Being Thankful in an American Red Cross Vest

Darke County Red Cross, Being Thankful in a Red Cross Vest, Disaster Volunteer in Philippines
Volunteers are working countless hours, in difficult conditions, trying to give people in dire situations, hope, comfort and the start to a new life.

In a country far away, where few visit Americans visit during the Thanksgiving Holiday, one Darke Countians is not only spending Thanksgiving, but has been there for two weeks since Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines. Deployed two weeks ago, JW met with fellow telecommunications specialist, Glen, where they initially started work in Cebu City setting up the Operations Center. These two International Volunteers have trained together on numerous occasions; including Austria last summer, making working in these primitive conditions bearable, imagine working with a headquarters that is running on a generator and no running water. It’s important to remember that when the American Red Cross response to disasters overseas is different than how we typically respond in the United States. When responding overseas, we work closely with the affected Red Cross society and provide the level of staff support and assistance they request. One-hundred- ten disaster specialists from Red Cross societies across the globe are providing support to the Philippine Red Cross in logistics, disaster assessment, shelter, health, water and sanitation.

In a recent email to his wife, JW informed her that Glen is being deployed to Talclabon on Monday and that he would most likely be going to Bogo City also on Monday; there is a Relief (mass care) ERU from Japan there. In Cebu, volunteers stayed in a local hotel, they’ll be in sleeping bags when they relocate. We are each taking a VSAT to provide Internet via satellite there. They are moving to two of the major hit areas. “You can't walk down the street without young kids following you with their hands out. Hard to ignore them; very sad; Once a mother in rags with an infant baby in her arms was following us with her hand out; a very different life style than we are accustomed.”

As of now, thirteen American Red Cross disaster relief specialists have deployed to the Philippines. They include one mapping specialist, two people who will lead a team focused on providing emergency cash distributions; a shelter specialist, two assessment specialists, two telecom specialists and a five-person team supporting the global Red Cross Emergency Response Team distributing relief supplies. To learn more about the relief effort or how you can become part of the American Red Cross, visit redcross.org.

The Red Cross relies on the support of the American people to carry out its mission of service to the 2 million members of the U.S. Armed Forces, 24 million veterans and their families. During this holiday season, the public can also support all Red Cross services by making a financial donation at redcross.org or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS. Individuals can also give the gift of life by making an appointment to give blood at redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS.