Honduras Red Cross volunteer Yahely SerranoYahely Serrano, a Red Cross volunteer in Honduras understands the power of a phone call. She has been a volunteer for over seven years, but most recently has been working in a migrant assistance centre which provides hygiene kits, first aid, and phone calls to the people passing through its doors.

Honduras is a necessary stop on the way for migrants from countries as diverse as Haiti, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Pakistan who are travelling northward.  The free telephone calls are offered through Restoring Family Links, a program offered by the Red Cross worldwide which aims  to prevent separation and disappearance, look for missing persons, restore and maintain contact between family members and clarify the fate of people considered as missing, as consequence of a disaster, conflict or migration.

“A phone call seemed like something so small, until I saw the faces of people who were able to speak to their families for the first time in weeks or months,” Yahely noted. “In one case, a person from Pakistan could not get through on the phone line so he recommended using WhatsApp and was able to connect with his family. Now, we at the Red Cross can offer this service as well when phone calls just won’t work.”

In collaboration with other Red Cross partners, the Canadian Red Cross has supported the development of a new curriculum in Restoring Family Links for National Intervention Teams which was piloted recently in Honduras which included a variety of topics including migration, management of cadavers, disappeared people, vulnerable populations, psychosocial support, and data protection. The Canadian Red Cross contributed to ensure that issues of protection, gender and inclusion were part of the training through discussions on psychosocial support, gender-based violence, and attention to vulnerable populations. Yahely participated in the training and learned new skills which will serve her well in her work at the migrant assistance centre.

 

“Before, we did not have the knowledge or procedures to provide the most effective Restoring Family Links services. Now, we feel more prepared because we know which situations we may encounter, and we have the skills necessary to respond.”


Volunteers are trained for Restoring Family Links programAs a result of this new training, volunteers like Yahely are prepared to assist migrants, but also to help families reconnect following disasters like major earthquakes or hurricanes. The training is the first of its kind in Latin America and the Red Cross hopes to train more volunteers throughout the region. This was a joint effort with the Honduran Costa Rican, Dominican, Salvadora, Canadian, Colombian and American Red Cros Societies, the IFRC through its Reference Centre for Institutional Emergency Preparedness, and the ICRC.

With support from the Government of Canada, the Canadian Red Cross helps strengthen the capacity of partner National Societies in Central America and the Caribbean through the CERA initative.

Find more information on the Canadian Red Cross’ Restoring Family Links services.