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.
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
as we say in Creole. Live today, but think about tomorrow.
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.”