the risk we take daily. Money does not do it. The reward comes in more spiritual ways and that is what helps to keep the spirit of volunteerism and humanity for the vulnerable people.”

The passion, dedication and desire to do good in the world is something Daniel sees in many others. “Globally and locally, as young people, we make a positive change. We act!”

The Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa has been upgraded to an international health emergency by the World Health Organisation. The Red Cross societies in all affected countries are working as part of a coordinated response to contain and treat the disease, while ensuring surrounding countries are prepared to respond to any spread immediately. The courage and compassion of Daniel and his fellow volunteers makes all this possible.