Each year, the Greater Cincinnati-Dayton Region of the American Red Cross helps thousands of families who face the tragic loss of their home and belongings to disaster.

Felicia and James Wilson and their five children were one such family who benefitted from Red Cross assistance after losing their home to fire during the fall of last year.

The family escaped the house without injury, but their home was a total loss. In a matter of minutes, they had gone from having all the comforts of home to homeless.

Fortunately, a neighbor knew that the American Red Cross could help and placed a call to the Disaster Response Team. American Red Cross volunteers arrived while firefighters were still battling the fire. They provided the family with clothing, food and housing.

“It was such a tremendous blessing in our time of need. I don’t know what we would have done without the help of the Red Cross,” Felicia Wilson said.

The American Red Cross’ support didn’t end the night of the fire. Over the next few months, their support helped supply the family with clothes, bedding and Christmas gifts. It even helped provide a deposit on a new rental home.

The Wilson family has a new home and renewed hope thanks to the American Red Cross.

“Every time I think about the support we received, it makes me cry. We are all safe and are in a great place thanks to the Red Cross,” Wilson said.




This month’s Global Red Cross update will focus on International Humanitarian Law Action Campaign as we are gearing up for another amazing year of the program.

“Why learn about the law of war?”

“Why regulate war, at all?”

“Why not ‘promoting peace’ instead?”

I heard these questions sometimes when I talked to college students. Humanity has two sides, unfortunately. Although aiming our highest hope for peace is noble, conflicts are inevitable part of humanity. Learning about International Humanitarian Law is not settling with the idea of peace, it is bringing peace to the worst humanity can possibly be.

It is one thing we can be hopeful about our humanity.

Learning about International Humanitarian Law (IHL) is relevant, meaningful and useful for young people in all societies, regardless of the absence of war or conflict and regardless of geographical locations. What happens miles away in Syria affects us here. What happened in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and many other conflict-riden places, affected our lives too. As a global citizen, we have the power to change the outcomes of conflicts that affects our neighbor across the globe, where we are. IHL guides us to make decision to help the vulnerable people affected by war through our voices, our actions to others, our skills, and our resources.  We currently have the highest percentage of younger generation (those born after 1980) that will shape the future; therefore helping them to understand their roles as a global citizen is paramount.

Through the mandate of the Geneva Convention, the Red Cross and Red Crescent global network has a duty to disseminate international humanitarian law in time of peace. The American Red Cross helps the public, especially younger generations, to understand their world through international humanitarian law education, both in and out of classrooms. This year, the Cincinnati Chapter will join nine other chapters nation-wide to implement the IHL Peer Education Program for young people. The program will run from January through April 2013. The participants, Team Members (ages 13-17) and Team Leaders (ages 18-25), will be working to explore the importance of protecting the rights of people affected by war, address an IHL-related issue, and implement an action project on what they learned from the training. Two team leaders and up to six team members will form a team, each team will create an educational project about IHL to be presented to the public. The teams will also compete for an all expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC to attend the National Youth Symposium 2014 on June 5 – 7, 2014.  The participants will also be able to use this experience to fulfill their service learning hours for school. The application deadline for this program is extended to December 13, 2013.

This year, the topics of the projects will be child soldier and international justice. Although the program is based in International Humanitarian Law, the outcome of the programs emphasized heavily on art and creativity while allowing students working together with their peers. The outcomes of the project include flash mobs, theater performances, community and school surveys, media projects, short films and more.


Our humanity calls us to bring peace through our actions; knowledge of IHL gives us tools to make a difference in the world, where we are. Jelaluddin Rumi, a 14th century Sufi poet said, “Be a lamp, a lifeboat, or a ladder.” The decision is yours.


Dyah Miller serves as International Services Coordinator at the American Red Cross Greater Cincinnati – Dayton Region. Originally from Indonesia, she spent two years as a Rotary World Peace Fellow 2008-10 at the Duke-UNC Rotary Peace Center.  For more information and application of the program, please follow this link:



Global Red Cross Update November 2013

This month’s Global Red Cross Update will cover International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Action Campaign Program, upcoming courses and events locally, relevant International Humanitarian Law current events, and information about inquires accepted by International Family Linking and International Disaster Inquiries.

IHL Action Campaign Program
Last year, the Cincinnati Chapter was one of the eight chapters nationwide to implement the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Action Campaign Pilot Program. This year, we will be implementing the program again in January – April 2014. We have started the recruitment process for Team Leaders (18-25 years old) and Team Members (13-17 years old); deadline for the application will be on December 10, 2013.

