“Founded by men. Built by women,” stated Ms. Stephanie Lambert, Head of Communications of the local Geneva Red Cross. She was at the American International Women’s Club this past March talking about the Geneva Red Cross’ 150 year history serving Geneva’s citizens and presenting ways that English speakers can get involved with their local activities.
Anyone who has visited the Red Cross Museum (see our blog) knows that Geneva resident Henri Dunant upon going to northern Italy on a business trip came across the aftermath of the battle of Solferino. He was shocked by the 23,000 wounded and dead lying in the fields with little being done to help them so he organized the local population, mostly women and girls, to provide assistance to the injured soldiers. Four years later in 1863, after writing a bestselling book called A Memory of Solferino, he and four others established what is today known as the International Committee of the Red Cross. The organization’s initial goals were to create rules of battle, establish respect for humanity and insure action was taken.
A year later the Geneva Red Cross was formed; the first local Red Cross organization that would go on to change the world by creating local pools of volunteer nurses to help in times of war and crisis; as well as to educate the public about up-to-date family health practices. They introduced home-nursing care and provided the cantonal hospital with its first ambulance.
Interestingly, Ms. Lambert pointed out how pro-active and influential the American Red Cross became: it published and distributed world-wide the Manual for Volunteer Nurse’s Aides, sent volunteer nurses to Europe during and after both World Wars and continues to push for the education of first aid in homes and with young babysitters.
The Geneva Red Cross of 2014 helps the elderly who are home-bound, the young who need guidance, families with urgent baby-sitter needs and migrants wishing to integrate in Swiss society. As with all aid-groups, the Geneva Red Cross must raise money. They have second-hand clothing stores around town called Vet’shop (Vet being short for “vetements,” or clothing), the sale of Mimosas (a tradition since the 1940 as explained in a previous blog) and a grand auction in autumn.
As English speakers, the Geneva Red Cross could use your help in many ways:
- Translating and/or correcting English for their brochures.
- Creating videos.
- Sorting clothes for their stores.
- Packing food and gift items at Christmas for the Paniers de Noël (Christmas Baskets).
- Organizing or helping at fundraisers.
- Donating items to the Autumn Auction.
If you are interested in donating your time or would like more information about the Geneva Red Cross, visit their website at croix-rouge-ge.ch/
We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/