America is “the most sympathetic nation in the world,” a Tokyo illustrator said about the 1923 American Red Cross Japanese Earthquake Relief Fund. The effort raised nearly double its original goal, and helped people recover with food, clothing, medical goods, lumber and building supplies, a hospital and a large grant to the Japanese Emergency Relief Bureau.
In 2011, Americans helped Japan recover from another massive earthquake and tsunami. Families at evacuation centers received water, relief items and emotional support every day for months. The Red Cross equipped survivors with appliances for their temporary homes, repaired damaged medical facilities and provided special support programs for the elderly and children.
The Greatest Mother in the World
The American people have always looked to the Red Cross as the logical organization to carry out international relief efforts on their behalf.
When Midwestern farmers gathered carloads of grain to help starving Russians in 1892, they turned to the American Red Cross for distribution. In this first international relief program, the American Red Cross chartered a steamer loaded with food and medical supplies, and dispatched a staff member to direct the effort.
Since then the organization has been there to help those affected by natural and man made disasters. In the twentieth century, some referred to the American Red Cross as The Greatest Mother in the World. The accolade reflects the giving hearts of the American people.November 2011, Haiti Earthquake Updates. Andre and Nelta Renatus, with their young daughter Andrica, are living in a new home built with Red Cross support in the community of Villambeta, near Port-au-Prince. Photo by: Daniel Cima/American Red Cross
The American Red Cross was in Europe, for example, before the United States entered both World War I and World War II, providing medical supplies, ambulances and food. And the Red Cross remained after both wars ended, helping millions of refugees and orphans with food, medical care and resettlement.
Today’s Global Impact
Last year, the American Red Cross worked with partners in the global Red Cross and Red Crescent network to assist 220 million vulnerable people in 76 countries.
In addition to the outpouring of support for the people of Japan, the American Red Cross responded to earthquakes and tsunamis in Indonesia and New Zealand. Millions of people affected by floods in Mexico, Namibia, Pakistan and other countries received food, supplies, health services and hope from the Red Cross.
In El Salvador, Vietnam, Turkey and 30 other nations, communities learned to prepare for a disaster and to help themselves and their neighbors should one occur. The American Red Cross helped reduce HIV transmission and improve the quality of life for people affected by HIV and AIDS through programs in Jamaica, Kazakhstan and a dozen more countries.
Since 2000, the American Red Cross and its Measles Initiative partners have helped vaccinate one billion children around the world. The goal of the initiative is to bring an end to measles worldwide.
The American Red Cross is in the second year of responding to the Haiti earthquake. Because of generous donors, dedicated volunteers and strong partners, more than three million people have been reached, and Haitian families have been able to leave camps and return to safe, healthy and vibrant communities.