In Northeast Ohio, and everywhere, Red Cross committed to helping anyone in need

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross Volunteer

September 18, 2019- In light of reports over the last few months that some may be reluctant to seek help following a disaster or tragic event, we would like to reiterate that, “The Red Cross is committed to delivering help to anyone in need—regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or citizenship status—and to remain a neutral and impartial party, so we can access and help people on all sides,” as stated in this national press release.

The American Red Cross works to ensure that all people affected by disasters receive care, shelter and hope.

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Our commitment to assisting all those in need is reflected daily in Northeast Ohio. Whether a home fire, flood, tornado, storm or other disaster, our teams respond. We do not ask about a person’s beliefs, orientation or citizenship—and we maintain confidentiality.

Following a large event, an important resource is the Safe and Well website at https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php, in Spanish at https://safeandwell-es.communityos.org/cms/index.php. Following a disaster, those impacted can use the site to mark themselves “safe and well,” provide details and post a brief message, allowing loved ones to search for them.

Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh – Migration/Refugee Crisis 2019

In addition, the Red Cross has a number of programs to assist migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. These include disaster relief, aid and an international service to reconnect families. An overview of programs is available at: https://www.redcross.org/about-us/news-and-events/news/how-does-the-american-red-cross-help-migrants.html.

In Northeast Ohio, those seeking assistance or information can contact their local chapter. Phone numbers and addresses are available at: https://www.redcross.org/local/ohio/northeast.html. A national Spanish-language site is available at: https://www.redcross.org/cruz-roja.html.

Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh – Migration/Refugee Crisis 2019

In times of need, please remember that anyone can call on us for assistance. The Red Cross is guided by seven fundamental principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. Our mission statement and values can be found at: https://www.redcross.org/about-us/who-we-are/mission-and-values.html.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross Volunteer

The Wake of Maria, Six Months Later

Though it has lost its luster as a headline to news outlets across the continental U.S., the damage done during Hurricane Maria, six months ago today, continues to affect those who have begun to pick up the pieces of their lives on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Clearly, once the churning eye of the storm looked off toward the ocean, the devastating power of mother nature continued to wreak havoc on the islands. Touching not only those affected by the winds and rain of the hurricane herself, but also those who try to continue to build their life day-by-day. Big name stores have shuttered, tourism remains low, and by all accounts, tens of thousands remain without power.

Jorge Cropped

But the Red Cross remains a vital part of the effort to help — and provide hope for — those affected in the cyclical devastation of this disaster.

Along with our partners, the Red Cross has served more than 12.8 million meals and snacks and distributed over 5.9 million relief items across Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Photos by Sergio Rojas for The American Red Cross

Red Cross volunteers have provided more than 50,000 mental health and health services to support and care for those affected.

The international community continues to play an important role in the recovery efforts. More than 30 Red Cross disaster responders from around the globe deployed to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to help deliver aid. These responders came from Red Cross societies in Colombia, Costa Rica, Finland, Mexico, Spain, and from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

To support all of the urgent humanitarian needs of the Red Cross, click here to start a monthly donation. Thank you!

From Masury to the Mediterranean

Mahoning Valley Native Works with Red Cross to Help Migrants

By: Anmol Nigam, American Red Cross Communications Volunteer

 

Red Cross and MOAS migrant rescue ship in the Mediterranean Sea 2016

Jenelle Eli stands aboard the Responder rescue vessel in the Mediterranean Sea, some 13 nautical miles off the Libyan Coast.  Photo credit: Mathieu Willcocks/MOAS

When she thinks back to last October, Mahoning Valley native Jenelle Eli remembers working aboard the Responder. She remembers the Mediterranean Sea, gently rocking against the hull of the ship. She remembers looking through inky blackness of the night. And through that shroud of darkness, she remembers the hundreds of migrants trying to escape their own deaths.

Eli is the International Communications Director for the American Red Cross. Last October, she shared her experiences aboard the Responder on a Red Cross blog. The Responder is a search and rescue vessel that operates to provide lifesaving services to those adrift in the Mediterranean Sea. Packed into unstable rafts, these migrants often undertake the perilous journey to cross the sea with the hope that it will have a safe ending.

