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Cook Islands Red Cross Society to mark 21st anniversary with ‘open office day’

Tuesday 9 May 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Local, National


Cook Islands Red Cross Society to mark 21st anniversary with ‘open office day’
Cook Islands Red Cross Society staff and board members at a recent meeting. RED CROSS/23050810

Wear “red” on Wednesday and visit the Cook Islands Red Cross Society in Tupapa to mark the organisation’s 21st birthday.

Rose Winters, the first aid coordinator and communications officer, said: “We would like to invite our volunteers, local partners, and the broader community to wear red, and we are having an ‘open office day’, complete with snacks and refreshments.”

The Cook Islands Red Cross Society was established on May 10, 2002 as a branch of the global Red Cross movement to provide support and relief in times of natural disaster and humanitarian crisis. 

“We are active in many forms of community programmes – first aid courses, blood drives, disaster support, youth camps, and International Humanitarian Law, to name a few,” said Winters.

Currently, Cook Islands Red Cross has five full-time staff and six governing board members and over 50 active registered volunteers in Rarotonga with many more in the Pa Enua. 

Winters said the staff and governing board are only a small part of the total Cook Islands Red Cross team adding whenever a crisis arises, and numbers are needed, a lot of support is received from volunteers.

Last Friday, the Society held the Red Cross Charity Ball at the Tamarind House in honour of Red Cross/Red Crescent Day. The Red Cross and Red Crescent Day is celebrated on May 8, on the birthday of its founder, Jean-Henry Dunant.

“The purpose of Red Cross and Red Crescent Day is to appreciate the roots of the Red Cross, how it started from humble beginnings and grew into a worldwide movement, and to recognise the impact Red Cross has had globally and locally,” said Winters. 

In June of 1859,  Dunant as travelling to Italy to meet with the French Emperor Napoleon III, when he witnessed the battle of Solferino. 

Within a single day over 40,000 soldiers were wounded or left to die on the battlefield. Dunant was shocked by the suffering endured by the soldiers, and the lack of medical care and assistance given to the men on both sides of the battle. He abandoned his meeting with Napoleon, and instead devoted all his time and efforts to organising care for the wounded soldiers.

Aid was provided regardless of which side the soldiers were fighting for; the only focus was on their needs as human beings. Four years later in 1863 Dunant founded the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC), and the rest is history.

Today there are approximately 97 million Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers, staff and members worldwide, all working together to uphold the same fundamental principles – “Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Unity and Universality”.

This year’s theme for Red Cross and Red Crescent Day was: “Everything we do comes from the heart”.

Everyone is welcome to pop into the Red Cross premises on Wednesday for a quick chat and/or to find out more about the work of Red Cross. Call their office on 22598 if you have any questions or you would like more information.