These words (right) speak volumes about the motivations,
commitment and courage of volunteers around the world — as
well as the rewards of giving one’s
time to help others.
As we prepare for 2011, the anniversary of the tenth international
Year of the Volunteer, Red Cross Red Crescent magazine
reports on the contributions volunteers make and on efforts,
within the Movement and without, to calculate that contribution
in economic and social terms. While we all know the contribution
is tremendous — especially
in times of crisis — it’s rare in this world
of financial stress, global consumerism and geopolitical
conflict that simple acts of kindness are afforded concrete
That needs to change. It’s time world leaders recognize
that worth is not only measured in taxable income, commodity
exports or consumer spending. As leaders such as United Nations
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have recognized, volunteers
play a key role in achieving the Millennium Development Goals
(reducing poverty, preventing and eradicating disease, reducing
child mortality and improving maternal health — to
name just four of the goals). In this and coming issues of
Red Cross Red Crescent, you’ll
see examples of volunteers doing just that: preventing maternity-related
deaths in Pakistan; reducing polio in West Africa and Afghanistan;
boosting local agrarian economies in drought- and conflict-stricken
areas; and delivering aid and healthcare to children and
other vulnerable people.
Many of these volunteers regularly put their health, livelihoods,
family life — and their lives — on the
line. So how can we better support, protect, prepare, train, motivate and retain
them? Are we doing enough? Volunteers interviewed in this issue’s cover
story address some of these concerns, including the economic
value of their work, the need for insurance or other support,
the importance of neutrality and the sacrifices they make.
Along with profiles of volunteers (such
as our interview with Haitian nurse Germaine Pierre-Louis
on page 8), we will tackle many of these issues in a series
of stories to run throughout the coming year. As part of
this series, we put the question to you on page 8: what should
the Movement do to better support, motivate and protect volunteers?
On page 23, we ask for your opinions about human trafficking:
how should the Movement respond? Tell us what you think about
these and other stories — and
we will publish a collection of your views in a future issue.
As we take on more issues of discussion and debate within
the Movement, we will also begin to publish your letters.
Please send us your views, comments and letters via email@example.com or at the address on page 3.
Thank you in advance for all your contributions.
Red Cross Red Crescent
value of this work is
uncountable. If I help one person,
that one person goes on to help
more people and it continues like
Shuang Shuang, a volunteer who provides
and counselling to HIV-positive people in Fu Shun, China,
with support from the Red Cross Society of China
“I feel safe volunteering with
the Red Crescent. It does not get involved with all this
politics business and that is its strength.
This is why I will continue volunteering.”
Hashmat Ali, volunteer for the Pakistan
Red Crescent Society
“Every morning, I wake up saying
to myself that I cannot accept anyone’s suffering.”
Germaine Pierre-Louis, volunteer
for the Haitian Red
Cross Society and one of three recipients of the 2010
Florence Nightingale award
have as much
happiness as when you help a
person suffering and he says‘Thank you’.”
Fawwad Sherwani, volunteer for the
Pakistan Red Crescent Society