International Youth Day 2020: Youth Engagement for Global Action

By Olivia Wyles, American Red Cross volunteer

August 12, 2020- Many deserve recognition right now for contributions they are making in their communities amidst current daily unpredictabilities. But on Aug. 12, we recognize all youth change makers, near and far. International Youth Day has been recognized by the United Nations since 1999, and this year’s theme is Youth Engagement for Global Action. Thanks to continuous advancements in technology, having a global voice for action is more possible than ever, and young people everywhere are taking advantage of it.

From volunteering their time with local organizations in high school and college, to attending rallies for causes they believe in, to using their social media accounts as a platform to spread messages about global issues,  young people today have a great desire to create social change both locally and globally. One issue that local youths have taken on in the past is called the “Measles Initiative” at Gilmour Academy in Gates Mills, Ohio.

“The Measles Initiative” at this school was inspired by the American Red Cross Measles and Rubella Initiative, which is able to use a $2 donation to save the life of a child by providing vaccinations all around the world. By 2017, the young group at Gilmour Academy had already raised $30,000 to provide thousands of children with vaccinations that would allow them to grow up to one day make their own marks on the world.

Measles & Rubella Immunization Campaign Kenya 2018

September 27, 2018. Nairobi, Kenya. Prince Osinachi receives a measles-rubella vaccine in Nairobi, Kenya. The Red Cross has educated me and my neighbors about the importance of our children receiving vaccinations. My son was 4 months late receiving one of his measles doses, so I was afraid of taking him to the health center but the volunteer convinced me to go, says Prince’s mother, Lydia Odinga. Lydia received a visit from Red Cross volunteer, Felista Njenga, who helps ensure kids in the dense urban community receive lifesaving vaccines such as those for measles and rubella. I volunteer because, as a mother, my desire is to have a healthier community free of diseases, says Felista. Local Red Cross volunteers go door-to-door to identify children who are missing routine immunizations, update vaccination records at local health centers, encourage parents and caregivers to have their children vaccinated, and follow up with families to confirm receipt of the recommended vaccinations. Each year in Kenya, more than 350,000 children miss their scheduled routine vaccinations leaving them vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and rubella. The American Red Cross and the Kenya Red Cross have been working together to strengthen community-level routine immunization systems in both rural and urban counties. Measles is one of the most contagious and severe childhood diseases. Every day, it takes the lives of hundreds of children around the world. Even if a child survives, measles can cause permanent disabilities, such as blindness or brain damage. But there is hope. Since 2001, the American Red Cross and our partners in the Measles & Rubella Initiative have vaccinated more than 2 billion children around the globe. The Red Cross plays a pivotal role in vaccination campaigns worldwide: local volunteers use mass media, rallies, door-to-door visits and educational entertainment to reach families who do not have access to routine health services.

Measles is one of the most contagious childhood diseases in the world. Measles was eliminated from the United States in 2000. However, it continues to kill hundreds of thousands worldwide per year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Accessibility to vaccinations is crucial, since even if a child survives after having the disease, they will most likely have permanent disabilities such as brain damage, hearing loss, deafness and more. Over 20.3 million lives have been saved thanks to measles vaccinations, and efforts like the “Measles Initiative” from Gilmour Academy students keep that number rising. The overwhelming majority of cases occur in children, and the students at Gilmour Academy have made a great impact as young change makers protecting their future fellow change makers from this deadly disease.

Mexico Earthquake Resiliency Program 2020

Worldwide cases of measles have decreased significantly over the years thanks to lifesaving and cost-effective vaccinations. If you’re interested in celebrating International Youth Day 2020 by donating to the Measles and Rubella Initiative to provide vaccinations to children around the world, click here for more information.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Red Cross supports global partners to battle coronavirus pandemic

By Eilene Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

June 22, 2020- As the COVID-19 pandemic continues across the globe, the American Red Cross is actively supporting its sister organizations that are working to prevent and respond to the health disaster.

The Red Cross has donated $720,000 to bolster virus-related activities of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies around the globe.

