Why does the Cayman Islands Red Cross have a Red Cross Month throughout May? And, what has a Swiss visionary got to do with it?
These questions and more were answered by the relief agency’s local director Jondo Obi on the run up to the annual observance, recently.
She said: ‘The local Red Cross chooses to celebrate the birth month of the organisation’s founder, Henry Dunant, as we think of him as inspirational and recognise his impact is so far reaching.’
According to Mrs. Obi, the august agency, one the most recognised organisations in the world today, was set up by Dunant, an ex-bank apprentice and struggling businessman soon after he witnessed first-hand the atrocities of war. On his way to seek an audience with Napoleon, he found himself a bystander at the Battle of Solferino in which 40,000 combatants were either wounded or died.
A deeply religious man, Dunant was appalled by the lack of respect given to the mortally injured and dying on both sides and set out to do something about it.
He marshalled first aid volunteers from a neighbouring village and turned a church into a makeshift field hospital. Dunant later wrote a compelling book about his experiences and set up the international agency we now know today.
Another little known fact is that his experiences also led him to craft a document on what he said should be adopted as the Rule of War. This later evolved into the Geneva Convention.
Locally the Cayman Islands Red Cross has chosen to observe its founder’s birth month to ‘promote greater awareness of the movement,’ said Ms Obi.
This year, on the 150th anniversary of Dunant’s birth, the CIRC is scheduling a host of events.
Red Cross Month events
Each Saturday throughout May, Red Cross volunteers will be outside Grand Cayman’s supermarkets creating awareness about the organisation shoppers about the work of the Red Cross and handing out giveaways.
On 7 and 27 May (6-8pm), the Red Cross will host seminars on HIV/AIDS at the Red Cross Headquarters in Huldah Avenue, opposite the Smith Road Oval. Open to the general public, the seminars will alert attendees to the fact that the Caribbean has the second highest incidence of HIV/AIDS after sub-Saharan Africa. The seminars will also include fun, interactive awareness raising activities. To attend please call the Programmes Manager on 916-1742.
On Saturday 9, 16, 23 and 30 May, the Red Cross Deals on Wheels mobile thrift shop will visit the districts, selling adult and children’s clothing, toys, books and household items.
9th – West Bay (6am – 10am) at the Town Hall junction
16th – North Side (6.30 – 10am) in the vicinity of Chisholm’s Supermarket
23rd – East End (6.30am – 10am) in Vernon Dixon’s yard (opposite Pirates Cove Bar), and
30th – Bodden Town (6am – 10am) in the Texaco gas station parking lot.
‘The reason we’re sending the mobile thrift shop into the districts is to provide a service to those who can’t easily get into town. We also want to show people that the Red Cross is in their communities,’ said the thrift shop manager Remy Imperial.
18th – Red Cross volunteers’ Sports Day – time and location to be announced.
Not to be left out the Sister Islands chapter will also be hosting its own Red Cross Month event.
30th – Cayman Brac karaoke fundraiser (7pm ’til late) Ashton Rutty Centre.
Organised by the Red Cross Brac Chapter, the evening will include cash prizes for the top singers. Those interested are asked to contact Co-ordinator Carrie Grant on 322-2622.
About 30 volunteers worked tirelessly and selflessly on the run up and in the wake of Hurricane Paloma, last November.
They put up tarpaulin in place of roofs which had been blown away, cleared a mountain of debris and helped man the shelters.
The director said: ‘It heartens me that the Brac chapter, six months down the road and while still in recovery mode have decided to go ahead with this year’s fundraiser in preparation for the oncoming hurricane season’.
‘The CIRC appreciates the backing of individuals and corporate sponsors in supporting its four main programmes over the years (disaster management, HIV/AIDS education/awareness, First Aid/CPR training and the thrift shop),’ said the director. ‘This all helps us achieve our mandate of reaching out to the most vulnerable within our community.’
For more information on how individuals and businesses can support the CIRC, call 949-6785 ext. 26.