Byline: Carmela Burke
As she spoke of her decades-long involvement with the Lebanese Red Cross (LRC), Maha Karhani Zaghloul admitted: “Once you are in, you are never out.”
Indeed, once a Redcrosser, always a Redcrosser.
Maha spent the holidays visiting her son in California, and was easily persuaded to join the nearly 200 RedCrossLA volunteers assigned to the 2017 Tournament of Roses First Aid: http://redcrosslatalks.org/2017/01/09/2017-tournament-of-roses-first-aid/
Upon the invitation from compatriot Joseph Kanimian who is a board member of the Los Angeles Region of the American Red Cross, Maha extended her SoCal sojourn to discuss the mission of the LRC and its response to the Syrian crisis. Maha is a Member of the Central Committee of the Lebanese Red Cross, Area Director of their branch office in Tripoli, and Head of the organization’s Public Relations Committee.
Since the civil war which broke out in March 2011, as many as 11 million Syrians fled their homes to seek refuge in neighboring countries or other cities within Syria, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Of the 11 million people, 4.8 million escaped to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq while 6.6 million were displaced within Syria. Maha said humanitarian organizations throughout her country, including the Lebanese Red Cross, are assisting 1.5 million refugees in Lebanon.
As a host country, refugee relief operations conducted by LRC and its cadre of 7,000 volunteers include: distribution of food, hygiene kits and winterization items; water sanitation; cash transfer program; restoring family links; psychological support services; and disaster risk reduction. Maha revealed that the Syrian crisis has compelled LBC to augment and intensify its disaster management activities, and she sees “no sign that the refugees will leave Lebanon or return to Syria.”
So Maha carries on with her calling as she returns to her homeland–supporting the national society in its efforts to “save the most vulnerable and needy during disasters, crises, emergencies and security incidents” as well as promote preparedness and disaster risk reduction.
The Lebanese Red Cross is a national society established in 1945. In 1947, the Lebanese Red Cross joined the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and became a member of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. LRC is a founding member of the Secretariat General of the Organization of the Arab Red Crescent and Red Cross Societies. http://www.redcross.org.lb/index.aspx?pageid=907