Red Cross COVID-19 Response in the Bahamas 2020

Trumbull County native Jenelle Eli is part of the International Services division at Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“I want everyone to understand that not only is the American Red Cross actively responding to needs here in the U.S., but we’re also working with long-term partners around the world to ease the burden of this outbreak,” Jenelle said.

Jenelle often travels abroad to monitor the impact of Red Cross humanitarian activities. Currently, those trips are on hold.

Red Cross COVID-19 Response in the Bahamas 2020

But if she were in Haiti, for instance, she would see local Red Cross volunteers distributing masks, gloves and sanitizer—partially funded by the American Red Cross—along with accurate information about keeping safe from the disease.

In Colombia, she would see a widespread hand washing campaign and antibacterial gel dispensers at community gathering points. She would also see basic health services being provided to refugees from neighboring Venezuela.

On the other side of the world, in the giant refugee camp at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, she would witness 3,400 Red Cross volunteers teaching their fellow residents how to spot the symptoms of COVID-19 in order to reduce the spread of infection. Meanwhile, refugees who have begun a cottage industry of sewing are being paid to make vitally needed masks.

In nearby Myanmar, Red Cross support is funding a massive hygiene education effort with posters and stickers, as well as temperature screening checkpoints and services at community quarantine facilities.

Red Cross COVID-19 Response in the Bahamas 2020

Back on our side of the world, in the Bahamas, Red Cross support is making it possible for the Bahamian Red Cross to deliver food and clean drinking water to residents who are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus.

“These are just a few of the activities that Red Cross and Red Crescent societies have identified as local needs. We’re making it possible for teams to increase their lifesaving efforts all around the globe,” said Jenelle, who also spoke of American Red Cross team members’ efforts in Indonesia , Mexico, Panama and El Salvador.

Read more about these international activities here.

Red Cross COVID-19 Response in the Bahamas 2020

“Americans can be proud to be supporting these humanitarian efforts through the extraordinary reach of the Red Cross and Red Crescent network,” Jenelle said.

Jenelle isn’t the only northern Ohioan involved in this outreach. Every supporter of the Red Cross makes these efforts possible. To support the international team, make a donation by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-REDCROSS or texting Red Cross to 90999.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Take a step on World Refugee Day

By Olivia Wyles, American Red Cross volunteer

June 20, 2020- Refugees come from all around the world, each with an incredibly complex story and unimaginable struggles that have brought them to the areas where they have resettled. According to the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, 500 to 700 refugees arrive in Cleveland every year. They arrive with hope, seeking an opportunity for a new, safer life.

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You may be wondering, “Is there anything that I can do to help?”

The biggest difference you can make is by standing in solidarity with refugees. Learn the stories of those displaced, and if you know someone who has been displaced, reach out to them to ask how they are doing. Every step—big and small—counts. On this World Refugee Day, we challenge you to take a step-in solidarity with the refugees of our communities.

 

Another thing you can do is to assist refugee service organizations throughout northern Ohio by dropping off supplies they are collecting or making a donation to a center. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer who works directly with refugees, there is an abundance of opportunities to serve as a youth mentor, adult/family mentor, an English tutor, or to assist in moving individuals into new apartments or houses. If you have a business background, you could educate on financial literacy or serve as a business development consultant or mentor to help men and women trying to start a new business. The opportunities are endless.

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One initiative run by the American Red Cross to help refugees is Restoring Family Links.

“The American Red Cross helps to reconnect families separated by war, disaster, migration and other humanitarian emergencies,” said Jessica Tischler, regional International Services program director for Northern Ohio.

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Requests can be made directly to the Red Cross to try and locate family members who they were in contact with before an emergency situation occurred. If you would like to initiate an international search for a family member, you can contact the Northern Ohio Region Director for International Services at 216-496-2998 or the helpline at 844-782-9441.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

 

Hyland workers join humanitarian effort by mapping remote African community

Employees work with the local Red Cross on the Missing Maps project

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

July 15, 2019 – Many of us take maps for granted. Nearly every corner of the United States can be found on a map.

Not so for many of the world’s most remote communities. And that can be a big problem when disaster strikes, or a large-scale epidemic or pandemic breaks out. Imagine the difficulty of reaching people affected by a natural disaster or illness when the one paved road leading to their village has been destroyed and no alternate, unpaved roads are shown on any maps.

