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World Red Cross Day: Saving lives, alleviating suffering

During this battle of Solferino, Allied Franco-Sardinian troops, led by Emperor Napoleon III, faced Austrian soldiers at around 3am on the 24th. By six o’clock, the battle was in full swing. Bright sunshine bore down on the 300 000 soldiers, who shot, trampled, bayoneted and slit the throats of their enemies. After 15 hours of slaughter and bloodshed, around 6 000 men were dead and more than 35 000 were wounded or missing.

The medical services of the French and Sardinian armies were overwhelmed. Transportation for the wounded was practically non-existent while food and water were scarce. In the church of Castiglione, the Chiessa Maggiore, a young Swiss man named Henry Dunant — was in the area for business and did his best to care for the wounded and dying, helped by local women volunteers. They treated the men equally, regardless of what side they had fought on, inspiring the women to coin the phrase “tutti fratelli” (all brothers). That impartial, neutral and voluntary intervention continues to guide Red Cross operations to this day.

World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day is thus a celebration of the great humanitarian work that the movement is doing the world over. It also serves as a wakeup call to all inhabitants of the world to play a part in alleviating human suffering as espoused by the Red Cross ideals. This special day is also known as Volunteers Day in recognition of the great work being done by Red Cross volunteers the world over.

The Red Cross movement: the three arms of the movement and mandate of the Red Cross

The Red Cross is a global, dynamic voluntary organisation with presence in 187 countries. It has got a clear mandate to save lives and alleviate human suffering wherever it is found and however it is caused. This unique humanitarian player is synonymous with impartial humanitarian, neutral and independent interventions. The three arms of the Red Cross movement incorporate the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies which include Zimbabwe Red Cross Society. These three equally important arms of the movement play a key role in promoting the global Red Cross Movement vision and mission.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is an impartial, neutral and independent organisation whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of war and internal violence and to provide them with assistance. It directs and coordinates the international relief activities conducted by the movement in situations of conflict. It also endeavours to prevent suffering, promoting and strengthening humanitarian law and humanitarian principles.

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) works on the basis of the principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement to inspire, facilitate and promote all humanitarian activities carried out by its member National Societies to improve the situation of the most vulnerable people. It directs and coordinates international assistance of the movement to victims of natural and technological disasters, to refugees and in health emergencies. The IFRC acts as the official representative of its member societies in the international field and promotes cooperation between them and at the same time working to strengthen their capacity to carry out effective disaster preparedness, health and social programmes.

The National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies like Zimbabwe Red Cross Society embody the work and principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent movement in 187 countries. National societies act as auxiliaries to the public authorities of their own countries in the humanitarian field and provide a range of services including disaster relief, health and social programmes. During war time, national societies assist the affected civilian population and support the army medical services where appropriate.

Zimbabwe Red Cross Society’s humanitarian programmes
The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society is a volunteer-driven organisation which is there to provide a ready answer to the needs of the most vulnerable groups.

The National Society plays an auxiliary role in complementing government efforts to mitigate human suffering. As part of the global movement family; the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society has meaningfully contributed to the welfare of the vulnerable groups in vulnerable communities. Disadvantaged groups in Zimbabwe have in one way or another benefited from the organisation’s nationwide humanitarian programmes. The World Red Cross Day celebrations that the organisation marked this month of May serves as a time of reinvigoration and rededication for all those who subscribe to the global clarion humanitarian call. 

In pursuit of its vision to satisfy humanitarian needs and promoting human dignity of the most vulnerable groups; the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society is currently implementing and integrated humanitarian programmes which provides a holistic approach to the diverse needs of the most disadvantaged. This well managed programme covers disaster management and preparedness, health and care, food security and livelihoods, water and sanitation, restoration of family links as well as first aid and nurse aid training services. These current programmes of the National Red Cross Society are being supported by the Norwegian Red Cross, Finnish Red Cross, British Red Cross, Japanese government, American Red Cross, Netherlands Red Cross, World Food Programmes (WFP) and the European Union (EU).

