Our world. Your move. Events in Lebanon.
Lebanese Red Cross hits the road
The " Solferino Bus " left for its two-month tour of Lebanon on 8 May.
On board was a travelling photo exhibition entitled Our World – At War, showing the suffering, hope, heartache and loss experienced by the victims of war in eight countries, including Lebanon.
First stop was a fair for children in a Beirut park, organized by the Lebanese Red Cross youth section. Following a visit to a local Red Cross committee for a blood donation session, the bus made its way to the city of Saida for a march of volunteers with 150 candles on 11 May. At the same time, the photo exhibition moved from the Ministry of Tourism in Beirut to Saida, where it was on display for a week.
Then, for two and a half months, the bus continued to tour the country. Nicknamed the " Bus of Humanity,” it has logged more than 1300 kilometres, helping to spread awareness about the work of the world's largest humanitarian network.
" To me, the Red Cross is an ambulance that takes the sick to hospital, " says Hana, a primary school pupil who greeted the bus during one of its stopovers in southern Lebanon. " When an explosion happens, the Red Cross helps the injured and takes them away to get better, " says her classmate, six-year-old Mona. In a country torn apart by three decades of conflict, it is no wonder that these gi rls recognize the Lebanese Red Cross Society (LRCS) for its outstanding medical and emergency services.
A symbol of cooperation
Lebanon was one of eight countries that the ICRC chose to highlight the impact of armed conflict on civilians and the need to keep them safe from harm.
The ICRC, together with the Lebanese Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies'delegation in Beirut, launched a special, nationwide-campaign in Lebanon to raise awareness about the importance of humanitarian work in countries that have been turned upside down by war, violence, displacement, natural disaster or global warming.
The bus was the focal point of these efforts and travelled to every corner of the country.
" This year has a special meaning for the Movement, which has saved and is still saving the lives of millions of people exposed to danger around the world, " said LRCS president Sami Dahdah at a joint press conference with the Federation and the ICRC.
His comments were echoed by the ICRC's head of delegation in Beirut, Georges Comninos, who said the bus was a " symbol of cooperation in humanitarian action. "
Morality, humanity and sacrificeThe bus displayed the slogan " 150 years on the road for humanity,” along with the emblems of the Movement's components and its seven Fundamental Principles . At each of the 22 stops, members of the LRCS youth department and volunteers from the Emergency Medical Service unit organized demonstrations and activiti es for the public.
" To me, the Red Cross and Red Crescent means morality, humanity and sacrifice, " said Marlene, a 43-year-old housewife from the northern village of Batroun. " It is something vital, especially in times of emergencies. "
" I want to be with the Red Cross when I grow up, " exclaimed Mustafa from Baalbeck in central Lebanon. " I want to become a rescuer and help the sick and injured, " added the 10-year-old, as he watched LRCS volunteers in their shiny orange overalls simulate a rescue operation.
" The Red Cross is a good thing, it helps everyone. May it live even longer than 150 years, " said Hajjeh Hamidah, a 60-year-old housewife, as she watched LRCS volunteers light 150 candles at a vigil in the historic fort city of Saida in south Lebanon, the bus'first stop.
The Red Cross has assisted Hamidah's family on several occasions throughout years of war in Lebanon." My daughter is actually a volunteer with the Red Cross and has learned to become a nurse at the Red Cross nursing institution, " she said. Despite this, Hamidah had never heard about the Battle of Solferino , which took place on 24 June 1859. It was there that Swiss businessman Henry Dunant came up with the idea for an organization to help wounded soldiers. His idea has since been expanded to include protection and assistance for civilians during armed conflicts.
" This man must have been a great person to leave such a legacy, " she added after hearing about the " father " of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
In the northern port town of Batroun, 200 soldiers from the Lebanese Army's 10th Brigade re-enacted the famous battle, telling the story of Henry Dunant.
Dressed in red and white costumes and carrying nineteenth-century rifles, the troops engaged each other in front of an enthusiastic audience. LRCS volunteers evacuated the simulated casualties.
" The Red Cross is one of the most important institutions in the country. It reflects the courage and sacrifice of those young volunteers, who are dedicated to helping civilians regardless of their race, sect or religion, " said one spectator, summing up the support shown by so many Lebanese during the Bus of Humanity's successful cross-country tour.
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