World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day 2023
Henry caring for the wounded in Solferino, Hilda helping hurricane victims in Port Vila, Mohamed monitoring the nutritional condition of the inmates in Baidoa prison, Yulima teaching first aid to people with disabilities in Maracay, and Luna rescuing migrants on the shore of Ceuta – they, like many Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers around the world, offer care, a hand of compassion and a life-changing breath of humanity to those who are most vulnerable. #FromTheHeart
Today, on World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, we celebrate the legacy of Henry Dunant – whose vision led to the creation of the worldwide Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement – and the countless volunteers who came after him. Their unwavering commitment and exemplary dedication to helping anyone in need, anywhere and to upholding our Fundamental Principles at all times – whether responding to natural hazards, climate crises, conflicts, health emergencies, displacement, or migration – is admired around the world.
We nonetheless face tremendous challenges in carrying out our humanitarian action in a world beset by uncertainty and so many complex and multi-dimensional crises.
International attention is diverted from protracted and low-visibility crises, and resources are lacking to ensure the continuity of aid to those most in need and sustain the local action of humanitarian organizations and workers who are closest to the affected communities.
Natural hazards, climatic disasters and health emergencies are multiplying and reaching unprecedented scale.
The parties involved in armed conflicts and violence often ignore some of the most basic rules of humanitarian law and hamper neutral and impartial humanitarian organizations’ access to vulnerable people – access that should be free and safe. While there are those who challenge humanitarian principles, principled humanitarian action is as vitally important as ever.
Our Red Cross and Red Crescent family is at the forefront of humanitarian assistance and ensuring protection for those who need it most. The world has increasingly seen how effective our Movement can be in addressing overlapping crises and providing principled humanitarian assistance. Our strength lies in our unity, our determination to carry forward the ideals of neutral, impartial, independent humanitarian action and our commitment to the humanitarian cause.
Today, we celebrate the millions of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and staff around the world, who every day in their respective countries, regions and communities carry forward the determination of Henry Dunant to provide hope and dignity in the midst of despair to people in vulnerable situations without distinction or thought of personal gain.
Happy World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day! #FromTheHeart
Mirjana Spoljaric, ICRC President
Mercedes Babé, Standing Commission Chair
Francesco Rocca, IFRC President
International Volunteer Day 2022: Believe in the power of kindness
Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are everywhere.You’ll find them in your street, in your local community, in every corner of the world.You may even be one of them.
Every day, our millions of volunteers bring kindness to those who need it—no matter who or where they are.
Whether it’s by offering a hot drink or food,
Listening to someone and supporting their mental wellbeing,
Delivering essential supplies or cash to remote communities,
Giving or teaching lifesaving first aid,
Offering people on the move a safe space to rest,
Or helping communities adapt to climate change.
Acts of kindness like these, even if they sometimes feel small, make a huge difference to the lives of people in crisis.
Because kindness is powerful.And kindness is contagious—one small act can lead to another, and another, and another.
"Throughout the year, our millions of volunteers have been bringing hope and help to hundreds of millions of people around the world."
IFRC Secretary General
At the IFRC, we believe in our volunteers. We believe in the power of kindness.
Humanity, our first Principle, starts with kindness.
And we believe we can all #BeHumanKind.
"I want to thank our Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteerswho are responding to every emergency, in every corner of the world, also in this very moment."
On International Volunteer Day, as with every other day of the year, we deeply thank our incredible, unstoppable volunteers.
You are appreciated. You are supported. You are valued.
The IFRC was created to bring kindness – and kindness is needed more than ever
“The world is bleeding, and it needs help now”.
Stark words of warning from a humanitarian leader shaken by a brutal war and living under the shadow of a global pandemic.
I did not pen these words. They were written in 1919, by Henry Davison, the leader of the American Red Cross.
His big idea was that the world’s Red Cross societies – which were set up after the movement was created by Nobel Laureate Henry Dunant in 1863 – should come together as a force for good at all times, and not only during wars. Davison firmly believed the kindness and expertise shown by Red Cross volunteers should benefit humanity in other times as well.
And thus, the League of Red Cross Societies was born, on the 5th of May 1919. There were five founding Red Cross Societies – those of the United States of America, Italy, Japan, France, and the United Kingdom. By the end of that year, the League had 30 members.
The League changed its name to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies – the IFRC – in 1991. We now have 192 member National Societies, with more in formation.
