Monthly Archives: January 2010

American Red Cross Responds Now and Looks Ahead in Haiti

Marietta resident and International Red Cross volunteer Brigitte Gaillis

Thursday, January 28, 2010-

Two weeks after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Marietta resident and International Red Cross volunteer Brigitte Gaillis, along with other Red Cross volunteers, is busily attending to the emergency needs of those who survived the disaster. As days stretch to months, however, Gaillis and other Red Cross leaders will begin looking ahead for long-term solutions to help rebuild the Caribbean country.

Temporary shelter and food are the top priorities for the people of Haiti now. Once those needs are met, the Red Cross will be part of a group of agencies that will plan for long-term needs, similar to the approach taken for those affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami in December 2004.

Reconstruction and recovery in Haiti will take years, and many of the programs that were implemented in tsunami-affected countries may be useful when rebuilding the Port-au-Prince region of Haiti.

Focal Points for Long Term Recovery

After the 2004 tsunami, the American Red Cross focused its long-term recovery on six key areas: water and sanitation, psychosocial support, health, shelter, livelihoods and disaster preparedness. Five years later, villages teem with activity, classrooms are full of students and marketplaces are alive with business.

“We not only rebuilt communities, but we built them with a sustainable future in mind,” said Gerald Anderson, senior director of the Tsunami Recovery Program for the American Red Cross. “We designed our programs to make communities stronger, safer and better prepared by giving people the skills and training to know how to respond to emergencies. We involved people at the community level.”

Through more than 80 relief and recovery projects, the Red Cross helped more than 4 million people who were affected by the tsunami. More than 16,200 temporary and permanent houses were built. Nearly 200,000 people have improved access to clean water and more than 91,000 people received loans, livelihood resources or job training.

The role of the American Red Cross in an international disaster response differs significantly from its role in domestic disasters. In an international event, the Red Cross offers services in conjunction with the other societies within the Red Cross network, which currently spans 186 countries. When the Red Cross responds domestically, relief supplies can be delivered to the affected areas quickly and without bureaucratic clearances. This is not necessarily the case internationally, where there are sometimes bureaucratic obstacles and customs delays.

Partnerships Which Speed Relief and Recovery

In spite of these differences, to date, the American Red Cross has spent or committed more than $67 million to meet the most urgent needs of earthquake survivors. This includes a recent commitment of $30 million to the UN World Food Programme to support their effort to feed 1 million people in Haiti for a month. Red Cross relief supplies continue to arrive, although significant bottlenecks remain that have held up relief. Family-sized tents with tarps, ropes, and construction tools are being distributed with relief partners like the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The Red Cross is also distributing hygiene kits, water purification tablets and blankets. Creole-speaking volunteers are on board the hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, to serve as interpreters for Haitian patients receiving medical care from the U.S. military. At the request of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Red Cross has also shipped blood and blood products into Haiti and is coordinating future PAHO orders for Haiti with other agencies that collect blood donations in the United States.

Prior to the quake, the American Red Cross was on the ground in Haiti, running several programs in conjunction with the Haitian National Red Cross Society. One program includes efforts to reduce deaths attributed to malaria and malnutrition; distribute mosquito netting; and provide nutrition, food preparation and breast-feeding trainings at the household level. Another program trained national society employees and volunteers on how to prepare for and respond to disasters. A third program worked to provide HIV prevention messaging and skills to young people between the ages of 10 and 24.

Because of the generosity of donors, people in Haiti will receive more than immediate relief; they will receive resources, support and training from the Red Cross that will help them recover and rebuild for years to come.

You can help the victims of countless crises, like the recent earthquake in Haiti, around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster, please do so at the time of your donation by mailing your donation with the designation to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013 or to your local American Red Cross chapter. Donations to the International Response Fund can be made by phone at 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish) or online at www.redcross.org.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit http://www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org. Related Links

A Voice of Hope from Haiti-Report #2 from Brigitte Gaillis

Brigitte Gaillis, Marietta resident and International Red Cross volunteer, completed her fifth day of disaster duty on the island nation of Haiti which was rocked last week by a 7.0 earthquake. Gaillis stated by phone that she was positioned at the earthquake ravaged headquarters of the Haitian Red Cross where she and dozens of  Haitian Red Crossers distributed food, water and reassuring smiles to just over 110 Haitian families. Gaillis  further related that delegates from the Japanese Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross were providing first aid and family reunification services respectively. Though a seasoned veteran of several other international relief efforts, Gaillis emphasized that her assignment in Haiti is among the hardest that she has ever accepted. “Most roads are impassable so we had to make several unscheduled detours to deliver our supplies,” lamented Gaillis. “It is tough here in Haiti but we will take it one step at a time.”

