The Cayman Islands Red Cross’s deputy director, Carolina Ferreira, was one of 18 women out of 300 nominations worldwide who was recognised by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
During the month of March, in celebration of Honouring Women’s Day on March 8, the international organisation launched a global competition asking members of its 191 National Societies around the world to submit nominees to spotlight inspiring women in the areas of leadership and innovation. More than 12,500 people participated in the campaign, according to the federation.
As well as honouring four ‘Inspirational and Innovative Winners’, the federation awarded Ferreira and 13 others Commendation Awards for their work in their communities. Ferriera was the only recipient from the Caribbean region and one of only two recipients from the Americas region.
“Ms. Ferreira is the true embodiment of the values and principles behind the Red Cross Movement,” Cayman Islands Red Cross Director Jondo Obi said in a press release. “She is a relentless advocate for anyone, especially children, who suffer any injustice, and is constantly working towards helping those whose voice needs to be heard. She is a true leader, and one that fights tirelessly for the Cayman Islands community.”
As Deputy Director and Child Protection and Sexuality Education Programme Manager, among her other duties, Ferreira coordinates the Protection Starts Here grassroots multi-agency child abuse prevention project, which was born out of the HIV and AIDS Peer Education Programme she ran between 2002-2012 and which furthers awareness, education and prevention of child sexual abuse in Cayman.
“It is really humbling to receive this type of recognition, especially when you consider the barriers and realities that others in the Movement are facing, like war and starvation, which are so far removed from our reality it is difficult to wrap our heads around it,” Ferreira said in the release.
“However, I was truly floored by how much trust and faith the people that I work with have put and continue to put in me. While this isn’t comparable to war or other large-scale disasters by any means, our work is still difficult work. Dealing with child abuse is heartbreaking, demanding, sensitive and unpopular work, and I’m not even at the frontlines of it.”
Obi said that while the local Red Cross branch coordinated Ferreira’s nomination, the information and support came from outside the organisation, by members of partner agencies that have worked closely with her over the years.
One such partner is Inspector Kevin Ashworth of the Family Support Unit of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and a member of the Protection Starts Here group.
“She’s absolutely relentless in her mission of child protection and advocacy, and in what she’s trying to achieve, whether at the Red Cross or as part of the PSH group. She doesn’t get put off by any negativity or back down from a challenge. If she runs into a wall, she’ll just climb over it,” Ashworth said.
Sophia Chandler, child psychologist for the Services Authority and a member of the PSH group, said in the release, “Ms. Ferreira has been able to help organise a number of key organisations to come together and do the work that really needs to be done as part of the PSH group. She constantly observes our community and the world around us, and leading change on a moment-by-moment basis, to help people and educate the community on important issues.”
Other recipients of the IFRC Commendation Awards included volunteers and staff working in war zones, with refugees and orphans, those in countries that have been hit the hardest due to climate change and who are working towards environmental sustainability, and those in some of the most impoverished areas of the world who are providing health and sanitation education to the most vulnerable. Recipients hailed from Yemen, Kenya, Namibia, Pakistan and South Sudan, among others.
The four top recipients were Itidal Abdu Nasser Ahmed, a volunteer with the Yemen Red Crescent Society; Shamila Dhana, a British Red Cross volunteer; Christine Nthahe, who volunteers with the Burundi Red Cross; and Melvine Obollah, a volunteer with the Kenya Red Cross.