the Red Cross

Last week we had one of our regular site visits from the Red cross. They send us patients often and it has been an easy relationship as our core values are similar. The Red Cross guests are always people one remembers: landmine victims, people who survived as prisoners of war, people injured in floods, people falling into a ditch after being drunk while off duty (not all of their need for recovery stems from heroism 😊). At the moment, we have a patient from the Congo from one of their divisions: the International committee of the Red cross ICRC. (His injury was not alcohol related by the way).

During his stay, we chatted over a cappuccino about how the Red Cross operates. In the last few years, they’ve received a lot of screen time on the networks, firstly for their involvement during COVID, and now with what is happening in the Ukraine. I actually never realised that the Red Cross has three different arms, doing very different work, but with the same goal in mind.

ICRC is the organisation that ensures humanitarian protection and assistance for victims of war and other situations of violence (You guessed it – they are super busy right now!).

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies (IFRC) assist during natural disasters and health emergencies. ( They were of course very busy from 2020 onwards).

The third arm, National societies, work in their own countries, providing disaster relief, health and social progammes. As you can image, they have quite a bit to do in SA. There is definitely enough work here to keep them busy!

What all three branches have in common is that they strive to improve the lives of vulnerable people. They say on their website that they do so with impartiality as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class and political opinions.

My visitors opened up and told me how hard it was to stay impartial and how challenging it is not to choose someone’s side. They have colleagues in both Russia and the Ukraine.

What further interested me was the role of Florence Nightingale in the start of the Red Cross. I read up about it and was struck by the irony that her experience in Crimea was the start of the modern nursing movement. What would she say if she could see what is happening in that region once again?

Nightingale said; “Suffering lifts its victim above normal values. While suffering endures, there is neither good nor bad, valuable nor invaluable, enemy nor friend. The victim has passed to a region beyond human classification or moral judgements and his suffering is a sufficient claim”.

The Red cross based their organisation on these words. Nightingale went on to support the foundation in 1870 and played a major role in the design of nursing care and hospitals thereafter.

We are so privileged to work with brave, compassionate people like this. We will never take it for granted.

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