The Missing Maps project is an effort being undertaken by the American Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and many other non-governmental organizations to map the world’s most remote communities. With the help of mapping volunteers, more than 40 million vulnerable people have been put on a map. The hope is to raise that number to 200 million people by the year 2021.

The project got a boost recently from employees at Hyland in Westlake, Ohio. About two dozen workers gathered in a room in the basement of their sprawling campus on a Friday afternoon in July to help map a remote area of Kenya.

Hyland workers mapping a remote area of Kenya

“This activity has real humanitarian value,” said Carolyn Wild, the Red Cross regional philanthropy officer who led the session. “I think the Hyland workers recognize that and totally immersed themselves into the project.”

Other Red Cross staff members assisted in facilitating the project as well, including regional philanthropy officer Jill Patterson, development specialist Staci Thomson, and lead grants specialist Ben Bisbee.

“The Hyland folks are really pumped for the next event,” said Ben. “Some even whispered about wanting to take a team visit to the African community they were mapping for.”

Red Cross workers help facilitate Mapathon at Hyland on July 12, 2019.  From top left:
Staci Thomson, Ben Bisbee, Jill Patterson, Carolyn Wild

“We are excited about helping the people of this remote area in Kenya by mapping their village,” said Tracy Petrakis, community engagement manager at Hyland. “The Mapathon was an important part of Hyland’s Summer of Service, and we’re happy to partner with the Red Cross.”

In all, nearly 3,700 buildings in Bomet County, Kenya, were mapped by the Hyland employees.  See more photos from the Hyland Mapathon here.

If you are interested in hosting a mapping session with your company or group, send the request to contactneo@redcross.org.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross Volunteer

Recognizing global humanitarian efforts on World Red Cross Day

By Ifat Gazia, American Red Cross volunteer

Did you know the World Red Cross has 11.7 million volunteers? These volunteers help Indonesia Earthquake 2018millions of people experiencing crises and disasters around  the globe. The American Red Cross is part of the world’s largest volunteer network, extending across 187 countries.

Part of this dynamic volunteer network are the Red Cross Red Crescent teams that provide relief and hope in nearly every corner of the globe. On May 8 every year, we celebrate World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day to appreciate these dedicated organizations and the powerful changes they bring to the communities they serve.

They respond to not only earthquakes, conflict and war emergencies, droughts, floods, hurricanes or health epidemics, but they provide necessary guidance, help and training to the communities, preparing them for the future. All the work done by the staff and volunteers of Red Cross and Red Crescent is done without discrimination. Their work is not just to ensure children receive necessary vaccinations but also to elevate communities from problems that arise due to conditions of prolonged poverty.

Bangladesh Trip 2018With a strong principle of promoting International Humanitarian Law, the national societies that work under the umbrella of the global Red Cross assist some 284 million people every year. The tasks they carry out depend upon the rules and regulations of that particular country. Therefore, their work is driven by local needs.  For example, the American Red Cross provides nearly half of the nation’s blood supply. The Palestine Red Crescent Society and Mexican Red Cross operate hospitals and ambulances. The Norwegian and Italian Red Cross conduct search and rescue operations. The Kenyan, Russian and Vietnam Red Cross provide care and support to people living with HIV/AIDS.

Beyond providing relief and rehabilitation, they even help reconnect families separated by disasters and conflict with the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

To harness the power of emotion felt toward this humanitarian movement, we are asking: What do you #love about Red Cross and Red Crescent?  To help celebrate and continue the important work of World Red Cross organizations like the Red Cross and Red Crescent, contribute in whichever manner you can. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the American Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. Everything the organization does is to help meet the needs of the people that it serves. To donate, click here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

World Humanitarian Day Draws Attention to #NotATarget Movement

By Ifat Gazia, American Red Cross volunteer

The list of civilian killings around the world continues to grow. At least 51 people were killed last week in Yemen when an  airstrike claimed lives of 40 school children and 11 other people. In Syria, 500,000 civilians have been killed in the last seven years and the Syrian Red Crescent has lost more than 60 of its team members to violence since the crisis began. More than 14,000 civilians lost their lives in the ongoing Kashmir conflict.

