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Moving mountains

Recognizing the courage and determination of Haiti’s National Society volunteers

IT IS IN TIMES OF GREATEST LOSS that we realize what is most important to our hearts and minds. It is in the deepest adversity that we discover who we really are. In Haiti we have lost so much. But we have learned a great deal about who we are as a nation, as a National Society and as individual volunteers.

Even as we grieve our loved ones, our colleagues, our brothers and sisters, we can still find reasons to be thankful. Those who have survived, even those who have lost everything, find comfort in being able to help others in need.

We are above all proud and grateful in the know- ledge that we belong to a worldwide humanitarian movement based on humanity’s highest ideals. This bond we have with our brothers and sisters around the world is something no act of nature can take away.

In recent months, I have heard the volunteers of the Haitian National Red Cross Society described as heroes. We will leave this to others to judge, but I certainly consider the word apt when I think about my colleagues’ courageous actions.

Their heroism did not start on 12 January. It began the day they joined as Red Cross volunteers. It was the preparation of these volunteers — those who survived and those who did not — that helped us respond to this terrible catastrophe.

It was their presence — day in and day out — that afforded the Haitian National Red Cross Society the respect and cooperation of communities that have suffered so greatly. Often in danger, always determined, these volunteers have braved hurricanes and floods. They have helped people rebuild their homes and find new livelihoods since the hurricanes of 2008 and 2009. Just last year, they helped train more than 15,000 people in first aid, promoted good hygiene and blood donation, and worked towards the prevention of HIV/AIDS and malaria, highly prevalent diseases in Haiti.

They did not do all this alone, however. Delegations from the American, Canadian, French, German and Spanish Red Cross Societies — along with colleagues from the ICRC and the IFRC — have been working side-by-side with us for many years. When the earthquake struck, National Society volunteers from around the world poured into Haiti without a moment’s hesitation, willing to offer their energy, dedication, skills and love. I would like to thank all of these everyday heroes — as well as all those who gave their time and money to help Haiti recover and rebuild. These people are the very essence of the Movement that Henry Dunant dreamed of.

We have a saying in Haiti that “behind every mountain, there lies another mountain”. Nothing could be truer for us today. Not only must we help people with their immediate survival, we must make it through the next big hurdle — the rains and hurricanes — to begin looking at Haiti’s long-term survival. Wè jodi-a, men sonje denmen, as we say in Creole. Live today, but think about tomorrow.

Michaèle Amédée Gédéon
President, Haitian National Red Cross Society

 


Michaèle Gédéon, President of the Haitian National Red Cross Society, during a recent visit to Léogâne.
Photo: Alex Wynter/IFRC

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It is in the deepest adversity that we discover who we really are. In Haiti we have lost so much. But we have learned a great deal about who we are as a nation, as a National Society and as individual volunteers.”

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