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Celebrating World Red Cross Day

Words by Abi Scaife

Today is World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day - an awareness day you may not know existed, but one that is so important!

This important charity, whether it is working as the Red Cross, Red Crescent, or Red Crystal, helps people in crisis. As we celebrate the incredible work of this noble organisation through the most difficult of times, it is important that we spend some time thinking of the joy and the comfort that their work brings. To that end; meet Mary.

Her home village, Agagbe, is nestled in the heart of Benue state in East-Central Nigeria. “I can’t remember how long I’ve been here because of the disasters in this area but I’ve been here a long time,” Mary says.

The disasters Mary speaks of include severe floods and violent conflicts which are still ongoing. However, Mary is luckier than most, in that she has a roof over her head.

Back in 2020 and 2021, Nigeria experienced severe floods across the country – the state of Benue being one of the affected areas.

“I cried when the flood took place because it destroyed a lot of farmlands and it meant a lot of people went hungry,” Mary recalls. Following the floods, the Nigerian Red Cross renovated twelve houses in the local community. Mary’s home was one of them.

“I was able to raise some of the money myself for the renovation, but I was not able to do the floor, so Red Cross came and fixed the floor, windows, and other things. Now my grandchildren can live in the house,” Mary says.

Additionally, the Nigerian Red Cross provided Mary with a thick, petrol-coloured blanket that now means the world to her. The blanket has become a representation of her husband, who sadly passed away, and has become a great comfort to her.

“Whenever I see the Red Cross I see my mother, my father, and my husband because I have lost all three. The Red Cross has become all three of these to me.”

Though life still isn’t easy for Mary, the Red Cross has made an incredible impact - providing her with comfort, and a place to live, and helping to rebuild her community when all felt lost.

Despite the hardship and experiencing a lot of loss in her lifetime, Mary now seeks happiness and hope in the smallest of things. When life gets tough, she gathers with some of her girlfriends in one of their makeshift tents, to reminisce about old times.

They end up in fits of laughter and radiate such joy, enough to dispel their worries about where their next meal will come from. “Back in our tents we sit within our age groups, and we discuss the places we used to come from and the activities we used to do,” Mary says. “We do that because we want to get over our sorrows.”

“If you are isolated you will think a lot of bad thoughts, so we engage, sit together, and tell our stories about how we used to live. It makes us much happier. We do that until we start dozing off, until we feel like sleeping.”

Thank you to the Red Cross for providing Smiley News with access to Mary’s story. Thank you to Nigerian photographer Taiwo Aina, for the images of Mary.

To learn more about The Red Cross and how to support them, visit their website here.

Charity check-in 

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.   

The British Red Cross. This charity helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. They are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts. Support them here.

CARE International UK. CARE is there to help people when they need it most. They are one of the world's leading humanitarian agencies, delivering life-saving assistance when disaster strikes. Find out more here.

Goods for Good. This is an organisation which offers global humanitarian aid by transporting donations such as industry overstock from generous partners to help communities in need. Learn more here.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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