Friday, January 22, 2010

The Red Cross

After the earthquake hit Haiti, I began to wonder exactly what the Red Cross does immediately following a disaster. The Red Cross was founded by Henry Dunant after he witnessed suffering in an Italian battlefield in 1859. He was from Switzerland and his vision was to help to alleviate suffering caused by fighting and to ensure that soldiers on both sides received food, water, and medical care. Today, the Red Cross also helps people in times of peace and disasters.

Once a disaster occurs, the Red Cross works with government officials to begin "relief" assistance to those in need. They supply food, water, medical supplies and provide medical attention with the assistance of emergency workers. They also set up temporary shelters for people left homeless where they can sleep and eat. Food, water and medical supplies are sent to the disaster area from Red Cross organizations in Canada, US, and overseas.

So far, 50% of the donations or money spent has been used for pre-packaged foods, water purification tablets, and thousands of jerry cans so that people can collect clean drinking water. 30% of donations or money spent has been used for supplies such as tarps, blankets, soap, hygiene products, kitchen sets, and first aid supplies. 20% of donations is allocated for logistical support such as purchasing vehicles to get the relief to people, gas, transportation costs, warehouse storage, and to pay for the deployment of relief specialists.

In the recovery stage of a disaster, the Red Cross remains on the scene and helps people rebuild their lives. They purchase essential household items and clothing for families. The Red Cross also provides ongoing emotional support and help people reunite with loved ones. The Red Cross may need to help Haiti for several years in the recovery phase so they are urging for us to help with the Haiti disaster. I have provided links below where you can donate to the Canadian Red Cross or the American Red Cross and you can also get updates on what is happening in Haiti.

Canadian Red Cross

American Red Cross

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