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May 8, 2017

The Red Cross: “Everywhere for Everyone”

The Red Cross Movement is the world’s largest humanitarian organization; it is also among the first responders in times of emergency and disasters.  It has been active for more than a century in Belize and currently has eight branches; two in the Belize and Cayo districts and one in every other district. Today, on the occasion of World Red Cross Day, News Five’s Duane Moody looks at other services the Red Cross has to offer.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Across the globe today, the over one hundred and eighty-eight national societies celebrated World Red Cross Day. Annually, May eighth, which is the birthday of its founder, Henry Dunant, is set aside to highlight the wide range of services provided by the organization. The Belize chapter of the Red Cross has been growing leaps and bounds since it was first recognized as a national society back in 1983. According to Executive Director Lily Bowman, the work of the humanitarian organization is no longer limited primarily to disaster relief response.

 

Lily Bowman

Lily Bowman, Executive Director, Belize Red Cross

“The needs of the vulnerable people keep changing every day. Every day there are emerging challenges that they have to face and as a Red Cross movement whose goal is to alleviate suffering wherever it is found. We have to change and move and redesign our programs and services according to the needs of the people and to remain relevant in our community. Right now, we don’t only respond to disasters, we don’t only prepare for disasters; we are now building resilient, safer, stronger communities.”

 

The Red Cross is currently wrapping up a five-year program, the Resilience In The Americas Project, which focuses on eight communities within the Corozal and Orange Walk Districts. The program looks at social and economic issues for vulnerable populations as well as improving general living conditions while providing them with skills in small business management, advocacy, financial literacy, first aid and disaster risk. While this project was funded by a sister society, many of the local projects are carried out by members of its volunteerism program.

 

Lily Bowman

“What we normally do is build partnerships. For instance we’ve partnered with Alba Petrocaribe who has helped us to build not only ten latrines, but seventeen more. And so we reach a little further and we benefit a little more people. We’ve partnered with the Public Health Department, who helps us to identify locations; we partner with the village council…they were one of our biggest partners. The minute you leave this office or leave our office, yo need money, so funding is very vital. But with our base of volunteers we try to ease the need for funding because our volunteers are well trained and we continuously train them. we just recently finished training a bunch to be national intervention teams to be ready for the disaster season coming up.”

 

For the past ten years, the Belize Red Cross has been training volunteers to conduct capacity development of communities in preparation of eventualities. Focal Point, Fred Hunter says that awareness is key.

 

Fred Hunter

Fred Hunter, Focal Point, Disaster Risk Reduction, Belize Red Cross

“Over the last few years, we are not just focusing on disaster alone, but on strengthening the community itself that way they can deal with any kind of risk and plan ahead. We have community support groups as well as community disaster response teams. The response teams are trained in first aid and how to respond to a specific incident or event. Whereas the community support group is volunteers from the community that want to help develop their community and they have been trained in a number of disciplines including organizational development, advocacy, how to make their needs known to write people to assist them. How to make their own community more aware of what risks they face, what strengths they have to develop and to communicate with each other.”

 

This year’s theme for World Red Cross Day is, “Everywhere for Everyone.” Duane Moody for News Five.

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