Earlier this month, Canadian Red Cross Vice President of International Operations, Hossam Elsharkawi travelled to Cuba after Hurricane Irma ravaged the country. Here he shares some of the experiences he had alongside his colleagues, Lai-Ling lee, Head of Americas Region and David Campfens, Regional Representative for the Americas.
 
“While we were in Cuba we met local leadership, staff and volunteers - what a truly amazing team of Cuban Red Cross staff and volunteers. They live and demonstrate the great work and commitment to what it means to be a Red Crosser."

While we were in Cuba we met local leadership, staff and volunteers - what a truly amazing team of Cuban Red Cross staff and volunteers. They live and demonstrate the great work and commitment to what it means to be a Red Crosser.
 
Elizabeth, a volunteer rescue team leader and biochemistry student, shared: “We care and help everyone. This is why I am in the Red Cross”.  I see so much dedication and drive, despite all adversity.
 
Our Canadian Red Cross team was received at the Havana Cuban Red Cross branch by children singing the Red Cross humanitarian principles: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, unity, voluntary service and universality.  

Our Canadian Red Cross team was received at the Havana Cuban Red Cross branch by children singing the Red Cross humanitarian principles: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, unity, voluntary service and universality
 
After that we watched a first aid simulation. It must be the youngest group of First Aid volunteers I have ever seen. It put a huge smile on my face. We also were able to see first-hand a drill for rescuing people from collapsed buildings. 

After that we watched a first aid simulation. It must be the youngest group of First Aid volunteers I have ever seen.
 
The Canadian Red Cross team for the America’s Region will continue to support the Cuban Red Cross over the coming months as they begin to rebuild after this disaster.
 
Hurricane Irma left behind mass destruction in Cuba. Severe damage was caused to people’s livelihoods, basic services and infrastructure in rural and coastal communities in the central and western regions of the country. Of the more than 1.8 million people who were affected in the wake of Hurricane Irma, more than 11,000 continue to receive support with food and other essential items.
The Canadian Red Cross was on the ground across the Caribbean after the hurricane hit and continues to work with the Red Cross Movement to support those impacted by this disaster.

Canadians wishing to support those impacted by Hurricane Irma can make a financial donation online here