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Beautiful Photos Capture Families Reuniting in Ivory Coast

red cross reconnecting family links ivory coast photo series

Children often get separated from their families in times of armed conflict. Reuniting them with their loved ones or communities of origin provides a glimmer of hope in what often seem like dire situations.

Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers help people separated by conflict and disasters to search for and contact their loved ones, also known as Restoring Family Links (RFL). We search for separated family members and provides phone call and Red Cross messages to connect families or deliver news about people’s whereabouts. Whenever possible, Red Cross volunteers actually reunite families.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) released a powerful series of photos, showing hundreds of children reuniting with their families after being separated as a result of post-electoral crisis in Ivory Coast.

You can see this beautiful reunification photo series on the ICRC’s website.

 

Photo above: Estelle (far right) and her sister recalled having to flee from Ivory Coast with their mother in 2011. She could not contain her emotions over the pain of having to flee and the joy of returning home to her own country. “My sister and I left our country running and hiding in bushes before entering Liberia. But today, the ICRC put us in three Land Cruisers and gave us travel papers to cross the border,” she said. Varney Bawn / ICRC

Sisters Donate Blood on 9/11 to Honor Their Late Father

9/11 september 11 blood donor donation day of service

Laura, Caroline and Mary Ogonowski lost their father, Capt. John Ogonowski, on September 11, 2001, when the plane he was piloting, American Airlines Flight 11, was hijacked and crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

After retiring from the U.S. Air Force, John became a commercial pilot and flew for American Airlines for 25 years. Though he spent his career in the air, his real love was farming. John grew up on a farm in Massachusetts and dedicated his life to preserving farmland and open spaces. He was committed to giving back and lived his life for others. Before his death, he became involved in a program that helped immigrant farmers from Cambodia and Vietnam. He mentored the farmers and even gave them pieces of his land so they could plant and grow their own crops and sell them in farmers markets.

A Meaningful Way to Honor and Give Back

John lived his life in service to others, and today, Laura, Caroline and Mary honor their father’s memory by doing the same. In the weeks and months following September 11, many people stepped forward to offer support to the Ogonowski family. Donating blood with the American Red Cross has provided the Ogonowskis a meaningful way to give back while honoring their father.

Laura, the eldest of the sisters, began donating blood in high school – as soon as she was old enough to give. As a student, Caroline organized blood drives on her college campus and later served as a member of the board of directors for the Red Cross of Massachusetts. Mary has followed in her older sisters’ footsteps and is also a blood donor.

Each year, they donate together during the Day of Remembrance Blood Drive at Fenway Park in Boston sponsored by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the Boston Red Sox and the Red Cross.

“On September 11, our family goes to a lot of solemn commemorations that are held throughout the city,” said Laura. “The morning is spent remembering and reflecting, and somehow, being part of giving blood in the afternoon at Fenway Park is a really nice way to end the day – it’s a good way to do something to help others in need.”

A Unique Way to Commemorate the National Day of Service and Remembrance

In 2009, Congress designated September 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance – uniting Americans in service in the same way that so many united following the attacks. The Ogonowskis feel that donating blood or platelets is a fitting way to commemorate the day. It’s a small act that can have a life-changing impact for others.

“After 9/11 the American people rushed to give blood as a way of giving back after the attacks,” said Caroline. “Now, on the 15th anniversary, the amount of people who continue to come out and donate blood to honor and remember those lost on that day demonstrates the continued generosity of the American spirit.”

You can make an appointment to donate blood or platelets at redcrossblood.org.

Mother-Daughter Duo Teach Kids the Importance of Preparedness

red cross pillowcase project disney disasterWe’re in the business of preparing the nation for disasters and emergencies, and it’s always a thrill to hear how our training makes a difference. That’s why, during National Preparedness Month, the American Red Cross and Disney are celebrating the significant impact of The Pillowcase Project. This disaster preparedness program for kids has reached more than 500,000 youth nationwide since 2013.

Want to hear the best news out of The Pillowcase Project? Six lives have been saved so far after kids participated in the preparedness training. SIX!

We sat down with Norma Gamero who manages The Pillowcase Project at the Red Cross National Capital Region chapter and her daughter Giselle Gamero, who is a Pillowcase Project volunteer, to learn more about the impact of the program and why it’s important to them.

Norma and Giselle, how does it feel to work together on The Pillowcase Project?

