By Ademola Alao in Abuja
“I am so proud of you all, of all our volunteers and staff, who defied grave risks during the recent crisis to assist the vulnerable population. In all my years I have never seen such courage as you have displayed in the last few months.
“I am proud of you for bringing out the volunteer in you during this critical period of our national history.” These were the words of Madam Monique Coulibaly, the President of the Red Cross of Côte d’Ivoire during its commemoration of the World Red Cross Red Crescent Day, on 8 May 2011, in Abidjan.
Reflecting on the actions of the Ivorian society whilst post-election conflict ravaged the country, Madam Coulibaly related stories of courage and sacrifice, and of the upholding of the movement’s Fundamental Principles.
Although themselves affected by the conflict, and stranded in a downtown office in Abidjan for days, Red Cross volunteers braved the dangerous streets to find and help people in need. They gave first aid and evacuated some of the injured to available health facilities. Priority attention was given to the elderly, pregnant and breastfeeding women as well as to children.
“Between the last week of March and end of April 2011, the Red Cross of Côte d’Ivoire, through the selfless service of its volunteers, assisted 97 women who were in labour, evacuated more than 500 injured and sick to health facilities and gave first aid to 580 people,” added Dr. Léonard Nouillé, the Secretary General of the Red Cross of Côte d’Ivoire.
During the crisis period, the Red Cross volunteers were also mobilized to provide other assistance to the affected population. Over 5,000 litres of potable water were distributed to households whilst wells were chlorinated in Jacqueville in the outskirt of the capital. The volunteers also carried out sensitization activities on good hygiene practices as part of the Red Cross contribution to curtailing the spread of epidemics such as cholera.