The core of the idea has stayed the same while the scope of the IFRC network has grown massively, in reach and in impact.
In 2020, 14.9 million Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers reached more than 688 million people with disaster and other emergency response work; some 306 million with health activities, and 125 million with clean water and sanitation assistance.
These are impressive figures, but the scale of the humanitarian needs continues to grow every year. Right now, countless people across the world need urgent support.
The conflict in Ukraine and the stress placed on its neighbouring countries is just one example. The lingering physical, social and economic damages inflicted by the global COVID-19 pandemic is another. Alongside these disasters is the ever-present, and worsening, threat of climate change.
With challenges like these, can a simple idea – like the one that led in 1919 to what is now known as the IFRC – still help to heal the world? I believe it can – and will. We know what works, and we’ve been proving it for more than a century.
It’s one human being reaching out to support another human being in crisis, at the community level, where it is always needed the most.
It’s ensuring that local volunteers and local organizations have the resources, training and as much (or as little) international support as they need to respond to disasters and crises. It’s making sure their voices are heard, and their interests represented, on the international stage.
And it is working to bring that support to the most marginalized communities and individuals, no matter where they are, and without any discrimination as to who they are.
It is – put simply – kindness.
I first joined my National Society, the Nepal Red Cross, as a volunteer more than three decades ago. I was trusted – and therefore able to meet and support the people in greatest need – because I was part of their community, I spoke their language, and I understood their concerns. And the key to understanding what people needed was kindness.
Over the years, the IFRC has evolved alongside the communities we support. We have adapted our ways of working, expanded our expertise as different vulnerabilities and stressors emerge, and have been agile enough to pioneer and then mainstream new approaches to humanitarian support.
We have led on the development and widespread acceptance of cash assistance as the most effective and most respectful way to support people in need. After all, people who have lost everything in a disaster or conflict should not have to lose their dignity as well.
And we are driving change in how disaster risks are managed and reduced through anticipatory action, where local communities are supported to reduce their risks, and immediate funding can be triggered once scientifically-measured thresholds are reached.
None of this work would be possible without the kindness of our 14.9 million Red Cross and Red Crescent community-based volunteers.
On World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, 8th May, we will encourage people around the world to believe in the power of kindness and #BeHumanKIND.
The world is still bleeding. It still needs help. But there are nearly 15 million reasons to believe in kindness, and to have hope.
If you'd like to read more about the history of the IFRC, visit our history and archives page.
And check out the hashtag #BeHumanKIND across all social media channels this week to see how our National Societies are celebrating World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day.
Young volunteers step up in Europe
By Ainhoa Larrea, IFRC
They are young, they are almost a million strong, and they are leading the humanitarian response against COVID-19 in Europe.
More than 850,000 young volunteers of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies across Europe are making a difference for millions of people affected by the pandemic, despite being increasingly affected as the Delta variant spreads.
Many are becoming sick and being hospitalised, as the young are often the last to be vaccinated. In addition, they are disproportionately impacted by the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic, from unemployment to mental health problems. However, they are still stepping up to help.
Daria Tkachenko, a university student, is volunteering with Russian Red Cross in her free time. She visits older people who cannot leave their homes, delivering medicines and groceries.
“I remember well one of the women. She was a home front worker during World War II and served as a volunteer at a local branch of Russian Red Cross for years. She is a very active woman who always shines with optimism and joy; even now, when she is bedridden,” Daria said.
“Living in isolation amid the pandemic is a big challenge for many older people, and not only for them, but also for relatives who cannot help their loved ones. That is why volunteering is so important.”
She is also helping replenish low blood stocks. “Hospitals are in need of blood donors and blood components. I am proud that I donated blood, which in the future may save someone's life.”
Ludovica, a 27-year-old psychologist, spent last Christmas on one of the Italian Red Cross boats where those arriving in Italy by sea undergo mandatory isolation and COVID-19 testing. She provided critical mental health support to migrant and refugee children.
“During the time I was on board, there were 51 children mostly from North Africa and the Middle East. I organised educational and recreational activities with them: Italian language, card games, dance.
“I had to carry out most of the activities at a distance, behind a desk. The most valuable moments were those when I was close to the children. I would then play the role of the white wizard, as the safety protocol obliged me to dress in a white jumpsuit, mask, gloves, goggles, cap and boot covers,” Ludovica said.