Norma: The Pillowcase Project is a great preparedness program for young children. Inviting my daughter into the program to conduct these presentations is amazing because she believes in what the Red Cross is doing, and believes The Pillowcase Project is an amazing program to help better prepare children for future emergencies.

 Giselle: Growing up with my mom working for the American Red Cross, she has always taught me how to stay prepared in any situation. This is why it has been incredibly amazing to work with her as a presenter for The Pillowcase Project. I truly believe in the value of the Red Cross and now I get to teach and prepare children about future emergencies.

What kind of feedback do you receive from the children and their parents?

Norma: So often we receive nice emails back from teachers on behalf of the children and parents stating how awesome The Pillowcase Project is, and how much the children learned during the presentation.

Giselle: I always hear children talking about how excited they are to fill their pillowcase as they leave the classroom. Children are always super excited to go home and get started on their workbook and to color their pillowcase.

Do you have any stories you’d like to highlight from a recent presentation?

Norma:  Yes, during a presentation in June 2016 at a school in Virginia’s Prince William County, we showed the children a smoke alarm and asked them if they knew what it was.  Most of them of course knew what it was and stated it, but there was one child who didn’t know what a smoke alarm was and said: “Wow, that’s what a smoke alarm looks like?”  His statement let me know we had taught that child something. I then asked him to go home and ask his parents to show him where the smoke alarms were installed in their house, and to make sure to ask them if the smoke alarms were working properly. And if not, to ask them to call the nearest Red Cross so we could come to check them, and install one if needed.

What’s the value you seen in programs like The Pillowcase Project?

Norma: There is a great value in The Pillowcase Project because it teaches children how to be better prepared for emergencies and the do’s and don’ts of a disaster. I personally think that with The Pillowcase Project kids are now better prepared than they were a few years back when programs like this one didn’t exist.

Giselle: I believe The Pillowcase Project has a huge value, because it not only teaches children how to be prepared for any type of emergency, but to practice what they have learned and to share with their friends and family. The Pillowcase Project aims to help any child, and if a live is saved because of a presentation, then our goal is met.

How does Disney’s support of The Pillowcase Project help you prepare children in your area?

Norma: Well, first I definitely want to thank Disney for providing the funding for The Pillowcase Project program because kids identify with Disney and their characters, like Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, etc. This makes it much easier for us to provide the training to smaller children. The kids are concentrated receiving a pillowcase with their favorite characters and at the same time learning about how to make an emergency kit out of it. I think this is ingenious, and children are more receptive to sit in a one hour presentation.

How has this program impacted volunteers who work with the children during the presentations?

Norma: The volunteers say that presenting for children is pretty rewarding, and that preparing children on what to do and how to be better prepared for emergencies is a way to give back to the younger generation of future volunteers.

Giselle: Being a Pillowcase Project presenter has taught me a lot about my own knowledge in certain situations. Children ask the most interesting questions and just want to learn about everything, so they always keep you on your toes. Children love answering questions and to be involved, so it’s always so exciting to go into any presentation. 

Do you have any tips for new Pillowcase Volunteers?  

Giselle: The tip I have for volunteers is to practice because it makes going into each presentation less nerve-racking and to not forget they are presenting to children and that children are very forgiving.

In addition to The Pillowcase Project, Disney is an ongoing supporter of Red Cross youth preparedness activities. Here’s a peek at our partnership with Disney:

 

If you’re interested in becoming a Red Cross volunteer, please visit Redcross.org.

The Unique Role of Non-Profit Partners in Louisiana Flood Relief

Large disasters like the historic flooding in Louisiana create more needs than any one organization can meet. We are working closely with the entire community – federal, state, county and local agencies, other nonprofit organizations, places of worship, area businesses and others – to coordinate relief efforts and deliver help quickly and efficiently.

So what does this look like in practice? While we often see organizations like Southern Baptist Disaster Relief on the frontlines operating mobile kitchens and feeding thousands of people with us every day, some organizations come through in more unique ways, playing a behind-the-scenes role just as critical to our operation.

Taking Care of Louisiana Flood Shelter Residents

Louisiana Floods red cross baby blanket partnerTake Church of the Brethren Children’s Disaster Services (CDS). Since 1980, CDS has been meeting the needs of children impacted by disaster by setting up temporary child care centers and using therapeutic activities and toys that stimulate imaginative play. Specially trained and certified volunteers provide a calm, safe and reassuring presence for children, as well as individualized consultation for parents about their child’s unique emotional needs. Several teams of CDS volunteers are working in Louisiana, caring for children and families who have been displaced.

