World Red Cross Day: People across the globe share How we have touched their lives


Every day, most of the seven billion people in the world are touched by the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement without even realizing it. Almost everyone — or someone they know — has donated blood or received a first aid tip or been visited by a volunteer, perhaps not knowing it was their local Red Cross or Red Crescent in action.

Prof Rahmat Mohammed, Secretary General, Asian-African Legal Consultative Organisation (left), Ms Mary Werntz, Delegation Head, ICRC New Delhi and Dr S P Agarwal, Secretary General, Indian Red Cross Society, at the World Red Cross Red Crescent Day celebrations organised by the ICRC and AALCO in New Delhi on 8 May 2014. © ICRC/D. Singh

Annually, May 8, the birth anniversary of Henry Dunant, the founder of the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, is celebrated as World Red Cross Red Crescent Day to celebrate the power of community and people helping people, both in the spotlight during crises and behind-the-scenes in day-to-day life.

Since long before the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement came into existence, people have been drawn to help each other: out of compassion, kindness and hope. Today, the Movement, with more than 17 million volunteers and 80 million members, provides a space where people can mobilize, share their aspirations, and act on them together to respond to crises and inspire hope.

This year, in order to commemorate World Red Cross Day, the Movement invited people from all over the world to share their Red Cross stories. The New Delhi delegation joined the worldwide celebrations by organising a photo exhibition and a social gathering which was attended by diplomats, representatives of international organisations, Red Cross Movement partners, academicians, journalists and lawyers. Some retired officers of the Indian security forces, who had been taken prisoners of war (POW) during the India-Pakistan war of 1971, were also present at the event. Air Vice Marshal (Retd) Aditya Vikram Pethia, a Vir Chakra-awardee who attended the event, gifted Ms Mary Werntz, Head of New Delhi Regional Delegation, ICRC, his POW ‘capture card’, which he had saved from the time of the war, as a token of appreciation for the help rendered to him by the ICRC.

Capturing the spirit of the celebrations, Ms Mary Werntz, said that this is a day to pay tribute to the resilience of the human spirit. “As we stand here today we need to remind ourselves of the ongoing humanitarian crises in such places as the Central African Republic, the Philippines and Syria to name a few. This is a day to remember the power of an individual act of kindness, a spontaneous act of compassion, a voice of tolerance, an outstretched hand of helpfulness, of people giving instinctively. It is a day to honour a community’s efforts to heal itself after a tragedy.” She further added, “in the face of ongoing suffering, let us draw inspiration from the many small acts of humanity in everyday life and in times of crisis.”

A radio programme was also aired on All India Radio wherein people from different walks of life talked about the impact the Red Cross has had on their lives. The state branches of the Indian Red Cross Society across the country also joined in to celebrate the spirit of humanity.

This World Red Cross Day was special as the Movement is celebrating more than 150 years of humanitarian action worldwide. The Red Cross Day is also seen as a moment to reinstate the promise to continue addressing the humanitarian needs of millions of people across the world.

The theme of the celebration this year is ‘My Red Cross Red Crescent Story’, through which the Movement is documenting stories of all those who have been touched  by the Red Cross or Red Crescent in some way or the other, either as a volunteer or as a beneficiary. While many soul-stirring and inspiring stories of the Movement reached the ICRC worldwide, we share with you some of the Indian voices in this edition of the newsletter.


Almost everyone has a Red Cross story, what's yours?

“For me, World Red Cross Day is my second birthday. It was on 8 May 1972 that I was brought
back by the ICRC from Rawalpindi in Pakistan, where I was kept as a Prisoner of War (POW), to Palam, India. I am thankful to the ICRC for looking after me when I was an injured POW and for bringing me back to this country. After that, I settled down in India and started flying again. That’s the story of my life and the story behind my second birthday!”
Air Vice Marshal (Retd) Aditya Vikram Pethia


“I believe the Red Cross touches almost every-one’s life. Very early dur-ing my school life, I got introduced to the Junior Red Cross and the concept of blood banks. I learnt the importance of blood donation and how it saves lives. I think this is a very important thing that the Red Cross has been promoting.”
Dr M Ganapathy, Executive Director, Public Health Resource Society, New Delhi


“In 2006, I was working as a journalist for German TV and had gone to Trincomalee in Sri Lanka to report on the situation there. The Red Cross was an important partner in our work and helped us get to places where it was difficult to go. Another time, I was in Afghanistan covering the crisis of 27 Koreans having been taken hostage by the Taliban. At that time too, the ICRC was the only organisation that had access to the Taliban to negotiate the release of the hostages.”
P M Narayanan, Senior Producer (South Asia), German TV