Scientific evidence shows vaccination saves lives, but some young people are still unsure whether to get a jab or not. The Red Cross Red Crescent European Youth Network is playing its part with a joint social media campaign with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Participants encourage their peers to get immunised, sharing that the main side effect of COVID-19 vaccines is “a feeling of hope and solidarity.”
Other young people are directly involved in vaccination roll-outs. Srna Spasojevic, 15 years old, is one of the youngest volunteers of the Red Cross of Serbia. Every working day, from eight in the morning until 6pm, she updates the lists of those waiting to get immunised in the Novi Sad Fair.
“Sometimes you realise, when you are having a hard time, that there are others who are going through even worse. I am happy to be able to contribute to our country’s battle against the coronavirus,” Srna said.
There are many more young role models among the 54 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Europe, each one helping to protect communities and to stop the COVID-19 pandemic.
By car, plane and boat: Reaching the most remote communities in Guyana
Story and photos by Angela Hill / IFRC
For the field team of the Guyana Red Cross, responding to COVID-19 has meant time away from families, thousands of miles by car, plane and boat, and arranging logistics for tons of cleaning and hygiene supplies destined for people living in remote corners of the country.
“We have a lot of small communities that do not necessarily have internet, they are usually reached by radio or by people travelling into the community themselves to share information,” said Andrea Phillips, Guyana Red Cross COVID-19 project manager and the team lead.
So that is what the Guyana Red Cross does. They work with indigenous communities, in migrant settlements, and at the markets in transportation hubs, sharing information about COVID-19 and how to stay safe and healthy.
Helping people stay safe
[caption id="attachment_72483" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] The Guyana Red Cross team hangs posters about proper mask use and the importance of regular handwashing, in the town of Mabaruma.[/caption]
For some people their interaction with the four women that make up the team will be their only opportunity to ask questions about the disease that they have been hearing about from others.
“We have found that communities are very receptive to people who take the time to come into the community, share the information … give time for them to ask questions to ensure they are clearly able to understand,” Phillips said.
In St. Aslems, in Region 1, Joan Webber asked about how she would know if she or her family had come in contact with the virus.
The team had come to her community by power boat and Webber sat in her small dugout canoe as she learned about symptoms. She then received a bag with hand sanitizer, soap, laundry detergent, bleach, and other supplies she could use to protect herself and her family.
[caption id="attachment_72513" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Joan Webber paddles away from the Red Cross distribution boat and towards home after receiving a hygiene kit and information about staying safe and healthy during COVID-19.[/caption]
“People are pretty thankful for the activity and the fact that Red Cross is coming to the [river-based] communities to assist them,” said Samesta Martin-Forde, a Guyana Red Cross field officer.
“It has gone far, especially in these communities where, you have a lockdown, so they cannot access [sanitation supplies], or you have poor communities where they may not be able to supply themselves,” Phillips said.
Leaving no one behind
Getting to St. Aslems was no easy task. Alana Prescod, who handles logistics, oversaw moving everything from toothpaste to toilet paper from Guyana’s capital Georgetown, to Mabaruma about 250 kilometers away. But there are no roads, the tons of equipment had to be flown on two separate charter flights, before being trucked to the motel room where the team slept and that served as a temporary warehouse.
In the small, hot, and humid room the team worked with their masks on to pack the bags that would be given away.
“I am very happy with the team that we have. It’s a small team, but a hard-working team. Each person has a role on the team and we have been able to complement each other in a way that we’ve been able to deliver the service that’s required by working together,” said Phillips.
[caption id="attachment_72503" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] The Guyana Red Cross team loads hygiene kits on to a boat for delivery to people living along the Aruka River near Mabaruma.[/caption]
The bags were trucked to the docks to be loaded on to the boat that would take the team upriver. Over a two-day period, the team reached 80 families, moving up and down along a river. A community leader and a boat captain guided them in and out of the tight mangroves to people’s homes. The mornings were hot and sunny, but on the trip back to town the first day, it began to pour rain. The drops were hitting like needles as the speedboat raced to get them back and off the water.
When they completed the work, the immediately starting meeting with other leaders in the area, to see what was needed next and by who.
