World Red Cross Day celebrated in Belize
World Red Cross Day is recognized yearly on May eighth. It is a celebration of the work of the organization that has aided the country in many disaster relief efforts. But the institution is not limited to disaster relief and over the years has been offering various services to the public through several programs. This year, the celebrations are being held under the theme, “Together for Humanity” and its focus is youths. Today an Open Day was held at the Red Cross headquarters in Belize City and freelance reporter Duane Moody has this report.
Duane Moody, Reporting
Students from various primary schools converged at the headquarters of the Belize Red Cross to participate in its Open Day activities. It is a celebration of the institutions twenty-ninth anniversary as a humanitarian organization that has been selflessly serving vulnerable people throughout the country. Executive Director of the Red Cross, Lily Bowman says that it is to give the students a firsthand knowledge of the work of the Red Cross.
Lily Bowman, Executive Director, Belize Red Cross
“Often times they know that we do disaster preparedness, disaster response, but what they don’t know is to what extent we do disaster risk reduction in the off season. They also don’t know some of the other activities and programs that we do carry out. For instance: first aid and CPR. We also carry out a lot of youth activities. We’re telling them about our seven fundamental principles that we are guided by, we are telling them about history of the movement in the world, we are telling them about the Belize Red Cross and how it came about to be a Belize Red Cross—formally it was a branch of the British Red Cross—and we are teaching them a few skills in first aid and CPR. We are also showing them some of the relief items we give out in times of disaster, we have a lot of pictures and posters and things that they can see that have been developed through programs. Then we’ll take them downstairs to the area where we will give them some skills in first aid and CPR; actual demonstrations.”
Both locally and internationally, this year’s focus of the Red Cross is on youths and its anniversary is being held under the theme: “Together for Humanity” with the slogan “Youth on the Move.” And to assist with the activities of World Red Cross Day, ten volunteers were recruited from Saint John’s College and Saint Catherine Academy. Volunteer Larsha Flowers says her goal is to make a difference in the minds of her peers.
Larsha Flowers, Volunteer, Belize Red Cross
“I always had this thing in my heart that I always wanted to help people, I’m always caring and I always want to reach out and I decided that I need to bring this talent that I have outside of my friends group and outside of my school and bring it out to the world and if I want to start to be somebody who help people in the future and make a difference, I must stat from now.”
“What is it that you want persons out there like yourselves to take home when they do come out here and experience the Open Day for the Belize Red Cross?”
“What I truly want them to take in is that I want them to listen to our seven fundamental values; humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. What I basically want them to get is that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from but just come about and help and you yourself can be a volunteer because volunteers are needed right now.”
Today is being recognized as World Red Cross Day as a celebration of the organization’s founder, Herny Durant. And Bowman says that the organization has grown its services over the years.
“We do our famous disaster response, disaster risk reduction, disaster preparedness. We also do first aid training and CPR both basic and advanced. We do training through peer education of HIV and AIDS prevention. We offer psychosocial support. We train homecare givers; that’s people that would like to be in the medical field and cannot make it right now. So this is like a stepping stone; they take care of the sick at home. We have several youth activities through the volunteer program that we have. We visit the sick; we have feeding programs, attend to fire victims and a lot more.”
Funding for these programs and services offered by the Red Cross are provided through donations.
“We get donations or we ask for donations although right now the environment is not very conducive for attracting donations, but basically we thrive on the good hearts of others. We do first aid commercially so we bring in a little bit of funding there. Our homecare givers course brings in a small amount and the government, of course, gives us a small subvention as well.”
Duane Moody for News Five.