This month marks the first International Services Update in the CincyDayton Red Cross blog. This month, the International Services is hosting Naturalization Ceremony in our headquarters on 2111 Dana Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio at 2:00pm (you are invited)! Our International Services Committee Chairperson and the Coordinator for the Naturalization Ceremonies volunteer, Suzanne Samarghandi, has written a welcome message for this first International Services update edition.
“Welcome Message, International Services Update, August 2013
Fifteen years ago I volunteered to attend new citizen naturalizations on behalf of the International Services Department of the Cincinnati Chapter of the American Red Cross. While at the ceremony, I would pass out literature listing all the services the Red Cross could provide to our newest citizens. I had no way of knowing then that my life would intertwine with this organization and that it would provide me with such a sense of service to the greater Cincinnati community.
I would attend each naturalization ceremony and marvel that so many people from so many countries wanted to become Americans. You could see the pride and happiness both in them and their families and friends, who would be there to offer support. At times you could see them wipe tears from their eyes and I have to admit that never, do I say the Pledge of Allegiance in quite the same way as I do during those ceremonies.
At some point I started coordinating other volunteers who served the Red Cross and who wanted to attend the naturalization events. I met many wonderful people both volunteers and staff members at the Cincinnati Chapter.
In the week or so following the tragedy of 9/11/2001, needing to do something but feeling as helpless as most of us felt, I was asked to come to the Red Cross in order to help process the thousands of donation checks that were pouring in. It meant so much to me that I could perform some small service to help.
A couple of years ago I was asked to serve on the International Services Committee. This committee consists of a wonderfully diverse group of individuals. We have active and retired CEO’s and business people, we have representatives from major universities in our area, and we have employees from several of the Tri-State’s largest social service agencies and employers, in addition to the wonderful staff members from the Cincinnati Chapter. There are also representatives from some of the largest immigrant populations in the region. It has been a wonderful experience to work with such a dedicated group, all committed to bettering both our local community and the world beyond.
Last year I was asked to serve as the Chairman of the International Services Committee. What a privilege and honor it has been for me in the short time I have chaired.
A few of the activities of the international Services Committee include:
- Responding to Disasters (both overseas and here at home)
- Measles and Rubella Initiative
- Disaster Preparedness
- International Human Rights Education (Classes Offered)
- Welcoming New American Citizens at the Naturalization Ceremonies
It is my hope that we can interest many more people from every part of our greater Cincinnati community to participate and volunteer to serve as part of the International Services Committee or indeed for any other area of the Cincinnati Chapter. Based on my experience, it will only enhance your life!
Chairperson of the International Services Committee
Cincinnati/Dayton Chapter of the American Red Cross”
Other updates include: the anniversary of the Geneva Convention (1), International Disaster and Conflict news from Pakistan (2) monsoon flood, Gambia (3) Red Cross Society to fight hunger through community gardening, news from Syria (4) and Guantanamo Bay (5), and our upcoming International Services Courses on September 18 and 19 (6) (free to the public and offering CEUs for Ohio Social Workers).
1) Anniversary of the Geneva Convention
August 12, 2013 is the anniversary of the Geneva Convention. The Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols are international treaties that contain the most important rules limiting the barbarity of war. They protect people who do not take part in the fighting (civilians, medics, aid workers) and those who can no longer fight (wounded, sick and shipwrecked troops, prisoners of war). The Geneva Conventions is a big part of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and as part of the Red Cross Red Crescent global network, our duties is to disseminate IHL; we do this through three programs: (1) IHL Courses for the public, offered every quarter, the upcoming class will be on September 18; (2) Exploring Humanitarian Law, a free module for secondary educators to use in the classroom; (3) IHL Action Campaign Program, a creative peer-to-peer education program for youth outside of the classroom (deadline for application is December 10, 2013, the program runs from January – April 2014). For more information about these programs, please contact International Services Department.
2) Pakistan Monsoon Flood
The Pakistan Red Crescent Society has assisted over 1,060 families affected by monsoon floods which began in early August 2013 that have caused 84 deaths and 44 injuries. Over 81,600 people have been affected across various parts of the country, and over 4,3000 houses damaged, with the Provinces of Punjab and Sindh have been most affected.
3) Gambia Hunger Crisis
For the first time in 15 years, communities in Gambia found themselves without food and income following poor rainfall during the 2011–2012 harvest season. Families were forced to sell their assets and livestock, or survive on charity and foraging.