[caption id="attachment_72491" align="aligncenter" width="5753"] Melissa Lewis talks about staying safe and healthy during COVID-19, while the Guyana Red Cross team delivers hygiene kits to communities along the rivers.[/caption]
“I love helping persons, it always puts a smile on my face when you can give something to someone and they appreciate it, whether it is something big or something small and it makes me feel happy and I would say that’s why I am doing what I am today,” Prescod said.
Featured image:The Guyana Red Cross team delivers hygiene kits to communities living on the river near Mabaruma, Guyana.
Volunteers: the cornerstone of the response of the Red Cross in the Americas
In the Americas, Red Cross volunteers have proven to be the cornerstone for responding to communities in the region: carrying out interhospital transfers to COVID-19 patients in Mexico, working to rescue people affected by hurricanes Eta and Iota in Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, and more.
The International Federation has witnessed unprecedented humanity and goodness throughout 2020: Hundreds of thousands of volunteers have signed up to volunteer in their national societies, proving that even in these darkest times, there are incredible stories of hope.
Volunteering in times of COVID-19
In Mexico, more than 6,641 volunteers have worked in the response to the emergency created by COVID-19 in interhospital transfers, patient care, health education campaigns, and more in the 32 states of the country. In the relief area, many of the paramedic volunteers have decided to isolate themselves from their families, to continue helping in the emergency response, and avoid infecting their loved ones.
"I've been living in a rental house for three months with other colleagues," says Diego Arcos, head of the motorized section of the Mexican Red Cross. "I think the most complicated thing for us in caring for COVID patients is that you don't see what you're fighting against, and you don't see the end of it."
“I understand the desperation of being at home, the desperation of being locked up, but what we want is to go home, and we are only going to achieve it if people take care of themselves and follow safety protocols: wearing masks, washing hands, using antibacterial gel. If we all follow the instructions that are being put forth by the health sector, not just in Mexico, but also worldwide, we are sure that sooner we will be able to go outside or go home for us working in the response.”
Volunteers like Diego, during this pandemic, have made a selfless, supportive, and humanitarian effort to combat COVID-19: their work has been fundamental in education and prevention tasks, as well as in treating patients suspicious or positive.
Volunteering in Emergencies: Responses to Hurricanes Eta and Iota
Climate-related disasters have not stopped in times of COVID-19: 28 of the 35 countries in the Americas are classified as medium, high, or very high risk in terms of exposure to climate-related disasters according to the latest World Report from Disasters, and hurricanes Eta and Iota that hit Central America and Colombia in November, are an example of the risk in the region. Volunteers from the Americas have been an example of solidarity action in the response to the emergency caused by hurricanes Eta and Iota.
During the month of November, the tropical phenomena ETA and IOTA made landfall in Nicaragua, and then caused floods, landslides, damage to infrastructure, homes and crops in Central America and Colombia, with great damage especially in Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala.
In Nicaragua, more than 180 people have been volunteers in Operation Eta and Iota, supporting more than 33,000 people in the North Caribbean areas of the country: Prinzapolka, Bilwi, Waspan, Rivas. As part of the response to the hurricanes, the volunteers carried out tasks for the preparation prior to the impacts of Eta and Iota and humanitarian actions after the passage of both storms, such as: psychosocial support, water and sanitation, and hygiene promotion. In this way, the volunteers of the Nicaraguan Red Cross continue to demonstrate the true commitment of humanity in the movement.
“To help others, it is important to stay united, have a positive mind, be persistent and empathetic. We do everything with love and always committed to health for everyone,” explains one of the psychosocial support volunteers from the Nicaraguan Red Cross.
Volunteers in the Americas, and around the world, have witnessed unprecedented humanity and goodness: they are the engine of humanity, perseverance, and solidarity of the Red Cross movement in every corner of the continent.
For more information, visit the Volunteering Development Platform (VODPLA), where an interactiveVolunteering mapof activities and projects displays the humanitarian initiatives, activities and projects carried out by volunteers in the region.
"Volunteering gave me a new life"
A warm smile, calm voice, kind words and a lot of laughter. Raoa'a Abo Alaban, 24, a community volunteer of Jordan Red Crescent is visiting Sadel, 10, in her family’s home. The two are happily chatting about friends, favorite school subjects and future plans. One could not guess that just a few weeks ago Sadel was deeply disconsolate and afraid to even leave the house.
“There’s always been a lot of bullying at school, but this fall it escalated into a violent incident in which Sadel was attacked and badly beaten”, Sadel's mother says.
