The One Gift Santa Can't Deliver

By ICRC

The only thing some children want this holiday season is to be reunited with their families.

For nearly 150 years the International Committee of the Red Cross has worked to bring families separated by conflict or natural disaster back together again.

The ICRC hopes the public will share the video to help raise awareness to support the ICRC’s work to help ensure that families can be together during this special time, and all other days of the year, too.

Red Cross's Dedication to Serving Migrants Around the World

By The American Red Cross

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Everyday, individuals around the world lose contact with their loved ones as a result of conflict, disaster, or migration. Along with reconnecting separated family members around the world, Red Cross and Red Crescent Teams have helped migrants in a number of ways from providing aid through medical care and disaster relief to delivering messages of hope.

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As part of the global Red Cross Red Crescent network, the American Red Cross is guided by the seven fundamental principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. This means we provide services to people who need them in times of emergency—regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or citizenship status.

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People looking for loved ones separated by international conflict, disaster, or migration can call our helpline at 844-782-9441 or visit their local Red Cross chapter.

Hope After 20 years of Separation

By The American Red Cross

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It had been 20 years since Fidele* last spoke to his father. He lost contact with him as a teenager after he fled war in his home country of Burundi. Unsure of his father’s fate in the war, Fidele reached out to the Red Cross chapter in southern Arizona in hopes that someone could help him find his father. Using the information provided by Fidele, Elissa Maish, a dedicated Red Crosser, worked diligently with the RFL team and global Red Cross and Red Crescent societies to help find his father. 

“Having listened to all the wars he had been through, I held out little hope that we would actually be able to find his father,” Maish remembered. “Amazingly, six months later, I received a phone call and I heard a gentleman on the other end of the line saying, 'Fidele, my son, my son!'" 

Eight years has passed since Fidele was able to hear his father’s voice for the first time. For Fidele, being able to call and speak to his father brought happiness and gave him the closure he desperately needed.

Since 2010, Maish and Fidele have teamed together to achieve the Red Cross’s Restoring Family Links (RFL) mission: helping families trace and reconnect with loved ones separated by international conflict, disaster or migration. 

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*Name has been changed to protect privacy.

Red Cross restores family bonds in Puerto Rico

By IFRC

Hurricane Maria left millions of people without electricity, resulting in limited connectivity throughout Puerto Rico. Consequently, large swathes of people had no means of letting their family members know that they were alright or if they needed help.

As part of disaster response, the American Red Cross has been working to reunite families thanks to a portable satellite dish known as VSAT. This satellite program offers free WiFi so users can connect with their families by accessing social media. The satellite is part of the family reunification program known as Safe & Well which finds creative ways to reunite families after a disaster.

After Hurricane Maria hit, Fátima Haram, 66, and her husband Abdelrahman Salem, 72, were left without any means to communicate with the outside world. Both of Arabic nationality, they have been living in Puerto Rico for five years, and this was the first time they had lost communication with their loved ones.

Tears of joy spilled over when Fátima managed to communicate with her daughter, who lives in Europe. She connected to her using the free internet signal set up in La Revolución Plaza, Lares by the Safe & Well program of the American Red Cross.

Between hugs and tears, Fátima and Abdelrahman thanked the Red Cross for helping them establish long-distance communication and for the free internet service.

Red Crosser delivers in Puerto Rico: “I wasn’t gonna let her down”

By National Capital Region, American Red Cross

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“I was in Patron, Morovis, Puerto Rico and this little old lady comes up to me and starts patting me on the chest and talking in Spanish,” remembers John Hendricks, a Red Cross volunteer from Detroit, Michigan serving in Puerto Rico for the Hurricane Maria relief effort. His voice is raspy from camping out in the mountains with his Red Cross team delivering water filters to the most remote communities, house by house. “I said to her, ‘I’m a gringo, I don’t speak Spanish,’ but I got one of my teammates to translate for me.” John’s eyes get misty. His translator said, “She is patting your chest because she saw you in the mountains and she loves your heart.”
 

John was touched by Rosa Maldonado Ortiz’s gesture and, with translation assistance, learned more about her situation. At 87 years old, she lost part of her house during the hurricane. Three of her grandchildren live upstairs in her home. Like most homes on the highlands of Puerto Rico, there is no running water and families collect water from mountain springs. Mrs. Ortiz happily accepted a high-volume Sawyer water filter, one of 13,000 (and counting!) units Red Cross volunteers have placed into the hands of the most isolated Puerto Ricans. The training she received on its use will help her keep her family safe from bacteria, viruses and toxins. However, she desperately needed tarps to keep out the seasonal downpours, she told John. He promised to return.

When John went to the closest Red Cross warehouse, all the tarps had been distributed and the next shipment had not yet arrived. “I wasn’t gonna let her down, so I went to Home Depot and bought her tarps,” John says in his matter-of-fact, Middle America style. “When I took her the tarps, she told me she needed a cat.” Mrs. Ortiz was worried about the increasing number of rats, mice and the diseases they might transmit to her grandchildren. 

As it so happens, an abandoned kitten was rescued on a relief distribution in Juana Diaz during a thunderstorm. “We couldn’t leave the kitten there in a downpour, so we took it to a veterinarian,” said Leo Taraborrelli. “The vet estimated it was born about the time that Hurricane Irma came through.” When John told Leo about Mrs. Ortiz, he gladly offered up the rescued kitten to the cause. After all, as Red Cross volunteers, they have been working 15-hour days and are mostly away from their shelter. This way, the kitten would be in a home with children to love him.

Later that night, John and Leo made a special trip back to Patron, Morovis to Mrs. Ortiz’s home with the cat. “I’m so happy, thank you!” said Mrs. Ortiz. Red Cross responders, like John and Leo, continue their emergency relief efforts in Puerto Rico with a strong sense of urgency due to sustained damage to critical infrastructure like water and electricity. Red Cross teams continue distributing water filters in rural areas as a longer-term solution to the lack of access to clean water.