Story by Jon Dillon, National Headquarters, Casework and Outreach Associate
Yesterday, the American Red Cross, along with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and our partner National Societies around the globe, celebrated World Red Cross Red Crescent Day. Established on the birthday of Henry Dunant, the founder of the Red Cross Movement, this day celebrates the fundamental principles of the Movement and its humanitarian impact around the globe. Here at the American Red Cross, this included a celebration with food, dance, and story sharing.
Domestically, the American Red Cross provides lifesaving programs that include disaster preparedness and response, and blood services. The tireless work of volunteers and staff ensure that when disaster strikes or when there is an emergency taking place for a military family, the Red Cross is there to help.
Internationally, the American Red Cross works in coordination with the ICRC, the IFCR, and its partner National Societies to provide relief. Matthew Anderson, Roster Officer with the International Response Operations Center, shared the impact of the Red Cross for those affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Deploying 46 disaster specialists and committing over $56 million, the American Red Cross provided support ranging from sheltering activities and recovery planning to technical expertise through mapping and telecommunications technology. Together with the global Red Cross network, we helped provide cash assistance for more than 59,000 families to empower them to make their own decisions for how to rebuild their lives after the typhoon.
Matthew ended by underscoring that “whether you are making maps…distributing items…[or] directing traffic, it is volunteers that are truly the heart and soul of disaster response operations.”
The evening concluded with a speech by Anna Nelson, spokesperson for the ICRC. She highlighted some of the stories published on the IFRC’s tumblr which recount the impact the Red Cross has made on individuals ranging from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to a third generation Red Crosser in Kentucky. She stated that on World Red Cross Red Crescent Day “we are connected geographically, but also through time. We are connected by this day to millions of people across the globe who are also celebrating Henri Dunant’s birthday. We are connected to generations of individuals who believed in the same fundamental principles…who believed in the power of humanity.”
While World Red Cross Red Crescent Day is a special occasion to recognize the important work of this movement, it is also a call to daily support and promote the fundamental principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity, and universality. As a member of the Restoring Family Links team at National Headquarters, I feel honored to be surrounded by passionate and dedicated humanitarians on a daily basis who do just that. From reconnecting refugee family members separated because of conflict to providing migrants the opportunity to call their loved ones to let them know that they are okay, the RFL program brings peace of mind to thousands around the globe. Together with its other lines of service, the American Red Cross and its global partners continuously strive to uphold the mission of Henry Dunant and embody the spirit of World Red Cross Red Crescent Day.