Reginald Winston
Reginald Winston

The demand for the Red Cross Society, its volunteers, and its services grows yearly.

The need for the Red Cross Society is glaringly apparent, from natural disasters to the ravages of war and the severe impact of climate change across the globe.

In this regard, the Dominica Red Cross Society is using the month of May to pay tribute to its volunteers and recognize their invaluable work.

"World Red Cross Day puts special emphasis on the many volunteers who go above and beyond the call of duty and have dedicated their lives to helping others," says President of the Dominica Red Cross Society (DRCS) Reginald Winston.

World Red Cross Day was recognized on 8th May; however, the local Red Cross has a variety of activities throughout the month. One such activity was an open house in LaPlaine on 8th May.

Each year an organization is in existence can be considered a great accomplishment. With that in mind, the local Red Cross Society is celebrating a historic year.

"This year marks the 65th anniversary that the Dominica Red Cross has been providing humanitarian service in Dominica," says Winston, "And this is certainly a milestone achievement for which we want to congratulate our many volunteers and staff who undertake the humanitarian work in the different communities."

The need for volunteers, even in Dominica, has been high on the local branch's agenda. To this end, the society hosted free training sessions on First Aid at the DRCS Headquarters in Goodwill on the 9th and 10th of May.

The theme for this year's World Red Cross Day – Everything we do comes from the heart - focused on the kindness that embodies the work of a Red Cross volunteer and the importance of being kind in action.

"World Red Cross Day is dedicated to human kindness and doing everything from the heart. When we put kindness into the picture, even in small acts of kindness, they can make a big difference," Winston said.

Despite the acts of kindness and humanity, the society faces and continues to face constantly evolving challenges. For example, while volunteers were needed to battle physical threats and tangible aftermath in the past three years, the volunteers battled the invisible enemy.

"In the last few years, COVID and disasters have spared almost no one," Winston said. "Our most vulnerable groups have been hit hard, and many lack the means and resources to adapt."

Winston says the Red Cross has had to change with the times to assist better those affected by the various elements surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Against this backdrop, indifference, misinformation and hate speech are creeping into common consciousness, which is fracturing and polarizing our society and leading to people being rejected and dehumanized," he said.

The DRCS president described carrying 'the flame of humanity' as a fundamental principle of the Red Cross, and "when the flame of humanity flickers, we in the Red Cross must be alarmed and act."

It is of utmost importance that volunteers not only focus on the physical but also play a role in an individual's mental and emotional care.

"They help refocus people's attention on all those in distress in one form or another. They are the basis of our solidarity with the Red Cross and the Red Cross staff worldwide," Winston said.

However, the shortage of volunteers in Dominica continues to be of concern to the DCRS. Hence, DCRS is positioning itself to instruct more people in basic lifesaving skills and first responder training through events planned for the month.

To this end, the Dominica Red Cross Society, in its drive to sensitize the public on its presence and function, has also conducted simulation exercises and visited some schools to build awareness of the Red Cross.

Winston is hopeful that when the cadre of volunteers begins to grow, it will "speak to service from a heart, filled with kindness and love to all humanity."