Find out more about 2014 IHL Action Campaign Program, for interested applicants, both members (13-17 years old) and team leaders (18-25 years old) and potential teachers/schools partners.
Click here to learn more about the program and to apply (application deadline: December 10, 2013)

Information sessions will be held on:
1. November 11, 2013 at 3:30pm at MacMillan Hall on Spring St, Room #112, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio
2. November 13, 2013 at 6pm at ARC Cincinnati Chapter, 2111 Dana Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45207
3. December 4th, 2013 at ARC Cincinnati Chapter, 2111 Dana Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45207

Cincinnati Events:
International Humanitarian Law Courses (Free for the Public, CEUs for OHIO Social Workers offered)
December 11, 2013 at 8:30am – 12:30pm, International Humanitarian Law
December 12, 2013 at 8:30am – 5:00pm, International Humanitarian Law and Restoring Family Links

International Services Overview
Through Volunteer Connections, the International Services Department has received referrals of volunteers interested to learn more about our programs. With our limited staff and resources, we will be holding monthly presentations or overview to give volunteers opportunities to learn more about International Services and to serve within the department. Our International Services overview will be held every third Wednesday of the month at 6pm at the Cincinnati Chapter Headquarters. If interested to attend these presentations, please rsvp to Our next overview will be held on December 18, 2013.

International Humanitarian Law Current Events Update (Source: American Red Cross National Headquarters IHL Team, Legal Department)

1. Four of seven kidnapped aid workers freed in Syria. AFP, Jonathan Fowler, October 14, 2013. Link:
According to IHL, It is important that the remaining 3 ICRC workers be freed immediately. Additional Protocol II provides for humanitarian and impartial relief actions for the civilian population during non-international armed conflicts like the Syrian civil war. ICRC workers and members of National Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies like the Syrian Arab Red Crescent work to protect vulnerable civilians during armed conflict. Attacks against personnel and objects displaying the distinctive emblems are prohibited by IHL in both international and non-international armed conflicts. In performing their important humanitarian work, the emblems of the Red Cross, Red Crescent and Red Crystal are displayed both to show affiliation with this with the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and provide protection from attack.

2. Drone strikes by US may violate international law, says UN. The Guardian, Owen Bowcott, October 21, 2013

In the IHL, while unmanned aerial vehicles, popularly referred to as “drones,” are not in and of themselves prohibited by IHL as a weapons platform, it is unclear based on publicly available information whether the current US targeted killing policy is in compliance with IHL. Even attacks using permissible weapons must be in compliance with the principles of distinction and proportionality. This is currently unclear because so much of the information about targeted killings remains classified.

3. Liberian Charles Taylor moved to British prison to serve war crimes conviction. The Telegraph, October 15, 2013

IHL implication: Former Liberian President Charles Taylor was convicted by the Special Court of Sierra Leone of 11 counts of aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity. These crimes included terroizing the civilian population, collective punishment, unlawful killings, sexual violence and the use of child soldiers, among others committed during the conflict in Sierra Leone. Under the Geneva Conventions, States have a duty not only to respect IHL themselves, but also to ensure respect for IHL by others and prosecute war crimes and other IHL violations committed by individuals. One way to do this is through the international criminal justice system.

4. Mali’s rescued manuscripts must go back to Timbuktu, say custodians
The Guardian, Mark Tran, October 1, 2013

IHL implications: Cultural objects and places of worship are protected by IHL as part of the “cultural heritage of mankind,” and attacks against them are prohibited. The UNESCO World Heritage Emblem is one of the symbols which can be used to identify important cultural artifacts, another is the symbol created by the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

5. Civilians vs. Chemicals: Protecting the Right Norm in Syria
Council on Foreign Relations, Betcy Jose, September 26, 2013

IHL implications: The use of chemical weapons is prohibited both due to the indiscriminate nature of these weapons and because of international treaties that ban chemical weapons specifically. It is also important to remember that the prohibition on attacks targeting civilians forms the very foundation of IHL, and that all operations must be directed against a legitimate miltiary target.

6. Bangladesh MP sentenced to death for 1971 war crimes (video)
BBC News, Muhfuz Sadique, October 1, 2013

IHL implications: States have a duty to address IHL violations, and war crimes are the most serious violations of IHL. States also have a duty to pass domestic legislation criminalizing serious violations of the Geneva Conventions.

International Family Linking
- The American Red Cross is accepting tracing inquiries for missing loved ones in relation to the recent attacks at the Westgate Shopping Center in Nairobi, Kenya

- Iraqi Certificates of Detention. Clients may request documentation of their time as Prisoners of War in Saudi Arabia during the First Gulf War, so that they may be able to obtain reparations from the government of Iraq.

International Disaster Inquiries:
The American Red Cross is accepting tracing inquiries for missing loved ones in relation to:
- Typhoon Usagi (local name Odette) that hit the Philippines on September 21, 2013
- Tropical Storm Manuel and Hurricane Ingrid (Southern Mexico)
- Tropical Storm Manuel and Hurricane Ingrid. At this time Restoring Family Links inquiries can be accepted for the disaster affected areas of Southern Mexico

Inquiries will be accepted that meet the following criteria:
• Sought persons living in the affected area who were in regular contact with their relatives in the United States before the event occurred.
• For family members who are not U.S. citizens.

Inquiries concerning U.S. citizens should be referred to the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, at 1-888-407-4747. Please remember that this phone number is frequently busy during the first days of a large disaster.

