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Aug 20, 2013

Belize Red Cross Celebrate a milestone

Ninety seven million volunteers worldwide belong to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The Red Cross was founded to protect human life and health, and to prevent and ease human suffering. Different incarnations of the movement has been in existence for over close to a hundred years, but the

 

Belize Red Cross is celebrating a milestone. Since its establishment in Belize in 1914, the Red Cross, an international medical care organization, dedicated to the remedial treatment of the sick or wounded in both World Wars and natural disasters, has been a staple in Belizean history.  On Sunday, the movement celebrated thirty years of recognition as part of civil society.  Executive Director Lily Bowman recounts the origin of the Belize Red Cross.

 

Lily Bowman, Executive Director, Belize Red Cross

“The Belize Red Cross completed thirty years of giving service to the people of Belize.  The movement in Belize stems all the way back from 1914 and we do have one picture that is evidence of the presence of some ladies in Benque Viejo del Carmen.  These are the ladies that used to knit warm clothes and send them to their husbands at war during World War One in Britain.  Since then, we became a charitable organization and then in the 1950s we became a branch of the British Red Cross.  We were still in our colonial years; however, when independence came to Belize in 1981, we started to take steps to become our own national society as the Belize Red Cross.  So, in 1983, on the eighteenth of August, the government recognized us and through an act of incorporation we became the Belize Red Cross in our own right as a national society.”

 

Throughout the years, the organization has been instrumental in looking after the wellbeing of the communities it serves.  The Belize Red Cross has also been the driving force behind the formation of the Belize Council for the Visually Impaired, as well as the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), to name a few.

 

Lily Bowman

Lily Bowman

“We have worked with children with disabilities.  As a matter of fact, the BCVI, the Belize Council for the Visually Impaired was borne out of the Red Cross.  We hosted the first disaster regional meeting here in Belize.  Shortly after that we formed our own disaster management committee and advocated between, 1999 to 2000, the Red Cross advocated for the formation of NEMO.  So, since then we have been very, very involved in capacity building our communities.  We have been focusing on, of course, not only relief during disasters but in training and educating people about how they can prevent certain diseases for instance or, in the case of disasters, mitigate their risks to hazards which can potentially become disasters afterwards.  We have been working with over fifty-nine communities to date.  We just finished fourteen more, we graduated the community members that were trained last week and we’re proud to say that we have been seeing the resilience within our communities in respect to responding, being the first responders to disasters within their own localities.”

 

The Belize Red Cross was formally recognized by the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1984, when it was inducted into the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Geneva, Switzerland. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

 

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