This post was authored by Katheryn Wolfe, an American Red Cross worker in Balad, Iraq.
Bad zen. Bad luck. They want our blood, they have bad news. Oh no, run, it’s the Red Cross.
So perhaps, I’m being a bit exaggerative.
But, I continue to be surprised and usually amused by the different impressions that people have of the Red Cross. The two most frequent impressions around here, blood and bad news.
I finally figured out why it takes some convincing on our part to get people to come to our office. They think we are after their blood! Nothing a bit of public relations cannot fix. Just think, they can come to our office and enjoy a cup of coffee and some fresh baked bread without being poked with a needle! And thus my new battle cry…we aren’t just about bad news and blood.
My colleague, Neelum and I went to an event about a month ago and asked to speak to the captain in charge just to learn more about future volunteer opportunities. Next thing we know, she comes walking toward us clearly apprehensive…worried, she said, that we had come with bad news. We apologized for causing such anxiety and told her not to worry.
We normally speak with a handful of units every night. Most welcome our calls, or a least become accustomed to them. But every once in awhile you “make the phone call” and an argument pursues (friendly of course) who is going to take the Red Cross message. I of course proceed to ask “Am I that unpleasant to talk to?” and laughter generally follows. So needless to say, during the holidays we decided to smooth things over a bit and send care packages…with cards that said “We thought you might like something other than bad news for a change.”
We are delighted when people ask what we do here. It’s our chance to eliminate any fears of stepping into our office, and tell them about all good things we have to offer! A chance to make a cake on your birthday. Phone cards. Candy. Books. DVDs. Fresh bread. A private room to communicate with your family. Hot chocolate. Big screen TVS. A wii. bbqs. Special events. Nice people to talk to. And it will only cost them a pint of blood (just kidding!)