For anyone that has ever traveled, you know each country offers something unique, something that makes it stand out from other places. Which is why people travel. It’s an awesome thing to experience new foods, cultures and customs. Countries—and even cities–look/taste/smell/feel a little bit different as you move place to place.
The global Red Cross is like that too. Each national society has slightly different roles within their country. We are still one Red Cross; all adhering to the same seven guiding principles (humanity, neutrality, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality if you’re counting). But, for example, the Japanese Red Cross Society has a booming medical capacity. After the 2011 tsunami, they rebuilt hospitals and ran ambulance services. We don’t do that here in the U.S. We are known for our first aid and blood services (although we do LOTS more too). Some national societies are focused on health programming; some on disaster preparedness. It’s a little different place to place.
There is one thing that every single national society does do—reconnect families. Each and every 189 of them.
Conflict and disasters leave more than physical wounds: in the turmoil, panic and terror, loved ones can be separated in minutes, sometimes leading to long years of anguish and uncertainty about the fate of children, spouses or parents. The Red Cross, as part of its Restoring Family Links program, works to locate people and put them back into contact with their loved ones. Annually, the American Red Cross alone assists more than 5,000 families in this effort.
In the spirit of one Red Cross, I’d like to give one more glimpse into our work internationally reconnecting families. This time from the words of the national societies themselves.
Irish Red Cross
Bulgarian Red Cross
South Africa Red Cross
To learn more about Restoring Family Links, visit redcross.org.