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Red Cross Celebrates

His Excellency the Governor, Mr Stuart Jack, CVO, chats with HIV/AIDS peer educators (from left) Renece Willis, Theresa Cole and Saneata Smith, who all are in sixth form at Cayman Prep and High School.

Supporters, staff and volunteers of Cayman Islands Red Cross recently gathered at Government House to commemorate Red Cross Day, and the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Solferino.

The 1859 battle was the catalyst for the establishment of the international Red Cross and Red Crescent movement.

During the Friday, 8 May ceremony, tents and a mobile trailer showcased the Red Cross' services to residents on all three islands, including disaster management, first aid/ CPR, water rescue, HIV/AIDS education, and the thrift shop.

As patron, His Excellency the Governor, Mr Stuart Jack, CVO, hosted the event. He lauded the organisation's dedicated volunteers and staff for their invaluable service to Cayman, in particular during and after hurricanes. He also hailed the organisation as a major partner in the Islands' national disaster preparedness, and urged the community to continue to support this "very worthwhile cause."

Red Cross Director Jondo Obi explained that worldwide, Red Cross Day is annually observed on 8 May, the birthday of Swiss businessman Jean Henri Dunant (1828-1910). Dunant founded the organisation.

This year, the observance takes on added importance, since it is close to the 150th anniversary of the 24 June 1859 Battle of Solferino. After experiencing the horror of that fight, Dunant and the local women of Solferino were spurred to help those wounded in the battle.

Returning home in Italy, Dunant wrote a book, In Memory of Solferino, in which he put forward two main points. The first idea led to the formation of Red Cross/ Red Crescent societies worldwide. The second idea pressed for establishing and following rules of war. This led to the formation of the Geneva Convention, which today governs how wars are fought anywhere in the world, Ms Obi recounted.

In addition to raising awareness, she noted that Friday's event was intended to encourage corporate sponsorship and partnerships in activities. This includes supporting the various community initiatives. For example, Ms Obi noted that the Brac unit seeks sponsorship and donation of prizes for its fund-raising karaoke event.

On Grand Cayman, the Thrift Shop is always looking for furniture and clothes in good condition, she added.

During the event, Red Cross Chairman Mark Kay highlighted the seven principles that govern the Red Cross movement: humanity, impartiality, independence, neutrality, universality, unity and volunteer service.

For further information contact: Bina Mani