This is World Humanitarian Day,  meant to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service and to rally support for people impacted by crises around the world. The #NotATarget movement asks world leaders to do everything in their power to protect all civilians caught in conflict zones worldwide.

Although civilians are protected under International Humanitarian Law, every year, thousands of innocent people – children, young, old, men, women, physically challenged, migrants, refugees, aid workers, doctors, journalists and others who work or live in conflict zones lose their lives to the violence.

On this World Humanitarian Day, let’s take a moment and commemorate the daily struggles of these civilians who live or work in war torn areas. Armed conflict affects lives in many ways and leaves long term effects on the victims of war, especially children.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) protects the lives and dignity of victims of war, and provides them with aid.  Therefore, on this Humanitarian Day let’s campaign together and make sure that civilians are #NotATarget for political instabilities and armed conflicts. Let’s ensure organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross—and the local Red Cross and Red Crescent societies that work alongside them—are freely allowed to operate with their aid operations in conflict-ridden areas, and that rules of war are followed, especially not to bomb hospitals and schools, kill innocent children and hamper or stop aid operations.

 

Effort to Eradicate Measles Worldwide Continues

By Brad Galvan, American Red Cross volunteer

Although August is National Immunization Awareness Month, the American Red Cross’s work crosses international borders with its Measles & Rubella Initiative, the Red Cross partners with global organizations on this vaccination campaign aimed at reducing measles worldwide.

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Measles, one of the most contagious and severe childhood diseases is very dangerous to those who are not immunized. The disease can be debilitating and even deadly. The only true method to prevent the disease is to protect children with the measles and rubella vaccine.

Jessica Tischler, Director of International Services for the Northeast Ohio Region of the Red Cross, said the goal of the Measles & Rubella Initiative is simple: Get children vaccinated to prevent the onset of measles. “It’s worked,” Jessica said. “With the help of partners like the United Nations Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control, UNICEF and the World Health Organization, more than two billion children have benefited by the vaccine.”  She noted that there has been a nearly 80 percent reduction in cases resulting in more than 20 million deaths potentially prevented from the disease.measles3

Locally, students at Gilmour Academy in Gates Mills have been collecting money to fund the measles vaccine, which costs $2 per shot. Since the start of their fundraising effort in 2004, the Gilmour students have raised more than $30,000.  We posted this article about the efforts of the students last year.

All Northeast Ohioans can help protect children in remote villages across the world without leaving their state. Simply text PREVENT to 90999 to give $10 to the Red Cross, donate online, or call 1-800-RED CROSS.  Your gift will help children receive the lifesaving vaccine against measles

 

 

International Youth Day

By Ifat Gazia, American Red Cross volunteerifat

Over the years, since 1999, a lot has been said about the importance of International Youth Day. Every year, with a different premise, social issues and challenges are brought into the forefront, so that the roles of young men and young women are celebrated as equal partners in change and making the world a better place. But alongside the celebrations is an important reminder to raise awareness about the difficulties and challenges faced by the youth in current times.

This year’s theme is very critical and central to the contemporary debates of world peace and safety. This year International Youth Day is centered on creating safe spaces for youth worldwide.  Some of those spaces can be social, civic or even digital. But can safe spaces be really created everywhere in the world where a large portion of the population is facing war, exile and migration?

The International Committee of the Red Cross is a driving force behind international humanitarian law, a set of rules that seek to limit the effects of armed conflict by offering protection to civilians. It also sets parameters to activities that are accepted or not accepted on the battleground and beyond.

Furthermore, the organization, of which the American Red Cross is a global partner, supports the study of international humanitarian law at the secondary and university levels across the globe by providing training, internships and online resources to people who work on the ground, such as journalists, aid workers, doctors, policy makers, humanitarian practitioners or researchers.

Bringing youth together, harnessing their talent and making them speak about their fears and experiences when no one is judging them can be difficult from a practical point of view. Spaces where they can talk openly without the fear of persecution, prison and punishment are hard to create and difficult to sustain. But  as long as there are organizations like the American Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross, these initiatives look very much achievable.