After the incident Sadel was too terrified to go to school. Her family then contacted Raoa'a, who like them is also from Syria, lives in the same community and is well known for her volunteering with the Red Crescent. Raoa'a started to visit Sadel to provide her with emotional support and encouragement.
“Raoa'a has been calling us, visiting us, inviting Sadel and our whole family to go play with her children. She has really helped Sadel to fight her anxiety and become a more happy, curious and active ten-year-old again”, Sadel’s mother says.
Thanks to all the support and encouragement from her family and Raoa'a, Sadel is bravely continuing her studies with good marks. Together with Sadel's mother, Raoa'a is also trying to raise awareness about anti-bullying at the school and within their community.
Raoa'a started to volunteer with the Jordan Red Crescent Society three years ago. She has received many trainings and new skills from the Red Crescent, for example about community-based health, first aid and psycho-social support.
"Volunteering gave me a new life. Before, I stayed at home a lot, and did not have many people to talk to. Through volunteering, I've met so many new people from my community, both Syrians and Jordanians. I have become more open myself”, Raoa'a says.
A mother of three and a Syrian refugee living in a predominantly Jordanian neighborhood, Raoa'a has become the link between many Syrians and Jordanians in her community, bringing people together.
Raoa'a is very passionate about volunteering, and especially working with children.
“Helping others is something that comes very naturally for me. I’m sure I will continue volunteering in the future, whether it’s here in Jordan or back home in Syria”, she says.
Photo and words by Mirva Helenius / IFRC
From a football fan to a Red Cross first aid trainer
By Mirabelle Enaka Kima, IFRC
Guided by his passion for football, Martin Domwa joined Cameroon Red Cross in 2004 to serve as a first aid volunteer, during football tournaments in his hometown Garoua, in the northern region of Cameroon. Within a short period of time, he became a skilled first aid volunteer and could assist injured players and spectators while watching football.
“In 2008 while serving as a teacher, I joined the Mayo Sava Red Cross branch where I gained a lot of experience in my duties as a first aid team leader, focusing on providing assistance to people that are exposed to situations of violence and armed attacks in the region,” says Domwa.
The Mayo Sava is a division of Cameroon's Far North region, which since 2014, has experienced a series of suicide bombing attacks which claimed many lives and forced hundreds of families to flee further to other regions for safety.
Martin Domwa is one of the 16 first aid trainers of the Cameroon Red Cross to have participated in the first training organized by the institution on Advanced First Aid. The main goal was to adapt the existing skills to situations of blasts, fragmented injuries and mass casualty incidents.
“The training programme has enabled us acquire knowledge on how to provide assistance in cases of specific incidents, on how to instruct colleagues on administering first aid, and most essentially, on how to manage all types of first aid material and equipment especially in low resources settings,” says Domwa.
Today, Martin has trained 32 volunteers in the Mayo Sava area and plans to train an additional 48 volunteers from villages in the Cameroon's Far North region along the border with Nigeria and where communities continue to be exposed to violence from armed groups. “Thanks to the training programme, we gained more confidence in the way we manage our teams and provided first aid care to people injured following suicide bomb attacks, which occurred recently in Amchide (a village along the border with Nigeria in the Far north region in November 2018),” says Domwa.
“We however continue to face challenges in terms of the distances to cover during interventions and the lack of appropriate individual branded jackets for easy identification of volunteer teams during night operations,” adds Domwa.
The International Federation Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and Swedish Red Cross continue to provide funding and technical support for the ongoing operation to address the urgent needs of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), who are affected by the Lake Chad crisis inCameroon’s Far North. The intervention also provides Red Cross teams with skills in psychosocial support and advanced first aid in a bid to strengthen their response capacities.
