Local humanitarian organisation, the Jamaica Red Cross (JRC) is celebrating 75 years of existence. With a vision of being ‘the most effective humanitarian organisation in Jamaica’, the JRC has an aim to prevent and alleviate suffering, and also to contribute to human dignity.
In what started out as a branch of the British Red Cross, the JRC was established on April 8, 1948 and later recognised as an autonomous entity – a national society, on October 2 in 1964.
Speaking with Our Today, Director General of the Jamaica Red Cross, Yvonne Clarke said that since its establishment, “the organisation has expanded significantly in the field of disaster risk management, and the expansion has shown a shift from focusing primarily on response to a greater emphasis on building resilience through improved preparedness of local communities to better manage impacts and recover faster.”
“The JRC has added cash and voucher assistance along with other livelihood enhancing strategies to its response efforts. Additionally, the areas of climate change adaptation and ecosystem disaster risk reduction, through the increased use of nature-based solutions have also been an increased focus of the JRC. This, in addition to the expansion and training of community disaster response teams for sustainable community resilience,” she shared.
Clarke also said that, “The journey as an organisation has been marked with constant growth and development, moving from a core staff of only five persons to a present compliment of 30 staff members. It has, on occasions, doubled or tripled, depending on the projects being undertaken.”
She pointed out that, over the years, the JRC’s development has included the acquisition of properties, motor vehicles, and other critical resources. Additionally, development has been seen in the mobilisation and training of personnel needed to facilitate the organisation’s efficient and effective operations.
Of worthy note, the Jamaica Red Cross has a first aid and CPR programme, youth development initiatives, as well as a programme focused on restoring family links where the organisation helps to reconnect family members who have lost contact. Through its global network, the JRC helps to locate people, exchange messages, reunite families, and clarify the fate of missing persons during emergencies, conflict, and disasters, which often separate families.
“Developing programmes and strategies are among the major strengths which have evolved over time,” she said, and mentioned the ‘Together We Can’ initiative, an HIV/AIDS peer education programme which was translated into four other languages by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and used and promoted by other Red Cross societies.
Clarke also boasted that the JRC’s Psychosocial Support Programme (PSP) has been recognised and utilised by the Ministry of Health and Wellness as well as the IFRC, “especially in providing training for sister National Societies and the deployment of personnel following large scale regional disasters”.
For its 75th year, the Jamaica Red Cross has planned a number of activities, some of which are among their annual calendar. These include:
- A service of ‘re-dedication and thanksgiving’ at the Kingston Parish Church, today (April 16)
- An islandwide beach cleanup at a date to be determined
- The Renaissance Quartet ‘Beyond Boundaries benefit performance concert on May 4
- Youth Rally at the Noranda Sports Complex in St. Ann on May 5
- Mothers’ Day Brunch at the Girl Guides Association of Jamaica headquarters in St. Andrew on May 14
Guided by the principles of international humanitarian law, the Jamaica Red Cross’s constitution is based on the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their additional protocols of 1977, and 2006, to which the Jamaican government is party.
The organisation is officially recognised by the Government of Jamaica, in the ‘Jamaica Red Cross Society Act of Parliament No. 40 – 1964’, as a voluntary relief society, auxiliary to the public authorities, and in particular to the Medical Services of the Armed Forces in accordance with the 1949 Geneva Conventions, and the only national Red Cross Society which may carry out its activities in Jamaica.
Connect with the Jamaica Red Cross at the website, jamaicaredcross.org or on Instagram @jamaicaredcrossofficial.
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