If Ever There Was a Time, It Is Now

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross Board Member and Community Volunteer Leader

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A Kenya Red Cross volunteer leads the way through flood waters after torrential rains this year.
More than 210,000 people have so far been forced to flee their homes. Red Cross teams are
providing emergency relief, including health services and shelter, even as rising flood waters
continue to wreak havoc. Photo: Kenyan Red Cross

May 8 is World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is the world’s largest humanitarian network. It is neutral and impartial and provides protection and assistance to people affected by disasters and conflicts…and it sure seems that one day isn’t enough to reflect on these organizations and the services most of us take for granted.

Most Americans know that in times of crisis, the Red Cross is there. We know, inherently, that we will see them and their dedicated volunteers right alongside brave first responders in the midst of it all – from an international humanitarian crisis to a natural disaster, or closer to home, if we or our neighbors are affected by an emergency, such as a home fire.

“The International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement has a presence in 190 countries, including the United States,” said Jessica Tischler, Director of International Services for the Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region.  “That allows Red Cross Chapters to reconnect people with their families when they are separated by armed conflict, natural disasters, and other crises through our Restoring Family Links service.”

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Many people feel we are living in troubled times. They may feel that we, as a nation and a world, are more divided than ever. Interestingly, however, it seems that In the midst of a crisis, people tend to pull together for the greater good. As I read the mission of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and their seven fundamental principles, I can’t help but think, ‘‘Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all set aside our differences and live within these guidelines in our everyday lives?’’

The principles are:

  1. Humanity
  2.  Impartiality
  3.  Neutrality
  4.  Independence
  5.  Voluntary Service
  6.  Unity
  7.  Universality

These principles are the result of a century of experience. Proclaimed in Vienna in 1965, they bond together the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. If ever there was a time to put these ‘golden rules’  into action in our world, our nation, and our communities – it is now.

Happy World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day! I’m proud to play even a small role in this wonderful organization.  Here are some incredible photos to honor the day.  For more information, please visit redcross.org.

 

 

Observing a Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Human Rights Workers

By Ifat Gazia, American Red Cross Volunteer, Northeast Ohio Region

ICRC Annual Report 2013 - Syria

Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers retrieving dead bodies from the streets of Aleppo. Photo © Syrian Arab Red Crescent/TAYYAR, I.

The Syrian war entered the 8th year just a week back. This deadly war not only led to a loss of over 350,000 lives in the past seven years, but also the displacement of 5.6 million Syrian people.

More than 60,000 of them have gone missing.

Therefore, this war drew to itself the attention and intervention of international humanitarian organizations, the United Nations, and other human rights defenders from all across the world. But the violence in Syria didn’t spare even these aid workers and peacekeepers who worked for these organizations locally.  Many of these aid workers or UN staff members have been either abducted or are missing. Some of these staff members were also the local Syrians. Through 2017 alone, 28 UN staff members have been missing in Syria or have been abducted by different armed gunmen. There are many more missing who work with other aid organizations like the Red Cross/ Red Crescent and ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross).

Wars are always political, but the pain and destruction associated with them is unquestionably personal. Likewise, the pain suffered by the families of these staff members who are missing in Syria and other conflict regions of the world is beyond solace.

Every year, March 25th is recognized as the International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members. The commemoration of this day began after the abduction of a UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) journalist Alec Collect in 1985, who was working in the near East for Palestinian refugees. Due to the increasing number of incidents of violence against peacekeepers and aid workers working in different conflict zones all across the world, it has become essential to observe this day.

This day is an international day of solidarity with the families of those who lost their loved ones, and sometimes their only breadwinners. Henceforth, providing a significant reminder every year on this day that measures should be taken to stop the intensified violence against peacekeepers worldwide and stop their enforced disappearances is very critical.

This day is also a reminder for other people who are not directly linked to conflict to work towards world peace. This day is a reminder that wars do no good to anyone. This day is a reminder that it’s a war that creates refugees. It is a war that leads to enforced disappearances and killing. It is because of a war that we lose our loved ones.