Written by Catherine Ntabadde
Tuesday, 10 May 2011 09:35
By Jacqueline Zawedde
The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent set aside this year to celebrate the achievements, accomplishments and relentless hard work that is demonstrated by the Volunteers attached to the movement world wide. In this respect, the Uganda Red Cross Society celebrated the International Red Cross and Red Crescent week under the theme, “Promoting Volunteerism for Sustainable Development”.
On 8th May, all roads led to Mbarara District’s Independence Park, where the main celebrations took place. Clad in branded T-shirts and caps and waving flags that bore the URCS and ICRC logos, the staff, volunteers, Central Governing Board, partners painted Mbarara Town White as they marched in a procession led by the Mbarara Youth Band. The procession which triggered off the day’s celebrations put all work at standstill as revealers either joined or watched the great crowd march away.
Back at the main celebration grounds it was pomp and splendor as exhibitors from URCS’ different departments as well as partners showcased their services and activities. URCS Youth and Volunteer department used this opportunity to recruit over 50 youth members. In addition, the society undertook Blood donation and recruitment mobilization as well as first aid services. The function was crowned off by a football gala between URCS and Makerere University.
Hon. James Kakooza, the State Minister for Primary Health Care, who represented President Yoweri Museveni as the Chief Guest, appreciated the work the URCS was doing in its humanitarian and relief efforts. He recognized the volunteers who were spear heading this venture. “The great work I saw the Red Cross do during the Walk to Work riots in Kasangati prompted me to join the Red Cross as a life time member and I am very confident that I will not regret this decision”, said Kakooza. He specially appreciated the work that was being done in donating blood to the most vulnerable and in need of it; and it was from this point of view that he promised to indulge Parliament into looking into increasing the annual budget for Blood Donation from 500Million to 1Billion.
The Chairman Central Governing Board, Hon. Robert Ssebunya saluted all the Volunteers of URCS in their capacities and praised the heroic work they do in improving lives of the most vulnerable in the country. Ssebunya said, “Volunteerism remains at the heart of the survival and success of URCS and I do encourage more people to join Red Cross to continue sustaining this spirit that was pioneered by Henry Dunant, the Founder of the IFRC.
The Secretary General, Michael Nataka, thanked all participants and most especially the partners who had graced the occasion in big numbers. In his remarks, he called upon the public to donate as much blood as possible because it is needed during times of emergencies. He however restrained politicians from using blood donation as a medium of organizing people since it contradicts the principles of the Red Cross. “One of our principles is Neutrality therefore we do not want the Red Cross to be depicted taking up sides especially in political gatherings,” he said.
Youth groups from Mbarara Region, who well represented, entertained the guests with skits and songs which praised the work of the URCS. A football match and fun filled social evening crowned off the celebrations.