After seeing two shocking bomb attacks in Damascus on television, Batoul, a 21-year-old Syrian student, wanted to help the people affected by the ongoing violence in her country.
She learned about the work that Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC)—supported by the American Red Cross—was doing in many parts of the country and she immediately volunteered as a first aid worker.
Now five months in, the experience has shown her the importance of the global Red Cross and Red Crescent’s mission.
“SARC's mission was not clear to a lot of people, but the crisis here has highlighted its role and mission,” she said. “With SARC I can help my community with neutrality and without any discrimination. I found this is the organization for people who want to provide humanitarian assistance to all.”
As a volunteer, Batoul’s shifts can last up to 12 hours. New volunteers receive three weeks of first aid training so they are ready to assist even in complex emergencies. They also take a course in performing minor surgeries.
Her strong passion has encouraged her to prioritize her work with SARC. She has left her university, but hopes to complete her studies in law once life in Syria returns to normal.
But after the crisis has passed, she is still committed to volunteering and supporting her community. She believes SARC is vital in providing support to vulnerable people and finds personal satisfaction in helping others.
Despite the security challenges and the risky situation in which many volunteers work, Batoul’s family remains supportive of her humanitarian work and they are proud of what she does.
In the middle of a discussion with a colleague, Batoul receives a radio message to respond to a car bomb near one of the schools in Damascus where hundreds of displaced families are sheltered. She immediately prepares and heads with the Emergency Medical team to the place of explosion.
As she leaves, she is asked if she has a specific message that she would like to tell her community or the world. "My work is my message.”
At least 3,000 volunteers are actively involved in aid operations for SARC, and approximately 10,000 volunteers have been trained to provide support in disaster response, first aid, restoring family links, relief distribution and other priority activities.
To date the American Red Cross has contributed $435,000 to the relief efforts in Syria and $200,000 to support response operations in neighboring countries. This funding has helped provide food, shelter and relief supplies.