While the Cayman Islands Red Cross stays active all year, May offers the organization a chance to step up its activities and raise awareness. With World Red Cross Day on Monday, the local organization joined chapters across the globe in recognizing more than 150 years of the international movement.
CIRC director Jondo Malafa Obi said the chapter has a busy month ahead as it manages its four major volunteer-run programs.
“We’re busy all year-round. When we’re not responding to a disaster, we’re training for it,” she said.
Beyond hurricane and disaster response, she said, the local chapter also runs first aid and aquatic safety training, teaches child protection and sexuality programs, and operates a community thrift shop.
Ms. Obi said much of the work done by the CIRC fills service gaps in Cayman. Since no national mandate exists for lifeguards on Cayman’s beaches, for example, she said water safety training aims to address the need. The courses at the Cayman Turtle Centre have even attracted international attention, including from first-aid groups in Bermuda interested in participating.
“We have a resource ready to go if there is ever a law. The Red Cross is ready to step in with training,” Ms. Obi said.
The organization also offers child protection training to promote proper handling of sexual abuse cases and to prevent abuse through background checks.
CIRC offers two free weekly training sessions through its Darkness to Light program on child sexual abuse. Organizations that complete the training and meet program requirements are eligible for a “seal of protection” to show parents and students they comply with safety standards.
With hurricane season approaching, Ms. Obi said the organization will also be increasing its staff training efforts on shelter management and disaster response.
“It’s important to remember the Red Cross doesn’t just appear after a hurricane. It takes a lot of planning. We’re committed to professional training. That takes time and resources,” Ms. Obi said. “We were there in Ivan. We were there in Paloma, and we’ll be there again.”
She encouraged the public to prepare a bag that can be easily accessed in the case of a hurricane or earthquake. She recommends the bag contain medication, flashlights, important documents in waterproof bags, wet wipes, canned food, and toys for children.
For those interested in volunteering with the Red Cross, she said the organization welcomes all skill sets.
“Bring your skill. If your skill is painting, well, come paint with us. We’re open to all walks of life,” she said.
The chapter is running a raffle until the end of month for two round-trip tickets to Miami on Cayman Airways and a two-night stay at the Miami International Airport Crown Plaza hotel. Tickets cost $5 and will be sold at locations across Grand Cayman.