Post by Lisa Ghali, LMSW, International Caseworker for Europe and Asia at the American Red Cross
When disasters happen, people’s first reaction is usually to think about family or friends. Maybe they were affected. Are they ok? They contact them by phone or through social media only to discover that their loved one isn’t responding. Thoughts quickly travel from the best case scenario to the worst case scenario and then back again. In times of emergency, the Red Cross is there, helping loved ones reconnect after a disaster.
By going to our Family Links page, you have the opportunity to be proactive in finding your loved ones. You can search the list of people who are safe and well and register the names of ones who are still missing. Currently there are about 1600 registrations for the recent earthquake in Nepal. As more people know about the site, the more the list will grow and we can help reconnect even more families.
My role as a national headquarters caseworker has been to work with the chapters across the United States to support them in their efforts to engage the Nepalese community and coordinate with our international partners to understand our on-the-ground operations. In this recent earthquake, the best method for connecting with loved ones is the Family Links website. I support our colleagues nationally as they broadcast the message out to their community. Our colleagues have been canvassing neighborhoods handing out flyers with information on the family linking website and with contact information for their local Red Cross. They are reaching out to community leaders, consulates and the Nepalese diaspora providing information, referrals and access to mental health services.
For example, our colleague Terri Illes in New Jersey was contacted by the Mayor’s office after they learned of the tragedy of this recent earthquake. New Jersey has one of the highest populations of South Asians in the United States, therefore their community was dramatically affected by this recent disaster. Over the weekend, Terri was able to disseminate information on our response through the mayor’s office and became a local resource for information and support to the Nepalese diaspora during this challenging time.
As Red Crossers, we work as a global team to support our communities, whether they would like help connecting with their families overseas or disaster relief in the moment. We recognize that our global reach has a local impact and we stand committed to serving our community in these times of need.