In addition, Save the Children deployed an emergency response team to Baton Rouge to establish child-friendly spaces in emergency shelters and assess children’s most urgent needs. For more than 75 years, this organization has been helping children survive and thrive. In times of acute crisis, they mobilizing rapid, life-saving assistance to help children recover from the effects of war, conflict and natural disasters. louisiana flood red cross partner cell phone charge

Shelter residents may also have met with members from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and International Orthodox Christian Charities, who provided volunteers for spiritual care in shelters, or a team from IEEE providing telecommunications support such as charging cell phones.

Manpower and Brain Power: Louisiana Flood Operations

To assist with operations, Red Cross is partnering with Lott Carey and the National Baptist Convention of America to provide call center resources for our disaster hotline.

The Louisiana AFL-CIO is helping find drivers for emergency response vehicles and bulk workers to assist with distribution of supplies for the local communities. Comprised of local unions, Building Trade Councils, Central Labor Councils and district and statewide organizations, the Louisiana AFL-CIO also provided facilities for sheltering and feeding for Red Cross volunteers.

Damage assessment for flood victims is a huge mission. Islamic Relief USA and AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps have both deployed as the “boots on the ground” partners to pull off this part of our operation.

AmeriCorps Louisiana flood red cross

Altogether, the Red Cross is working with more than 90 national and community partners to help people in Louisiana.

Pets Evacuated From Louisiana Floods Find Refuge in This Special Shelter

Post by Jay Bonafede, American Red Cross

John White had been measuring the slowly rising flood water in inches until he realized it wasn’t going to stop.

“I put some important papers in a bag, grabbed two pairs of underwear, and my dog, Deliliah,” said John.

John’s story isn’t unique. Other shelter residents at the River Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, shared similar stories of quickly escaping with their pets as rising flood waters forced them to evacuate their homes without warning.

Pet Emergency Plans and Red Cross Shelters

Red Cross pets shelter louisana floodsFor many people, pets are part of their family and they should be included in their emergency plans.

“Hurricane Katrina was a turning point in recognizing that saving pets saves lives,” says John Walther, Assistant Commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. “People wouldn’t leave without their pets.”

Red Cross shelters must consider pets too as we work to accommodate a wide range of people. However, along with infants, children and the elderly, we may also have people with pet allergies, asthma, or other health issues, and people with a fear of animals. For the well-being of all people who turn to the Red Cross for help after a disaster, there often needs to be physical space between animals and people.

The Solution: Pen Pals (Not That Kind)

Red Cross pets shelter louisana floods

Recognizing a need, Louisiana received a $600,000 grant from the Humane Society of the United States to build Pen Pals, Inc. Dog and Cat Shelter and Adoption Center, the nation’s first specifically-designed disaster pet shelter. Opened in 2010 at the Dixon Correctional Institute in Jackson, Louisiana, the facility is currently home to over 30 pets whose owners are staying at the River Center shelter. The pets were transferred from a Department of Agriculture trailer located near the shelter site.

“People knew I would be hot that our pets were being moved,” said River Center shelter resident George Maah. “I scheduled a meeting to talk about our concerns. The Red Cross and the Department of Agriculture met with us one-on-one, and asked us to think about our pets. Is this trailer what’s best for our pets? I made a decision that it’s not.”


Quality Care, Quality Time: Sheltering Pets After Louisiana Floods
Red Cross pets shelter louisana floods

Every day, buses will take shelter residents to the facility where they can play with their pets in the large, outdoor yard or air-conditioned kennel.

“Everybody seemed happy, relieved,” said Colonel John Smith with the Department of Corrections. “They saw their animals have a yard to play in and competent people taking care of them.”

The Red Cross is also a proud member of the National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition (NARSC), which helps develop collaborative solutions to animal disaster response activities in coordination with emergency management officials. As a member of NARSC, the Red Cross works alongside groups such as the American Humane Association and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) to coordinate disaster relief.

In the case of Pen Pals, Inc., it’s working for everyone.

“I’m happy, and I know Delilah is,” White said. “Good experience for me, good experience for her.”