A Voice of Hope from Haiti-Report #1 Brigitte Gaillis

Based in the airport in Port-au-Prince, Gaillis is doing outreach to survivors.  Over a 1,000 families have benefitted from relief efforts such as mobile kitchens and hygiene products.   Residents are given tickets so they can be called by number to receive aid.  Progress is slow, given the numerous logistical challenges.  Thousands of families are living in makeshift housing in hot, muggy conditions.  Gaillis indicated that this has been the hardest assignment she’s had.  The scope of loss and devastation is unfathomable.  It’s a very emotional experience.
Gaillis was deployed on January 13 and will continue to serve Haiti in its time of need.  We will check in with her periodically to better understand how Red Cross is fulfilling its humanitarian mission.

American Red Cross releases $200,000 in aid to help communities affected by earthquake in Haiti

Tuesday, January 12, 2010 — The American Red Cross has pledged an initial $200,000 to assist communities impacted by today’s earthquake in Haiti, and is prepared to take further action as local responders assess the situation.

“Initial reports indicate widespread damage in Port au Prince, with continuing aftershocks,” says Tracy Reines, director of international disaster response for the American Red Cross. “As with most earthquakes, we expect to see immediate needs for food, water, temporary shelter, medical services and emotional support.”

The American Red Cross has made available all of the relief supplies from its warehouse in Panama which would provide for basic needs for approximately 5,000 families. In addition, it is deploying a disaster management specialist to Haiti, and has additional disaster specialists on standby if needed.

The American Red Cross has an extensive partnership with the Haitian Red Cross, which is expected to lead the Red Cross response to the earthquake.

The American Red Cross has staff on the ground in Haiti who provide ongoing HIV/AIDS prevention and disaster preparedness programs. At this time, all the three American Red Cross staff in Haiti have all been reported safe.

The Haitian Red Cross was founded in 1932 and is one of the primary organizations in the country responding to disasters. Although earthquakes are less common, Haiti is frequently impacted by hurricanes including those in 2008, and the Haiti Red Cross has developed experience in disaster response due those disasters.    

For more information and to schedule interviews, please contact Mat Morgan:  morganmat@usa.redcross.org or 202-262-9148.

We are not accepting volunteers to travel to Haiti. If you would like to volunteer for the American Red Cross, please contact your local chapter. For inquiries about relatives living and who have citizenship in Haiti, please be patient and call repeatedly until the lines clear or contact other family members who live nearby. Telephone, Internet and other communication lines are often disrupted in times of disaster. People trying to locate U.S. citizens living or traveling in Haiti should contact the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, at 1-888-407-4747 or 202-647-5225.

You can help the victims of countless crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. Donations to the International Response Fund can be sent to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013 or made by phone at 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish) or online at http://www.redcross.org.

Red Cross Shares Its Message With the Atlanta Girls’ School

Natalie Johnston-Russell Speaks About Disaster Preparedness

The Metro Atlanta Chapter of the Red Cross was invited to participate in the Atlanta Girls’ School Winterim, an opportunity for students to explore exciting topics not traditionally found in a school curriculum.

Red Cross representatives taught small groups of middle school girls in 90-minute blocks over several days.  Topics included the Red Cross mission and history, disaster preparedness, first aid/CPR and babysitting.

“It was a wonderful experience,” says Natalie Johnston-Russell, Development Officer.  “The girls quickly applied the information we shared with them.  They now know what it means to have a plan, make a kit and be informed; and, hopefully, they brought that message home as new ‘Masters of Disaster’.”

The Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter offers educational programs to any organization throughout the year.  To learn more about how you can have a Red Cross presenter speak at your place of work, play or worship, please contact the main office at 404-876-3302 or visit our website at http://www.atlantaredcross.org.