Everyday most of the seven billion people in the world are touched by the Red Cross and Red Crescent without even realizing it. Almost everyone or someone they know received a first aid tip or been visited by a volunteer, perhaps not knowing it was their local Red Cross in action. Annually, May 8 is World Red Cross Red Crescent Day. Today we celebrate the power of community and people helping people, both in the spotlight during crises and behind-the-scenes in day-to-day life.
More than 17 million Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and 80 million members interact with friends, families and neighbours the world-over. Here in Ireland, we have approximately 5,500 Red Cross volunteers. Their service has a positive impact on the lives of every member of their community. They serve in places like hospitals, schools, community centres and gatherings, sometimes directly in peoples homes all the while providing life-changing and at times life-saving services.
Here in Ireland, we reach thousands of people each year, building stronger communities with volunteer-led programmes and services such as the community care programmes and mountain and lake rescue teams. In particular, our emergency response programmes in Limerick, Clare, Cork and all counties impacted by storms and flooding this year have enabled us to help hundreds of families to get back on their feet.
The Irish Red Cross, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Across the globe, the Red Cross and Red Crescent helps support 180 million people every year in community programmes, responding to disasters and inspiring hope.
People instinctively want to contribute and give. This has been part of human nature throughout history, said Bekele Geleta, Secretary General, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. There is a humanitarian in each of us, and the Red Cross and Red Crescent creates a space where people mobilize together to amplify the impact of their good work.
"The size, outreach and grassroots work of the Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteer network across the world are simply unique," said Yves Daccord, Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross. "Wherever I go, people have stories to share with me about people they know in our Movement."
Almost everyone has a Red Cross or Red Crescent story. On World Red Cross Red Crescent Day, we invite everyone to share their story with family and friends and ifrc.tumblr.com, on twitter #MyRedCross or on the Irish Red Cross Facebook page www.facebook.com/irishredcross.