“I think it’s great,” Maah says. “They’re going to take good care of our pets, I have no doubts.”

The Making of a Shelter: Miss Becky and her “Angels”

Post and photo by Jay Bonafede, American Red Cross

Johnnie B. Walker and her family were forced from their Denham Springs home when much of Louisiana was affected by massive flooding in mid-August. They initially evacuated to a store parking lot, but were trapped there by the rising waters overnight, until military trucks brought them to a makeshift shelter set up at the Satsuma Community Center.

red cross Louisiana flood“That’s when Miss Becky and her angels showed up,” Johnnie says of shelter manager Becky Bowie and the Red Cross volunteers who worked to turn the makeshift shelter into something more pleasant for everyone.

When Becky arrived, she met a single father with six kids who had been sleeping on the floor.

“When I set up the cots, he just started crying, hugged me and said, ‘Thank you, God,’” Becky said. Since then, the shelter moved to the North Park Recreation Center, but the volunteers and residents remain a tight-knit group.

“Anything we needed, they made it happen, and they’re still making it happen,” said Johnnie. “They treat everyone like family.”

“We practically live together, laugh and cry with each other,” Becky says. “The hard part is yet to come. Leaving, leaving them.”

“We know the volunteers have to go back to their families, but we’re all gonna cry,” says Johnnie, or “Mama J” as Becky calls her. “You’ve got to look out for each other in times like this. They treat us awesome.”

Photo caption: North Park Recreation Center shelter manager Becky Bowie (L) calls resident Johnnie B. Walker “Mama J”. The two have been together since massive flooding ravaged much of Louisiana nearly two weeks ago. “Something good’s got to come out of this,” Walker says. “They treat us like family. When they leave, we’re going to cry.”

Sully Film Features Red Cross Volunteers

Who remembers the plane that had an emergency landing on the Hudson River in 2009? Now, do you happen to remember what most of the survivors and crew were wrapped in after they safely exited the plane and got on dry land? Red Cross blankets, of course!

A film directed by Clint Eastwood revisiting “the miracle on the Hudson” is set to release on September 9. It focuses on the flight’s pilot, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, played by Tom Hanks.

We are honored to be included in the film, helping to reconstruct the aftermath of the water landing. Hear from a handful of Red Cross volunteers who were on the scene in New York in 2009, and had the privilege of recreating their role for the movie.

We are eagerly awaiting the movie’s release and will be cheering on our Red Cross volunteers! Find out more on redcross.org and the official Sully website.

Red Cross Offers Disaster Spiritual Care to Flood Survivors in Louisiana

For the past 17 years, Tim Serban has served as a volunteer with the American Red Cross. Yet, he doesn’t deliver food, water nor even relief supplies like thousands of his volunteer counterparts across the country who drop everything in times of crisis to help those in need. Instead, he provides help through spiritual care.

“We ensure the whole person is supported,” said Serban. “We walk alongside both those who are impacted as well as our volunteers who are spending weeks on end supporting those in need,” said Serban.

Today, nearly two weeks following devastating floods in Louisiana, more than 2,400 people continue seeking shelter in Louisiana through the Red Cross. Tim is working tirelessly to help coordinate spiritual care teams on the ground where rain flooded much of the state with more than 6.9 trillion gallons of water.

“This is a big, big disaster,” said Serban. “This is one that I think rivals Sandy and that is one of the largest disasters we have experienced.”

It’s a little known fact that the Red Cross even deploys Spiritual Care teams during times of disaster – but Tim says it’s a critical part of the response and recovery process and offers tremendous support for those suffering.

During times of crisis, disaster spiritual care volunteers often find that people need more than food, water and shelter. These are often the worst days of their lives, and volunteers find that those who have lost so much typically seek spiritual meaning and comfort.

“We help to orient them in disaster shelters,” said Serban. “We provide support that is appropriate for each person as they request it and work to meet the short-term spiritual needs of those directly impacted by disaster.”

“Often, people in shelters will be reaching out trying to find a way to connect to their faith community,” said Serban.  “They may be displaced altogether from their geographic community, and they may have a need to have support. So if they have a particular faith tradition, then we do all we can to help connect them to their ministers and their pastors.”

Sometimes a volunteer will offer to pray with those suffering, whether individually or communally, and sometimes it’s enough to simply provide a listening ear and compassion.

