On 8 May Red Cross, the organisation I’m hugely proud to be associated with, celebrates World Red Cross Red Crescent Day. It’s an international celebration to commemorate the birthday of the organisation’s founder Henri Dunant and recognises the fantastic contribution made by Red Cross people around the world.
Henri Dunant was a Swiss businessman and social activist, who founded the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 1863 after witnessing the aftermath of the Battle of Solferino. Dunant outlined a plan for the nations of the world to form relief societies to provide care for the wartime wounded; his plan suggested that each society should call for volunteers, who would be trained to aid the wounded on the battlefield and to care for them as they recover. Henri Dunant’s ideas were later formalised, when twelve nations signed an international treaty which today we know as the Geneva Convention.
Voluntary service has always been at the heart of Red Cross and World Red Cross Day provides an opportunity to promote and recognise the vital role volunteers have played in enabling Red Cross to become the largest humanitarian network in the world.
Our international volunteer network workforce reaches around 30 million people each year during disasters alone and even more through community development initiatives that reach vulnerable people every day. According to a report published last year by the International Federation of Red Cross, each year Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers contribute six billion dollars worth of services worldwide, or around 90 cents for every person on earth. Ain’t that some statistic?
Young people are the future of Red Cross. Today over half of the world’s population is under 25 years of age which means we have the largest ever generation of young people in human history. Youth brings valuable skills, experience, passion and commitment. In particular, they bring a thirst for change, innovation and creativity that contributes energy, culture and a fresh approach to the way Red Cross engages with all communities.
Australian Red Cross (ARC) works with vulnerable people and communities, both in times of emergency, and on an everyday basis. This World Red Cross Day we will celebrating the role that Red Cross plays in communities every single day. From providing around 750,000 breakfasts each year to kids who would otherwise go to school hungry, to checking on the health and wellbeing of socially isolated people through a daily phone call, our Red Cross people continually demonstrate the power of humanity.
An then, of course, there is Red Cross’ work with refugees and asylum seekers which I wrote about a while back and which you can read here and not to mention the other community services and programs ARC runs.
On World Red Cross Day, we honour the ongoing dedication of Red Cross people, by telling their stories, highlighting the vital work they do and acknowledging the contributions they make every day.
Dunant’s legacy endures through our everyday work and his belief in the value of volunteerism lives on through the societies that now exist in nearly 190 countries around the world.
Find out how to become a volunteer or member of Australian Red Cross here redcross.org.au