The programmes have also brought hope and self sustenance to many disadvantaged communities in Zimbabwe. However, fact remains that at any given time, obtaining humanitarian challenges always outweigh available resources. The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society therefore calls on Corporates, individuals, government and other humanitarian players to support its work.

Other than the purely programme-related costs, there are other operational costs that call for key stakeholders to assist the national society.

Volunteers for humanity: the brothers’ keeper

The Red Cross movement subscribes to the “We are our brothers´ keeper” ideal and everyone must volunteer their time, skill and resources towards a better life for the vulnerable of this world. Volunteers are indeed the driving force behind the great humanitarian work that is consistent with the Red Cross Movement. A volunteer is an individual who voluntarily offers his or her services without expecting any financial or material gains.  Their contribution as pushed by an intrinsic humanitarian motivation enables the society to deliver assistance to the most vulnerable groups effectively and efficiently. 

As enshrined in the voluntary ideals that guide the movement, all Zimbabweans are encouraged to voluntarily support Zimbabwe Red Cross´s programmes which have over the years helped make a difference in the lives of the orphans and vulnerable children, the elderly, the disabled, the disadvantaged communities, the chronically ill and the widowed who make up its beneficiary list both in peace and in disaster times.

Unique about the Red Cross movement’s programmes is the allegiance to the seven Red Cross Fundamental Principles of Humanity, Impartiality, Universality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service and Unity. These principles have set the organisation apart as a purely humanitarian Movement that cuts across the political, social and economic divide. The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society through its strong volunteer base has continued to play its part in contributing to the overall mission of the global Red Cross movement. Every Zimbabwean can be a Red Cross volunteer as long as they subscribe to the SAID 7 fundamental principles of the movement.

The earlier mentioned volunteer humanitarian motivation must, of course, not be unique to a certain section of the Zimbabwean or world population but must be common to all. The volunteers through their selfless humanitarian motivation express quite forcefully this “Power of Humanity” as embodied in the Red Cross and Red Crescent:
    by the drive of their commitment , the time they give help , they illustrate the Red Cross Movement’s will to rely first on its own resources in order to take action;
    through their free choice in serving and adhering to the Movement’s founding mission, they ensure independence of action in favour of the victims of conflict or disaster , and those who are more vulnerable in their different communities around the world;
    Present in all countries of the world, coming from different cultures and responding to various changing needs, they demonstrate the universality of humanitarian concern.

2012 Zimbabwe Red Cross business breakfast meeting: Engaging key stakeholders

To further entrench its role as a leading humanitarian player and in tune with its nationwide programmes and endeavors, the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society will hold a business breakfast meeting in early July 2012 at a venue to be advised. This business breakfast meeting will allow the organisation to engage key stakeholders at the same time enlightening them on what roles they can play in support of the its humanitarian programmes.

The business breakfast meeting will be a high level networking platform that will afford corporates, key government ministries, embassies, individuals and other humanitarian players an opportunity to know more about the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society.  The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society will be moderating this meeting and stakeholders that would want to partner the organisation by branding the event or contributing towards its success materially or financially can contact the organisation’s marketing and public relations department.

Some brief slides on the national society´s programmes will be showcased prior to the key note address and engagement with stakeholders through discussions. The programme will have a slot for those who want to partner the organisation in its humanitarian work to donate or make pledges. The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society´s doors remain open to all those who feel they can contribute to this global humanitarian cause by partnering ZRCS in its programmes.

•    Be a volunteer
•    Make a donation
•    Be a member
•    Become a corporate partner
For any information on the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society’s humanitarian work in Zimbabwe, donations, membership  and volunteering call in at our National Headquarters, No 10 St Annes Road Avondale, Harare Email: zrcs@ecoweb.cozw Phone: 04-307241-4/332197/332638
Website: www.redcrosszim.org.zw
Takemore Mazuruse  is the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society marketing and public relations officer

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