Walmer and Walter: The Red Cross twins
These two brothers have everything in common. They say that not even the smallest differences, like hairstyles, will help when it comes to identifying them; if you are distracted, you could already be talking to the other without noticing; they can just change places for some reason to create confusion. Even they do not even know who was the first to be born, since, although when they were born their cribs were identified, when the nurses returned them to the cribs they did not know if they were putting them in the correct one.Their story is full of coincidences; they share everything. Someone says that they are not twins but siamese, because they do everything together, they study the same career and they both dedicate their free time to the institution that, according to them, is giving them the opportunity to help those who need it most. They combine their medical studies with the noble vocation of volunteering in the Barinas branch of the Venezuelan Red Cross.Walmer believes that having created bonds of friendship and fellowship with his volunteer friends and the community has allowed him to better understand the most urgent needs of vulnerable people. His biggest dream is to graduate as a doctor and use his knowledge to help people who live in communities with health care needs.Walter smiles as his brother speaks. His joy is because he knows that when they are medical professionals, they will surely also go together to fulfill their nobel mission of saving lives not only as professionals but also as volunteers of the Venezuelan Red Cross.Their family is happy because they know about the social work they do; their parents are happy to know that not only do they learn at university in their medical career, but they also get important knowledge and training with the work they do with the Venezuelan Red Cross. They know that there are days when they will not see them because they even prepare they backpacks with enthusiasm to volunteer to help those who need it the most.Stories like those of Walmer and Walter also motivate their fellow volunteers because they preach by example their commitment to save lives without expecting anything return.
Granny Ana and her favorite volunteers
Granny Ana is one of the most beloved characters in the community of Mirador de la Lagunita. Ana, with 94 years, cannot walk by herself anymore and needs the help of her family and neighbors when they visit her. A few days ago Ana lost balance and fell to the floor causing injuries in her knee, ankle and especially in her eye, which she sadly lost.
Upon hearing the news, Idanic and Marylin, volunteers of the Venezuelan Red Cross came to provide her with pre-hospital care and assistance so that the injuries caused by the fall would not get any worst. Anita, spoiled by everyone, only let these two volunteers, who never fail to give her first aid attention, to heal her.
Idanic Álvarez, who has been part of the Venezuelan Red Cross as a volunteer for more than two decades, says that working in communities and caring for people such as Granny Ana, has allowed her to understand the true meaning of solidarity and love for others.
While Granny Ana observes her, Idanic tells us that it is essential to recognize the needs of others and to see herself reflected in them through her humanitarian work, from which she learns every day.
Marylin Marín, rescuer and volunteer for 16 years, is also perioperative nursing professional. Upon her arrival in the community, she immediately treated the wounds of Granny Ana, which are healing little by little, thanks to their care and recommendations. Marylin says that being part of the recovery of Ana, fills her with joy and she feels that sometimes she would like to do more for her. Thanks to their care and the medicines they offered, she is recovering her health. Between jokes and cares comes the time to say goodbye; Granny Ana does it with a kiss and a blessing to Idanic and Marylin, her favorite volunteers.
"I dream of a healthy and happy community"
At first sight, Maria Elena is a shy, reserved woman who speaks little. She can not hide her smile of happiness when she notices the arrival of Idanic and Marilyn, Venezuelan Red Cross volunteers who are supporting the community in the development of the livelihood project that will allow this community to strengthen its local capacities and be more resilient.María Elena lives in the community of Mirador de la Lagunita, a town located an hour and a half from Caracas. In this small community, this community leader is vital when it comes to organizing her colleagues and neighbors in community work.She takes a deep breath when she remembers that she had to return two years ago from the Dominican Republic to take care of his father who was in poor health. She returned with seven months of pregnancy, now her son is going to be one year old, and she only hopes that her Dominican-born partner will soon be with them in the Mirador de la Lagunita.Between laughs and gestures of gratitude towards the volunteers of the Venezuelan Red Cross, María Elena dreams of a healthy and happy community. Idanic and Marylin, volunteers of the Venezuelan Red Cross, continuously encourage her to keep going. For her part, she keeps reminding them that she wants to do the planned activity with the children, in the next few days, with her favorite volunteers. María Elena is also a teacher in the community school and the promoter of the "Community Pot". She enthusiastically tells us that she has taken on the great challenge of raising her community in the company of the other leaders who, like her, work hand in hand along with the Venezuelan Red Cross.
The joy of learning by helping
For Gladys, her experience with the “Children Affected by Migration” project has been rewarding. She is surprised to see how children express themselves, their handling of information about migration and the effect it has on them both directly and indirectly. There are children who have parents who are in other countries and other children who have the fear that their parents will make the decision to leave; spending time with them has changed her perspective on life, it has been a total change at a personal and professional level.
"Like any project, it has had its advantages and disadvantages," says Gladys, pointing out that working with children is a little tiring, as they are growing and full of energy.