“There is the Christian tradition, there are those who are Buddhist, those who are Muslim, those who are Jewish,” said Serban. “Each tradition has their respected rituals and processes.”

Tim says they also work with community faith-based leaders who want to offer support, however he says it is important for anyone entering shelters to be respectful and appropriate.

“When we are in those shelters, it is as if we are walking into their rooms in their homes,” said Serban. “We have very specific areas that we really want to make sure continue to be respected as their sleep area.”

Spiritual care volunteers respect the Fundamental Principles of the global Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The principles ensure that services are provided with neutrality and impartiality in a way that supports the Red Cross mission to alleviate human suffering.

“We ensure that we are supportive of the whole person, body, mind and spirit,” said Serban.

Residents of a Red Cross shelter praying on Aug. 13 at a shelter established for those affected by flooding in Louisiana.

Top Questions About Louisiana Flood Relief

Last updated August 31, 2016.

So many of us have been touched by the recent floods that have devastated Louisiana—whether directly as residents or indirectly as concerned citizens with big hearts. At this crucial hour, timely and accurate information is critical. Here are the top questions we’ve gathered from social media, as well as answers that we hope will be helpful.

Please note this post will be modified as new information comes in.

1. I need to stay in a shelter. What about my pet(s)?

We love our pets – they are members of our families. Keeping pets in shelters can sometimes pose health and safety issues, though, since we can’t always guarantee that our companion animals will get along or that fellow residents won’t have serious allergies. So the Red Cross, a proud member of the National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition (NARSC), works with animal rescue groups to ensure that shelter residents have a place to house their pets.

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) relocated pets housed in a mobile pet shelter located at the Baton Rouge River Center to the Dixon Correctional Institute (DCI) in Jackson, Louisiana. This was an effort toward better long term recovery and for the health of the pets as officials work toward housing solutions for those in the shelter. The Red Cross is working closely with LDAF to support shelter residents during this stressful time when they are away from their animals. The LDAF is helping to coordinate daily visits until families can be reunited full-time with their pets. It’s important to note that LDAF is responsible for the transport and sheltering of pets in disasters. Learn more on their website.

2. My home has been destroyed by floods. What should I do first?

We’re so sorry to hear this. Please register as soon as possible for federal disaster assistance with FEMA. You can apply for aid at disasterassistance.gov, call 1-800-621-3362 or visit a Disaster Recovery Center.

3. I am in need of supplies – from cleanup kits to diapers.

Please give the American Red Cross Disaster Hotline a call at 855-224-2490. They can help direct you to where supplies are available in your area. Take care and please hang in there!

4. I want to volunteer to help Louisiana.

You are awesome! You can learn all about joining our volunteer team at www.redcross.org/louisiana.

5. I would like to donate clothing/supplies/food.

Thank you so much for your generosity. Here’s a great list of options if you’d like to help Louisiana flood victims.

6. Is it true that the Red Cross doesn’t allow people to pray in shelters?

We sincerely apologize for any confusion around the issue of prayer in Red Cross shelters. Faith is an important part of helping people recover after a disaster, and people in our shelters are always welcome to pray, read their bibles and gather among themselves–we simply ask that they are respectful of others. There are hundreds of people of different values and faiths sharing a large space in our shelters, and we want to respect the privacy of everyone.

If a shelter resident would like to speak with a spiritual advisor, the Red Cross can help to facilitate that connection. When needed, we can also provide private spaces for residents to pray and engage in religious activities with their preferred spiritual advisors.

There are numerous rumors circulating on social media. We can definitively state that none of our Red Cross shelter managers have received reports about such incidents occurring. If anyone staying in a Red Cross shelter is asked not to pray, please notify the shelter manager immediately. We take allegations like this very seriously and will take immediate action.

The Red Cross follows the guidelines set forth by the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster to provide appropriate and respectful disaster spiritual care. Through our Disaster Spiritual Care program, trained Red Cross workers bolster hope and resilience for the survivors and their families by helping people draw upon their own spiritual resources – values and faith – in the midst of their pain, regardless of their faith tradition.

You can also read an article on Snopes.com, addressing this question.

7. I’ve heard rumors about food distribution from the Red Cross.

Please know we are taking any reports of insufficient food distribution occurrences very seriously. It’s our practice to put our shelter residents first, and we apologize for situation where this may not have been the case.