Eli warns of the risks that migrants face. “If boats weren’t out there to rescue people,” Eli said, “there’s no doubt that they would die at sea.”

After helping migrants reach safety, Eli works to improve their lives. However, despite all the travelling her work entails, “Ohio will always be my home,” she explains. Throughout her journeys, she remembers her beginnings in Masury, Ohio — a small community in Trumbull County, where neighbors are friends and strangers are friendly.

When she was a student attending Ohio University, she found her passion for helping refugees. During her college career, she volunteered with international students, learning of the hardships they faced.

“Some of my friends’ families…were in danger every day,” Eli said. “They weren’t sure if they’d have a home to return to once their degrees were finished—or if they’d even be safe back home.”

Years later, she ended up on the Responder. But on those late nights aboard, when the waves rocked the ship and the winds fell silent, Eli remembered back to Ohio, and she missed it.  She missed the forests and nature. And she missed her friends and family.

“I miss being in the presence of my mom and dad every single day,” Eli said. When she’s travelling abroad, she misses the simple things, such as tap water or pierogi and pepperoni rolls.

Eli understands how overwhelming this is for those who want to help. People should not feel helpless when they hear about the migration crisis, Eli said. “Refugees from all over the world have settled in Cleveland, Akron, and Erie, PA. Anyone who wants to help can do so by welcoming refugees and volunteering with families right here in the USA.”

To learn more about the global Red Cross response to the migration crisis, visit redcross.org/migrationcrisis.  Click here for information on other international services offered by the Red Cross.

 

 

Working Locally to Affect Change Globally

By Jessica Tischler, International Services Director, Northeast Ohio Region

Each year, disasters around the world devastate the lives of millions of people.  The American Red Cross is taking action to help save lives by:

-Providing urgent assistance to people affected by disaster in countries across the globe;
-Helping to vaccinate children against measles;
-Investing in disaster preparedness, making communities less vulnerable;
-Reconnecting families separated by international war and disaster;
-Educating about international humanitarian law.

In Northeast Ohio, we are actively engaged with reconnecting family members who have been separated by international war and disaster, and with educating individuals in our community about International Humanitarian Law.

I had the pleasure of recently meeting with Asma Sameen Bangash of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Red Crescent.  Asma is an attorney based in Peshawar, Pakistan, and serves as a Communication Officer focusing on International Humanitarian Law.  She is visiting the United States as a Fellow in a U. S. State Department-sponsored program, studying U. S. law and policy, and is spending time in Washington and in Cleveland at Case Western Reserve University.

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Jessica Tischler, Director of International Services, Northeast Ohio Region and  Asma Sameen Bangash of ICRC

As a member of the ICRC, Asma interacts with the Red Crescent Society in Pakistan, and expressed an interest in learning about the programs and services offered through the American Red Cross. I was happy to explain to her the many ways in which the Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies, by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors in Northeast Ohio.

For more information about Red Cross International Services, click here.

 

 

 

Preventing the Spread of Diseases

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has provided vaccination to more than 1.1 billion children in the fight against measles and rubella.

The American Red Cross, United Nations foundation, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and World Health Organization started the Measles and Rubella Initiative in 2001. Since then, Red Cross and its partners have vaccinated children in more than 80 developing countries.

Measles Vaccination Campaign

Measles Vaccination Campaign

In 2011, measles claimed an estimated 158,000 lives. This makes it a leading cause of death and disability among young children worldwide. This disease is highly contagious and includes the risk of developing other health complications, including pneumonia, blindness, diarrhea, and encephalitis. Measles are most common in younger children from the age of five to adults over 20. 95% of measles deaths occur in low income countries with poor health systems.

Rubella, also known as German measles, is a mild disease but can be serious for pregnant women and their children. If affected, women will give birth to a child with congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). More than 1000 children globally are born with CRS each year. In many developing countries, parents do not have access to medical service that can protect their children from this fate.

Measles and rubella and CRS are preventable. The Measles and Rubella Initiative is making great strides to bring vaccines that are safe and effective to dense populations where the virus will stop circulating. Vaccinations in these areas can lead to the elimination of measles and rubella.