But the biggest difficulty is not working with small children, but their parents, who sometimes don't show enough support to the project, when following up with a treatment in suggested. "We refer children who are going to receive psychological care who are being emotionally affected, so in that case we've had a little rejection from the parents because they go into denial," said Gladys.
Regarding the development of the project, Gladys commented that all the activities that have been carried out have been incredible. These activities are carried out according to a methodological script, showing the competence of all volunteers in their work, both volunteer psychologists and those who are part of the support provided by the municipality.
Gladys began volunteering at the Honduran Red Cross as a student at the University; the Honduran Red Cross was the first organization where she began to develop what she had learned in the career of Psychology. The project "Children Affected by Migration", has been a way to grow professionally, since it allows her to put into practice what she learned, helping her to better understand the work with children.
"It is an incredible experience. To understand the mentality of children, how creative they are; to work with teachers, who are often unfamiliar with the proper way to support a child, and showing them techniques to help them with an emotional problem", says Gladys excited.
After asking her if she would volunteer for the Honduran Red Cross again, she said yes, sharing the anecdote that she was once ill but when she recovered, she returned to the organization without hesitation, making the Honduran Red Cross part of her life.
| Press release
IFRC condemns killing of Mexican Red Cross volunteer
Geneva, 19 November 2018 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) strongly condemns the attack on a Mexican Red Cross relief distribution yesterday (18 November) in Guerrero State that claimed the life of one volunteer and injured six others.
According to the Mexican Red Cross, the distribution was taking pace in the town of San Juan Tenería, in the municipality of Taxco when it came under armed attack.
IFRC President Francesco Rocca said:
“Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims of this incident. This attack on humanitarian personnel is completely unacceptable and we join the Mexican Red Cross in calling for an immediate investigation.
“Above all, we stand in solidarity with our Mexican Red Cross brothers and sisters. We are one global family, and today we all feel their loss deeply.
“National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are neutral and impartial organizations. Their only focus is on serving the most vulnerable. Humanitarian volunteers and staff are not a target.”
| Press release
10,000 Red Cross volunteers take part in Europe’s largest annual volunteer gathering
Solferino, Italy, 24 June 2018 – More than 10,000 Red Cross volunteers representing more than 60 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from around the world have gathered in the northern Italian town of Solferino for an annual tribute to the events that led to the foundation of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
The two-day festivities culminated last night in the Fiaccolata, a torch lit march that retraces the steps of the women of the town of Castiglione delle Stiviere in the aftermath of the bloody Battle of Solferino in 1859. These women provided first aid and care to the many wounded left laying on that battlefield, paying no attention to a soldier’s nationality, and laying the foundations for neutral and impartial humanitarian action.
Swiss businessman Henry Dunant, inspired by the people he met in Solferino and Castiglione, sought to transform the devastation of the battlefield of Solferino into something positive and innovative – a global humanitarian network with the goal of helping those in need during times of conflict, and to change the nature of warfare.
“This is an important weekend for the Red Cross,” said Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). “It is a chance to reflect on our history and our humanitarian principles. But more importantly, it is a chance to pause and look ahead, to consider our world, and to think about the kind of organization we will need to be in the future.”
On Friday and Saturday morning, leaders from 35 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies took part in a session of the Solferino Academy designed to explore future humanitarian challenges and to consider how a global organization like the IFRC will need to respond.
This meeting comes amid rising humanitarian needs around the world, fuelled by conflicts, increasing disasters, and the emergence and spread of new or forgotten diseases. All this is taking place in a world where respect for basic humanitarian norms and for international humanitarian law seems to be on the decline.
“Next year, we will adopt a new Strategy 2030. We don’t know what our world will look like in five or ten years. But we can be confident that some of the challenges we face will be different to those we are currently grappling with,” said Mr Rocca.
“Our goal isn’t only to anticipate what those challenges will be, but rather to make sure that we are the kind of organization that can adapt to new demands, that can be agile in its thinking, and rapid in its response.
“Key to this is the need to invest more in strengthening local capacity.”
| Press release
IFRC President renews call for Syrian Arab Red Crescent access to besieged areas and scale-up of humanitarian relief in Syria
Damascus, 20 December 2017 – Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) volunteers and staff are the lifeline to millions, covering the last and the most difficult mile to reach the most vulnerable. Providing these volunteers with safe, secure, and regular access to communities in need across Syria is a humanitarian imperative, said Mr. Francesco Rocca, newly elected President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), at the end of his official visit to Syria.