The Gambia Red Cross Society – with assistance from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Canadian government – aimed to provide immediate and long-term assistance to vulnerable communities in the North Bank Division and Lower River Region.
Using a two-pronged approach, the Red Cross provided emergency life-saving interventions whilst also focusing on longer-term community resilience. Distributions of food, quality rice seeds and fertilizer addressed the immediate needs, whilst the longer-term resilience activities concentrated on women-run vegetable gardens. The Red Cross provided these gardens with infrastructure support, training, drought-resilient seeds, proper fencing and new concrete-lined hand-driven wells.
The community gardens are not only thriving, they are generating an income as crops and products like jams and juices are sold to nearby communities. This has allowed parents to send their children to school and pay for health care.
4) Conflict in Syria
The ICRC stated that the violence in Syria had been escalated to the level of a non international armed conflict (NIAC) since July 2012. This month, the UNHCHR Navi Pillay called for an investigation unto allegation that rebel groups executed captured government soldiers, in violation of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention. The current estimate of refugee that have fled Syria since 2011 is more than 1.9 million, an average of about 6,000 people per day. Those displaced within Syria due to the armed conflict is estimated to be more than 4.25 million people, roughly half of whom are children. The UN OCHA has estimated that over 100,000 people have been killed.
Source: American Red Cross IHL Dissemination Team, Washington, DC
5) Guantanamo Bay
On July 24, 2013, the first Congressional hearing on Guantanamo since 2009 was held. The White House announced that two detainees would be transferred to Algeria after completion of the “certification” process required by law in order to transfer a detainee from Guantanamo to another country. There are currently 166 detainees held at Guantanamo, 86 of these have been cleared for transfer. According to current reports, about 55 detainees are on hunger strike. Three detainees are currently hospitalized and 39 are being force-fed daily, a practice that the ICRC and other rights groups have opposed. Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention requires that prisoners and detainees be treated humanely and prohibits torture, humiliating and degrading treatment.
Source: American Red Cross IHL Dissemination Team, Washington, DC
6) International Services Courses, You’re Invited!
Classes are Free to the Public / Ohio Social Work CEU Credit available,
International Humanitarian Law (Wednesday, 8:30am – 12:30pm; 3.5 CEUs, meets ETHICS requirements)
This course provides a basic introduction to the structure, history, the basis for International Red Cross and Red Crescent global network and the Geneva Conventions. It explains the legal protections for people, combatants, and civilians, impacted by war and the work of the Red Cross on behalf of those groups of people.
International Relief & Development (Thursday, 8:30am – 12:30pm; 3.5 CEUs)
This course explores the role of the American Red Cross in preparing for and responding to international disasters, as well as how it works with the Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. It also covers a variety of current international relief and development projects worldwide and relief activities that the local chapter is involved in.
Restoring Family Links/Tracing Services (Thursday, 1:30pm – 5:00pm; 3 CEUs)
This course explains the comprehensive global communication network and how the International Red Cross Committee works in conjunction with the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to locate reunite and exchange Red Cross Messages between separated loved ones because of war, international conflict, or disaster. The tracing of Holocaust survivors continues to be a critical part of this program.
NOTE: The international courses as described are educational in nature only and do not qualify participants as International Delegates for the American Red Cross or other Red Cross/Red Crescent International Projects. Contact International Services at 513-579-3023 for additional information.
To register online for the FREE Classes (for the public), click here http://american.redcross.org/site/Calendar?id=103044&view=Detail
To register online for Social Workers requesting CEUs, click here http://american.redcross.org/site/Calendar?id=103043&view=Detail
Ohio Social Work CEUs information:
CEU Approval for Ohio
Social Workers & Counselors
RSX 019203/ RCX-050602
3.5 CEU’s – International Humanitarian Law
3.5 CEU’s – International Relief & Development
3 CEU’s – Restoring Family Links/Tracing Services
Pre-registration required $35 for one course,
$50 for two, and $65 for all three
Payable at time of registration
The American Red Cross Greater Cincinnati Dayton Area is part of the global Red Cross network that work to help communities recover from disasters and conflicts, building safer communities, and educate future humanitarians. Website link: http://www.redcross.org/oh/cincinnati/local-programs/international-services
Contact: International Services Department, 513. 579.3023, firstname.lastname@example.org