The Red Cross strives to provide nutritious, well-balanced meals both emergency shelters and through our response vehicles which are fanning out through affected neighborhoods to serve people cleaning up their homes.

 

We appreciate that this is a challenging and difficult time for the residents of Louisiana, and the American Red Cross is committed to do all that it can to support those affected.

 

7 Heartwarming Photos of Humans Being Awesome

August 19 is World Humanitarian Day — a time to honor those who alleviate suffering and a call to action.

No matter how much time I spend in disaster zones around the world, there’s no getting used to the suffering. Every home lost, every school crumbled…let’s just say, I’ve yet to go on a trip where I don’t shed a tear.

And while I’ve met a lot of humanitarians who are much tougher than I, they’re still only human. Are they sweating in those protective Ebola suits in West Africa? Yes. Are they exhausted after delivering aid packages 30 days in a row? Yes. Are some of them scared in conflict zones? You bet.

But they do it. Humanitarians make a conscious decision every single day to get up, tough it out, and make their neighborhoods and this earth a better place. In honor of World Humanitarian Day, here are seven photos that celebrate the people behind the word. Humans, one and all.

 

Delivery of food for children in the Eastern part of Aleppo
 Red Crescent volunteers deliver food for children in the eastern part of Aleppo, Syria in 2015. Humanitarians risk their lives to deliver aid in besieged areas. The global Red Cross Red Crescent network is now reaching around 4.5 million people in Syria every month. Abdul Kader Fayad/Syrian Arab Red Crescent

 

Indian Ocean Tsunami 10 Years Later 
Ten years after a massive tsunami struck, Zatin Abdullah plants mangrove saplings in Aceh Jaya, Indonesia. Mangroves not only slow storm surges and erosion, but they also absorb three times as much carbon dioxide as other trees, dissolve heavy metals like mercury from the soil and water, and provide a habitat for shrimp and oysters. Jenelle Eli/American Red Cross 

 

Bicycle 
Anton Chilufya is a volunteer from the Zambia Red Cross. In 2003, he was among the first in his country to involve himself in the fight for the elimination of measles at the community level. His work involved visiting families in his neighborhood on a monthly basis, checking that everyone was healthy, especially young children. One of his objectives was to persuade parents to have their sons and daughters immunized against measles. Then he would take the children on his bicycle to the closest vaccination center, which can be some distance away. Help was crucial for parents as most of them needed to look after their land and their other children so they could not afford to leave home for any length of time. Marko Kokic/IFRC

 

20160421_Tanzania_Nurse_Main3 2 
Children make up a good portion of the refugees who have fled electoral violence in Burundi. They live in camps in Tanzania where 60 percent of the population suffers from malaria. Dorothy Muchaki, a nurse in the refugee camp is there for them. “For me, humanitarian work is a calling. It’s a passion. Nobody wants to go out and do these things. But I can do it. There are people who are suffering and I want to alleviate their suffering, even it is something small,” she says. Niki Clark/American Red Cross

 

p-GRC0817
On the shores of Lesvos, Greece, a Red Cross rescue team helps migrants out of their lifeboat in 2015. All over the world, Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers are delivering shelter, food, medical care, and other vital support to people displaced from their homes. Charlotte Hyest/Belgian Red Cross
Louisiana Floods 2016 
Sharon Butler-Walker is a new American Red Cross volunteer, who is inspired to help others because “she loves helping” and she says there’s a great need for volunteers. She brought Glenda Hill to her temporary lodging at the Red Cross shelter in Gonzales, Louisiana after devastating floods left thousands of people displaced. Marko Kokic/American Red Cross

 

Liberia, Monrovia, 2014 
Two members of the Liberian Red Cross hold hands in Monrovia, March 2014. “I captured this photo of two burial team members as they walked to pray for someone who had died during the Ebola outbreak,” says photographer Victor Lacken. “At a time when people were not allowed to touch, this was the safest way to do so.” Victor Lacken/IFRC 

 

So here’s to celebrating some beautiful humans who make our world a better place. They walk four hours to deliver meals; enter conflict zones to provide medicine; wade into the ocean to help the displaced; and bring hope to people who are often experiencing the worst day of their lives.

These photos not only bring a quick smile to my face, but also remind me that as long as humanitarians are around—and as long as they continue to help people regardless of race, religion, gender, and political affiliation?—?the world is going to be okay.

Read more about how the Red Cross helps communities around the world.