By Jarrett Barrios, Los Angeles Region CEO
World Red Cross Red Crescent Day is an opportunity to celebrate the bravery and achievements of the millions of volunteers and nearly half a million staff members who are there every day before, during and after a disaster, health crisis or conflict—worldwide. World Red Cross Red Crescent Day is also a time to celebrate the work the ICRC, IFRC and the 190 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies across the globe do on a daily basis to keep our humanitarian imperative alive—especially the work done by volunteers.
Every day, volunteers work with people affected by war, disaster and even forced migration. At times, these volunteers are the first to respond to devastation and because of this, they are the first to bring hope to people who have lived (often their entire lives) in utter dismay. I believe the growing strength and reach of our International Red Cross Red Crescent world-wide network is because these volunteers have chosen to make impartial humanitarian action a top priority.
This job is not easy, and sadly, often times it is not safe. In fact, quite frequently, humanitarians are subject to threats and attacks. Though much work has been done to share the very important message that Humanitarian Workers are Not a Target, every year volunteers around the world succumb to violence and lose their lives.
Still, these brave men and women press on; and every year one out of every 25 people in the world are helped by the Red Cross Red Crescent Societies. I’m confident this is only possible because of our organization’s dedication to our seven fundamental principles – humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity, and universality – which when implemented, goodness most always perseveres.
May 8, the day we celebrate World Red Cross Red Crescent Day, is Henry Dunant’s birthday. This year, he would have been 190 years old. Dunant not only founded the Red Cross, but was also the first recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for supreme humanitarian achievements. He was a contemporary of Clara Barton and together, they led the charge on opposite sides of the Atlantic—Barton in North America and Dunant in Europe— to create what would inevitably become an inspirational force for hope in the hearts of millions faced with disaster, war, migration or any other humanitarian issue—around the world.
To learn more about Jarrett Barrios or the America Red Cross Los Angeles Region, visit RedCrossLA.org