The world’s largest humanitarian network has reported that hundreds of thousands of new volunteers have volunteered to work for free this year during the pandemic.
Today is International volunteer day– first celebrated by the United Nations 35 years ago, so it is fitting that the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), formed in 1919, is culminating a century of service by giving the welcome many new kind-hearted volunteers around the world.
Some of the highest volunteer numbers come from the American Red Cross with 78,000 new registrations. The Italian Red Cross welcomed almost 60,000 new registrations as part of its ‘Good Times’ initiative. The Netherlands registered 48,000 new volunteers recruited through its Ready2Help citizen support network, and Kenya is training 35,000 new people.
Significant increases were also reported in Argentina, Kyrgyzstan and even Tuvalu, an island country in the western-central Pacific with no recorded cases of COVID-19 that welcomed more than 130 new volunteers.
Together, they have reached tens of millions of people in almost every country in the world, while responding to hundreds of other disasters.
New and veteran volunteers have dedicated their time to a wide range of COVID-19 response activities, including:
- delivery of food and essential medical items;
- transportation of patients to health facilities;
- support with testing and contact tracing;
- provide psychosocial support to vulnerable and quarantined people;
- distribute personal protective equipment (PPE);
- and provide reliable and accurate health information to their communities.
“This year, in response to an unprecedented humanitarian need, the International Federation has witnessed equally unprecedented humanity and goodness, with hundreds of thousands of people joining the Red Cross and Red Crescent family. for the first time, as they battled the dire impacts of COVID. 19 in their own lives, ”said Francesco Rocca, president of the International Federation.
“Although the future may seem bleak and the world divided due to this virus, every individual action of solidarity, peace, lending a hand and supporting their community is important,” he added.
In the first 6 months of the global response to COVID-19, the International Federation allocated more than 120 million Swiss francs to support compassionate responses in 153 countries.
New volunteers came from all ages and backgrounds: teachers, parents, nurses, students, bankers, artists, now potentially unemployed or licensed, young and old, and motivated by a common desire to serve their communities.
Tracy Kyomuhendo, a student from Kampala, joined the Uganda Red Cross in March when COVID-19 hit and a national lockdown halted her studies.
“I joined because I wanted to sensitize my community about the virus and help protect them; some people here didn’t even think that the coronavirus was real. Volunteering has helped me develop my skills as a person and also achieve my dream of serving humanity. Now it’s part of me! I feel more connected to my community than ever. “
All the millions of volunteers are a true light in uncertain and troubled times. Learn how you can become a volunteer on the International Federation website.
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