With the heavy rains and floodwaters, communities on the East Coast Demerara have found themselves in need of relief and the Guyana Red Cross Society (GRCS) is rendering aid to such communities.
Recently, approximately 425 families of Green Field and Bee Hive benefited from bleach distribution and the provision of education to families as to how the bleach should be administered to drinking water.
Secretary-General, GRCS Dorothy Fraser told Stabroek News, “in any flood-hit location, the first need of the people is to have a supply of potable drinking water and that is the reason we have, above other things, handed out bleach to households.”
She said that by mid January the GRCS expects to be in receipt of a number of hygiene kits from Panama. The kits will also be handed over to families of flood-hit areas.
“The entire idea of rendering aid takes a process,” Fraser said. “It is one that requires assessment, planning and coordination.” She pointed out that the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) is also involved in taking relief to flood-hit communities and as a result emphasised that it is important to plan so as to avoid the duplication of relief efforts.
Fraser told this newspaper in a recent interview that the GRCS has a Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF), which was established to assist these communities with the help of volunteers. Apart from Bee Hive, the DREF programme is expected to provide relief to another 600 families from other flood-hit areas.
To ensure that volunteers can competently provide the services required by the Red Cross, they are trained in various areas including assessing vulnerability and capacity and health education.
When Stabroek News visited the GRCS Headquarters, training sessions were in progress.
To conduct the Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment (VCA), volunteers are sent out into the fields to make observations and conduct needs assessment surveys. Apart from the VCA, Fraser also noted the importance of the volunteers speaking with persons belonging to the various areas as they in some cases are also aware of the needs of their neighbours. According to Fraser, this becomes important as it aids in identifying which families in an area will receive aid as against another.
According to Leslie Edghill, a Red Cross volunteer, he decided to render his assistance because he wanted to make a difference in the lives of people. “I decided that I wanted to do something very constructive with it in terms of making a difference in peoples’ lives and as a result I became a part of the Guyana Red Cross Society.” Edghill also stated that he became a volunteer with the Red Cross because of the variety of programs for which it caters.
According to him “I feel a sense of satisfaction working for an organisation whose mandate is to help people in need.”