AS the world celebrated World Red Cross Day last friday, President of the St. Lucia Red Cross delivered a message with a mixture of gloom, hope and gratitude.
Kenneth Monplaisir Q.C. said the evolving world and its problems painted a bleak picture of the future. However, with organizations like the Red Cross still operational, all was not lost.
The following statement was released by the President.
“Every organization in this world has a designated day to celebrate not only its anniversary but what it promotes in life and so the Red Cross on the 8th of May has long celebrated World Red Cross Day.
“We do so regrettably at a time when the world is almost upside down. The conflicts, and not only that, but the inhumanity of the conflicts with people dying, being burnt, having their heads severed…these are things that we didn’t hear before and so it’s growing on us.
“We have a lot of problems with the youth, we have problems with people moving out of the rural areas and moving into the city, referred to as “urbanisation”. There are many difficulties in this world but for the Red Cross, this is part of its efforts because it’s a humanitarian organisation. It’s people helping people and so we are lucky to have our special consideration to help people.
“We don’t do that in a vacuum, we have principles…fundamental principels which we have to adopt in our work and these principles are the background which allows us to carry out our humanitarian services, to enable us to go into the heart of disasters whether it’s man-made or otherwise.
“The Red Cross is respected and its respect comes from the seven fundamental principles which we have to adopt and carry out in this kind of world that we are facing.
“And so the message is very short. The message is that we carry out our work in this disastrous situation but we’re not only facing disasters, so you don’t come up and go into a disaster area, you have to be trained, we have to be taught what our principles are and the seven principles that we apply to undertake our work in this changing world.
“We have to train people because if you don’t train them and you go into a disaster, all you will be doing is create a disaster upon a disaster so the Red Cross trains people. It teaches them how to approach their humanitarian work. There will always be disasters, there will always be change in situations so the work of the Red Cross will always be there.
“We have to, at this stage do two things that we have to impress on our people through this message. One is that the 8th May is not just a random day selected for supporting World Red Cross Day but it is a day that its Swiss founder, Henry Dunant celebrated his birthday. And he would be honoured today by the celebration and if he were alive . He would be happy to see that his concept of trying to help humans in disasters has spread so far and wide.
“The other thing that got the Red Cross its worldwide support is, as I mentioned before, the fundamental principles and these principles that we share with you are impartial and take no sides. That’s why it’s easy to go into conflict areas. It’s independent and has a strong base of volunteers from all sides and sections. And so these basic situations which are unified by the help that one wants to give to human beings in a disaster, gives it the strength to be able to work.
“There are a number of organizations which do help and it’s not the intention or direction of the RC to put themselves before any other person. We all hope to work together because we are working for human beings. We are not even competitive. We work together with all of the people and our fundamental principles allow us to do that.
“In Closing I would like to say that you should think of the RC and give us the support that we need to help our fellow men in this world.
“So I say, long may we have the volunteers. Without them, the Red Cross would not be able to function and so in fact, the 8th of May can really be said to belong to the volunteers and the work that they do throughout to help out their fellow human beings.”