The American Red Cross is providing technical and financial support to 12 African countries through measles and rubella vaccination campaigns. Red Cross volunteers go door-to-door in communities to educate parents, encourage participation in the campaign, and help with registration or comforting a child.

With less than $1, you can vaccinate one child and support this effort. With help from your friends, classmates or coworkers, you can vaccinate an entire village. To donate, click here or visit redcross.org for more information.

5 Years Later, Remembering the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti

by Wedley Charles, Intern at the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

January 12, 2010 I was being lured to sleep by the monotone voice of my physical education professor at Saint Cloud High School in Florida. He was rambling about the dangers that exist in the world and I decided to doodle. I was lost in my own world until he said “Disasters happen Wedley, you’ll never know when it’ll be your last day.”

I felt like a prisoner in my own mind when I arrived home. I couldn’t escape the words my professor told me. As I was walking towards my father I overheard breaking news from CNN saying there was an earthquake the magnitude of 7.0. The earthquake hit the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince, and neighboring cities.

My father, his bestfriend from Cap-Haitien, and I

My father, his best-friend, and I

My father went into an immediate panic. You could hear him mashing the buttons into the body of his phone. He was trying to contact all of his family members in Haiti, but he couldn’t reach them all. I remember him telling me stories of him growing up in a village in Cap-Haitien. The people of the village raised the children together teaching them local traditions and customs. He told me it would be his dream to have me go to his village and see his family. Now that the earthquake hit, I could no longer see those dreams.

Days later we discovered that my father lost two cousins and his wife at the time lost three family members. The deaths occurred northeast of the capital; La Gonave, Gonaives, Cap-Haitien.

The American Red Cross has supported more than 4.5 million Haitians since the 2010 earthquake. They have also contributed $98 million to improve the vital health care in Haiti. This allows families to have better access to quality medical care and clean water. $48 million dollars have been spent on job training, cash grants, and livelihood programs for the devastated communities. The Red Cross has also started programs to help entrepreneurs improve their business and marketing skills and they’ve trained nearly 10,000 people in construction techniques for emergency-ready homes. They provided safer sheltering conditions for 132,000 Haitians and upgraded or repaired more than 15,000 homes enabling them to remain safe far into the future.

Haiti 5 year Infographic

Haiti 5 year Infographic

The fundraising efforts of the Red Cross contributed $488 million for work in Haiti. The American Red Cross worked in partnership with the Haitian Red Cross and local Haitian organizations to support and sustain a permanent culture of preparedness.

Gail McGovern, CEO of the American Red Cross said “I have seen firsthand the destruction and shock in the days right after the earthquake, where people were just trying to get through the day with minimal food, water and health care. I have seen the steady progress and the return of a spirit of resiliency as Haitians have rebuilt their lives and communities. The pace of progress on the road to recovery is never as fast as we would like, but everywhere you look, there is a marked difference in Haiti, and I’m very proud of all that we have accomplished.”

What are the odds? A NEO Red Cross International Case.

The services provided by the Red Cross offers hope to so many in our community, in so many different ways.

Recently, a Restoring Family Links (RFL) client in Stark County was searching for his Registration Records. The RFL program, offered through our local chapters, is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The Movement is present in every country in the world and is supported by millions of volunteers.  As part of a global network, the movement assists individuals who are attempting to find family members who were separated by armed conflict or other situations of violence and disasters. Depending on the circumstance, the program can assist an individual with obtaining records.

The Stark County client filled out all of the necessary paper work with RFL caseworker, Barb. Once his request was processed, his records were sent to the chapter.

When Melissa, the International Affairs Manager, received the documents she attempted to contact the client but a recording stated that the phone had been disconnected.

“I hope his address is current. I will have to send him a letter advising him that his requested paperwork has arrived,” she mused out loud.

“How else will you find this man?” said a Red Cross volunteer working in Melissa’s office.  The volunteer asked for the client’s name.

“Oh my goodness! He lives across the way from my apartment,” she exclaimed when Melissa told her the name.

What are the odds?

The Red Cross volunteer went home that day and told her neighbor, the client, that his documents had come into the office that very day.

“I have been waiting for these papers. Now I can begin to move forward with my life!” he stated.

To learn more about our International Services, visit www.redcross.org/international or contact your local Red Cross Chapter.