Venezuela: Goodwill that gives life to International Red Cross Movement
Ten months ago, when Andrés joined the Venezuelan Red Cross as a volunteer at their branch in the state of Apure, located to the southwest of the country, Lilimar had already been part of the organization for nine years. Without knowing just how important their work would be, together they formed a hardworking team which, among other activities, has now taken on the task of putting together and sharing information to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus in their communities.
Early every morning, Lilimar meets with Andrés at the Red Cross office, where they put their hands to work for as long as necessary, sometimes stretching late into the night. "We get a ton of new ideas every day, not only on how to communicate what we're doing in each one of our programs, but also on how to keep people informed about how they can take care of their physical and emotional health. Andrés is Head of Communications of the Apure branch, so he uses his talent behind the camera to give shape to the ideas we come up with, and I provide my vision and experience with the people we serve," explains Lilimar, as she tells us about her day-to-day work.
In San Fernando de Apure, Lilimar, Andrés and their colleagues prepare useful information and share it on social media to offer their services to whomever might need them.
Although work at the Red Cross consumes much of their time as volunteers, both of them agree that visiting the communities, talking with people and giving them explanations about the pandemic – how it has badly affected the health of millions of people worldwide and how they can help prevent the spread – is the most rewarding part of their job. They know that talking to and having direct contact with their communities is what matters most in moments like these, so they stay motivated by remembering all the times their efforts changed the lives of others. "We get several heartwarming gestures from people we were once in contact with. Some call us up to greet us, others send of pictures of their families. It's the small things that make us feel sure that our volunteer work is truly worth it," they agree.
During these times, our work as volunteers is very important. We risk our lives every day when we leave our homes to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and prevent more and more people from getting infected.
Andrés Tang, volunteer at the Venezuelan Red Cross
Small gestures of goodwill that make a big difference
Every year, the World Red Cross Day is celebrated on 8 May to honour the commitment of millions of people who dedicate hours of their lives to provide support to those in need, wherever and whenever they require it, with the single goal of helping others. In everything they do, each and every volunteer is guided by seven Fundamental Principles: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality.
“Lilimar and I firmly believe that the principle of humanity is what really inspires us to take action. It’s very rewarding to know we can do our part in challenging times like these, when this pandemic is afflicting almost every country in the world. I think that’s the best we can do to support humanity as a whole during these times,” says Andrés.
Contributions such as those made by Andrés and Lilimar as volunteers at the Venezuelan Red Cross inspire others to keep on saving lives and changing realities despite the multiple challenges this pandemic poses to Venezuela, where access to basic services is limited.
“They’re patient, dedicated, sensitive and empathetic towards whoever needs it, but they also work as a team with discipline and lots of commitment. Working with them is fantastic,” answers one of Andrés and Lilimar’s colleagues when asked about them.
Around the world, members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement work to prevent and alleviate human suffering in situations of armed conflict, violence and other emergencies.
“For us, acting quickly and adapting to the situation has been crucial to support the needs of the most vulnerable individuals. Our conviction is unwavering because it’s well worth it to continue fighting and helping people despite the conditions that many of us have to face,” says Andrés in his message to all his fellow volunteers and other members of the Movement.
"My purpose is to contribute to the wellbeing of humanity, to build goodwill and to continue helping women and men in communities where no one else can reach them."
Lilimar Lima, volunteer at the Venezuelan Red Cross
COOPERATION WITH THE VENEZUELAN RED CROSS DURING COVID-19 RELIEF EFFORTS