The IFRC President visited Syria to meet with SARC volunteers and staff and to hold high-level discussions with government officials on the need for a significant scaling up of humanitarian relief and access of Red Crescent volunteers and staff to besieged and hard-to-reach areas, including Eastern Ghouta where conflict has severely limited civilian access to food and lifesaving health services.
“I am humbled by the bravery and spirit of SARC staff and volunteers. They have shown unparalleled courage and resilience as they bring humanitarian services and relief to millions of people who have endured immeasurable suffering and loss in the course of this seven-year conflict”, said Mr Rocca.
Mr Rocca was welcomed to Damascus by the SARC President, Mr Khaled Hboubati and visited shelters run by staff and volunteers near the capital.
In a series of high-level meetings with senior government officials, Mr Rocca also discussed ways to provide further support to the Red Crescent as demands for its services continue to grow, particularly when the country begins the process of recovery from conflict.
“The situation is critical,” said Mr Rocca. “There are more than 13 million people in Syria who still have urgent humanitarian needs. Each day, thousands of SARC volunteers provide emergency food and health care to communities who have lost everything and help people rebuild their lives with psychosocial support and sustainable livelihood programmes. Their neutrality and impartiality not only save lives, but will be critical as some communities begin the huge and difficult task of rebuilding”, he said.
SARC is the largest provider of humanitarian services in Syria with more than 7,800 active volunteers who work in close partnership with other humanitarian partners present in Syria to distribute relief to more than 5 million people each month.
| Press release
IFRC President “inspired” by visit to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan
Astana, 3 July 2017 – The work of the Red Crescent in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan is building hope and resilience in both countries, Mr Tadateru Konoé, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said today.
The IFRC President visited the Central Asian nations to meet with volunteers and staff of the Red Crescent Society of Uzbekistan and the Kazakh Red Crescent, and to hold high-level discussions with Government leaders on how best to support and promote humanitarian activities in their countries.
“What I have seen in both countries has inspired me, and gives me a great deal of hope,” said Mr Konoé. “Red Crescent volunteers and staff are working very hard to support people in need and to promote dignity and resilience in communities across Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
“Both countries are home to very diverse communities, with diverse challenges and opportunities. But the sense of social cohesion and respect for diversity shone through very clearly, as did the people’s admiration for the Red Crescent.”
In Uzbekistan, Mr Konoé was welcomed to Tashkent and Samarkand by the President of the Red Crescent, Prof. Khamid Yakubovich Karimov, and was given briefings on the organization’s work and its successful membership structure, which has encouraged more than a million people to become supporters and volunteers. This was the first visit by a serving IFRC president since the Red Crescent Society of Uzbekistan was founded in 1925.
In a series of high-level meetings, Uzbekistan’s Deputy Prime Minister, Mrs Tanzila Narbayeva, and other ministers spoke of their understanding of and support for the Red Crescent Society of Uzbekistan’s work as an independent humanitarian auxiliary to the Government, and agreed that this unique role should be strengthened to help build more resilient communities across the country.
During his visit to Kazakhstan, Mr Konoé was welcomed by the Kazakh Red Crescent’s president, Dr. Yerkebek Kambarovich Argymbayev, and met volunteers and staff at the Astana branch. He learned of the Red Crescent’s work in health, blood donation, disaster response and prevention, and social support services, and met several labour migrants who are being supported by the Kazakh Red Crescent and partner organisation Zhariya.
“I was particularly encouraged to meet labour migrants who were so empowered by the help they received that they are now serving as Red Crescent volunteers themselves,” said Mr Konoé.
“One young volunteer told me that she believes everyone wants to do something good in the world. The Red Cross and Red Crescent give this opportunity to everyone, no matter who they are or where they are from, and I can see the positive results in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.”
Mr Konoé and Dr Argymbayev met with Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister, Mr Kayrat Abdrakhmanov, on 3 July. The IFRC President thanked the Minister for his Government’s support to the Kazakh Red Crescent, and asked him to consider exploring an enhanced partnership that would include the adoption of a Red Crescent Law in Kazakhstan, and further backing for the Kazakh Red Crescent’s plan to host the 10th European Regional Conference of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Almaty in May 2018.