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Heart and soul

Radio stations across Denmark are playing a new song these days. "My life is safe with you" is a ballad with a touch of both soul and gospel. The song, written and performed by a well-known Danish singer, Marie Carmen Koppel, was designed to promote the Danish Red Cross's annual October door-to-door collection and to mobilize the 20,000 volunteers needed for the fund-raising drive.

Koppel, inspired by American soul divas such as Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin, wrote the song over a weekend together with her partner Dan Hemmer. The couple then persuaded their recording studio and other friends on the music scene to support the project. "I wanted to write something that was not a typical charity song, something more abstract," explains Koppel. As the words show, it can be interpreted both as a love song and a Red Cross theme song.

With the help of the interest prompted by the song, nearly every home in the country was visited by a volunteer. The result: close to 20 million Danish kroner (4 million Swiss francs) were raised, which will be used for assistance abroad and at home during the coming 12 months. Meanwhile, the Danish Red Cross is already preparing for next year's collection and considering who to ask to sing the song for that campaign.


Polio down but not out

The Movement has joined the global initiative to eradicate poliomyelitis, the killer disease which still lurks in many parts of Africa, Afghanistan, Iraq and south Asia. Although National Societies, the Federation and the ICRC have already made a significant contribution to wide-scale immunization against polio, the latest drive represents a renewed commitment, in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other concerned parties, to wipe the disease from the face of the earth.

The National Societies, which are present and active in all polio-endemic countries, are in a unique position to participate in this initiative. The Federation will support the efforts of National Societies, whose focus will be to ensure high demand for polio vaccination through National Immunization Days, community awareness and social mobilization activities. The ICRC will work to facilitate access by children to National Immunization Days in countries where neither governments nor UN organizations are in a position to do so.

Hanover Expo2000

Situated at the heart of Hanover's Expo2000, the stand devoted to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has received more than 17,000 visitors. A photo exhibition and interactive computer programmes enabled the public to get familiar with the activities of National Societies, the ICRC and the Federation. Numerous volunteers of the German Red Cross provided on-the-spot first aid and a welcome service for the public and visiting personalities. Among the distinguished guests were: the pioneering heart-transplant surgeon, Dr. Christian Barnard, who chaired a seminar on first aid in case of cardiac arrest; Adolf Ogi, president of the Swiss Confederation; and Prince Albert, president of the Red Cross of Monaco.

Drawing a line

Following on from the Ottawa treaty, the 2nd International Conference on Anti-personnel Mines was held in Geneva from 11 to 15 September 2000. On this occasion, five more states ratified the treaty banning these indiscriminate killers, bringing the total number of signatories to 139. As a stark visual reminder of the purpose of the meeting, the Genevan sculptor Daniel Berset set up a line of 300 broken red chairs on the quayside near the conference hall. The chairs symbolized the number of victims claimed by anti-personnel mines during the conference, that is, an average of one victim every 20 minutes. The next conference is scheduled for September 2001 in Nicaragua.

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