Local volunteer lends a hand with Colorado flood

Written by Vince Costello; vince3vince1International Services Director (Ret); American Red Cross Volunteer

I am deployed in Colorado for the response to the Colorado Flood. I arrived Wednesday,Sept 18 and for the first week and traveled throughout the entire affected area with another Mental Health Worker. We were charged with identifying possible locations throughout the affected area for Emergency Aid Stations, (EAS).

Following that, Sept 23rd I was assigned to the Northern District based in Ft. Collins, CO. After arriving in Ft Collins I was assigned to Estes Park Colorado to serve as the Disaster Mental Health Lead. The normal travel time from Ft. Collins to Estes Park was about 1 hour. Now though because of the flooding the 2 main routes US Rt. 34 and 36 are closed with as many as 12 sections of the roads are “gone”. This resulted in having to drive via Bolder CO, up into the Rockies on a paved road which quickly turned into a gravel road (Sunshine Canyon) which was a 2 lane “road” traversing portions of the Rocky Mountains sometimes with only one lane usable. The total time took 4 hours getting to Estes Park.

Much of the area surrounding Estes Park is still not accessible by car and only accessible to resident by hiking into their homes if their homes still exist. We have already had Snow here which is obviously going to impact the repair of roads. One of the 2 roads from Estes Park into the valley they hope will not be passible until December 1 at the earliest.

Signs of the Season



Ah fall, crisp breezes with falling colored leaves, High School football games under beautiful starry skies, sure signs of changing season, but there is another sign….wait for it……wait for it……Fire Prevention Month!!!  Yes, we at the Red Cross are reminding you that while sipping apple cider, toasting marshmallows and enjoying the last days before winter, don’t forget to talk to your family about fire prevention.  Literally, the biggest disaster threat to families across our nation every day isn’t a flood or hurricane; it’s fire. Yes, simple to start, sometimes preventable, the common house fire. Last year the American Red Cross responded to numerous fires, caused by a variety of reasons. All across the country, local Red Cross volunteers respond to family fires in their communities, providing shelter, food, clothing and much more to start the families on their road to recovery

That’s why the American Red Cross is encouraging people to take steps to minimize the risk of home fires by remembering two key fire safety steps:

  • install smoke alarms and
  • develop a fire escape plan

It is recommended that people check each smoke alarm in their home by pushing the test button at least once a month and replace batteries every year, or as needed. Fire escape plans should include at least two escape routes from every room in the home and a convenient meeting place at a safe distance from the home. Practice your escape plan at least twice a year and revise as necessary. Families are encouraged to pay particular attention to developing and regularly practicing escape plans for children and older adults.

It might not be your favorite fall activities, but I promise you, if your home ever catches on fire, it will be the best fall activity your family ever did.

Time to Check that Kit!

PHSS stock photography - PreparednessSo I’ve been a Red “Crosser” for years, have the whole Make a Plan, Get a Kit thing down;  I’ve even downloaded the Tornado and First Aid app to my phone, so I’m thinking I’ve done my checklist for Preparedness Month, time to relax and wait for the new fall shows.  Then I come across this happy little youtube clip  and I think, hmmm, when or how update our emergency kit last?  I’m pretty sure it’s my husband and now I’m panicked, so off to the garage I fly, pull down my kit and find, well, exactly what you think I would find…..

  • Two flashlights with no batteries, I knew buying flashlights that use the same batteries as the television remote would be a problem.
  • Container of peanut butter, obviously opened, with green something growing in it.
  • My personal favorite, the empty water jugs, with dirty hand prints remarkably that look just like the nine-year olds.

Well, you get the picture, although not quite as bad as the video, my emergency kit was a disaster and no way was it going to be a help when we lose power during a storm or snowed in sometime this winter.  So, I make my list of what I need, pilfer what I can from my pantry, even stealing back a few batteries from the remotes and take note of what I need to buy over the next few weeks to complete the kit.  Lesson learned, even an old Red Cross dog can learn new tricks, up next work on my family plan!  Stay tuned.

Zombie Sharknado Snowstorm

Celebrating its tenth year, National Preparedness Month, sponsored by FEMA, is a nationwide effort that encourages individuals, families, businesses and communities to work together and take action to prepare for emergencies.

 During National Preparedness Month, us “Red Crossers” gather around our laptops and smartphones, huddle together with other disaster and preparedness peeps and plan how to get others to prepare for emergencies.  I’ve never seen a more intense group of people than these peers as we try to get others to prepare!  I’ve witnessed Flash Mobs for earthquake preparedness, door to door volunteer projects and even observed tips for the Zombie Apocalypses, now that’s some kind of preparedness. 

Marketing guru’s tell us it takes seven times to get the message across, and the more varied the ways the better, so we hand out pamphlets, put on demonstrations, create apps, do phone-a-thons, you name it, we get a little preparedness passionate.  So, help us preparedness geeks out and before we start singing door-to-door about what to do during a zombie sharknado snowstorm, check out and see what you can do to help your family prepare for an emergency or disaster. 


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,943 other followers

%d bloggers like this: